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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Reader Comment Question

First of all thanks for reading!  I love questions so please feel free to leave them in the comments or on the Facebook page.

"Why wouldn't you want to go to trial to terminate rights? Why would the goal change be bad before year end?"

Illinois has something called a Directed Consent also known as an identified surrender.  (I believe most states do.) It's paperwork a bio parent can use to place their children for adoption with the adoptive resource (foster parents, family) that allows their parental rights to remain intact until the adoption is finalized. Once the adoption is finalized, the surrender is permanent.  If for some reason the adoption falls through, the children are not left orphans and the parents retain their legal rights. If after a year the adoption is still pending the parent can also change their mind and revoke the surrender.  (This is new. It used to expired after a year of being signed.)

A trial can be a lengthy process and it opens up the case to an appeals period.  There are motions to allow evidence and witnesses and continuances while everyone gets their argument together.  Some people come willingly to court, others have to be subpoenaed (court ordered to appear).  In Illinois a TPR trial has two parts a termination hearing (which can last several days depending on the length of time in care, number of children, and number of bio parents) and a best interest hearing.  The two parts allows the court to terminate rights in the best interest of the kids if for some reason the termination hearing ends up that there is insufficient reason to terminate rights based on the parents actions. Then there is a 30 day period that the bio parent can appeal errors that the trial court may have made (such as not specifically telling a bio parent they were at risk for having their parental rights terminated at a previous permanency hearing). If the appeal is granted they may have to go back and give the bio parent more services or hold the trial again.  The appeal can also go up through the higher courts.  

A TPR trial puts the adoption at risk no matter how certain DCFS is that they will win.  It also puts us in limbo. Whereas a Directed  Consent would allow us to move forward right away.  Visits with the bios also continue until termination happens so we will still have to deal with the pre and post visit behaviors. 

That leads me into the 2nd question of why would the goal change be bad before year end.  The simple answer is that holidays, especially the family centric holidays, are really, really hard on kids who have been in foster care. Another major loss at this time of year would be tough on my kids and it could have lasting effects.

Let's also be serious. Holidays are hard on adults with no trauma history. Raise your hand if you, or someone you are related to, turns into an absolute whack job the minute the Christmas commercials start airing. 

Foster and trauma kids have no idea how to cope with the expectations and the added pressure of gifts.  They don't believe they are worth anything and therefore don't deserve the fun/gifts/food that the holidays bring. They feel guilty when they are given things because their bio parents probably didn't have those resources.  It's totally overwhelming.  That's why it was no surprise that I had to hospitalize Jelly Bean in mid-December.

My kids moved to my house the week of Christmas last year. They suffered a huge loss of people they loved. It took Stella months and a therapy session with those foster parents to allow her to move forward and let them go. I can't imagine adding the loss of her Mom to that as well. (It is also her birthday month and birthdays are hard too.)

My fear is that too much loss would be associated with the end of year holiday season and my kids would be robbed of the magic. At this point, even though they are all tired of moving from house to house, none of them are really excited about the prospect of being adopted.  So even though being done with foster care would be the greatest Christmas present I could hope for, it would make this time of year more painful for my kids.

I touched on trauma anniversary or "traumaversary" in my last post.  It's the term used to describe a day or time period that past trauma occurred.  traumaversaries can continue to cause reactions for years and years to come.  I don't want Christmas and New Years to be traumaversaries, at least not bigger ones...

I hope this explains my last post a little better. In the end, my goal is to move them out of foster care as quick as we can but that can also impact how they experience seasons in the future.  At the end of the day it doesn't really matter what I want because I have no control over it.

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