Skip to main content

Surrender

Its been a hectic and interesting week.  I'm busy with the move, grad school, and a lice infestation. (Seriously the grossest thing I've had to do as a mother.  I'll take stomach flu over lice any day.)  And of course this is the week that Caseworker #3 reaches out about Bio Dad possibly relinquishing his rights.  He wants to know if he did sign a surrender, would we still involve him in his children's lives and allow him to maintain a relationship with him.

My head may spin off.  For real.

Not because of the question but because of the timing. 

PEOPLE LISTEN UP! I can't handle one more thing that requires concentration. Or thought. Or empathy.  My brain is mush and I have a Strengths Assessment from the folks over at Gallup that says empathy is not one of my strengths. Seriously out of 35 strengths, empathy doesn't make the top 30.

Something as important as the discussion of openness in adoption requires careful consideration.

Not seeing his Bio Dad again would crush Simon.

I met Bio Dad once when I picked the kids up from a visit.  We have a service that transports the kids to and from visits which are 45-60 minutes away from our house so run ins are rare.  (The kids get transported to a fast food place near Bio Dad. And I've said over and over we have one 10 minutes from our house and doesn't it make sense for the Bio Dad (who is supposed to be working towards getting his kids) to have to travel instead of the kids but that falls on deaf ears...) You either meet parents at court or case reviews.  Because we work and the case review is in the county handling the case for DCFS, and not the county where the children reside, we mostly do those and family meetings on the phone. Bio Dad has not been to court when I have been there.  We have not gone the last few hearings because they don't really pertain to the kids (these have been about scheduling the TPR Trial), court runs late, and the courthouse is 1 1/2 hours from our house. 

Bio Dad was nice.  He was dressed nice, he smiled, seemed happy to meet me and let me snap a few pictures of the kids with him.  Aside from his lack of consistency with the visits and non-compliance with the case plan, he has been appropriate with the kids.  He brings activities for them, provides meals, and sends gifts that are age appropriate.  He also sends shoes which is fantastic! Kids always need shoes.  (They do not need: candy, chips, nail polish, glitter make-up, or another doll that looks like she's dressed in lingerie. Seriously.  The kids came home with another of this same doll.  Now tell me she doesn't look like a hooker?)

All I know about this guy is that he beat up Bio Mom while she was pregnant with Sarah.  Got Bio Mom pregnant a second time, and then was sent to jail for beating her up again after breaking into her house. His kids really love spending time with him. He has at least one other child. And now, he would consider surrender if we'd be open to allowing him contact with his kids.

I'm sure I've got a very limited view here.  Similar to Maria, I can only see a very small window into this person. And now we've got to decide what a relationship would look like.

I started with asking Caseworker #3 what "involved" and "maintain a relationship" means to him.  I think at a very minimum, we would require some sort of meeting with the therapy team so that he can understand more about the mental health of the kids.  A lot of our decisions about contact are going to be based on where they are at emotionally with adoption and their mental health treatment plans.

Can he be respectful of boundaries we set up? Will he be sober? Does he understand everything will be supervised? Will he respect our role as the parents? Does he understand he won't get a voice in decision making pertaining to the kids?

Maybe he just doesn't want to lose track of them? Maybe a shared Facebook Page and a semi-annual visit plan would be enough?

Last month this wasn't something he was willing to consider.  Maybe his attorney advised him that he may have better access to the kids if he volunteers to sign the surrender.  (We never offered this, but its the logical conclusion.) Maybe his attorney told him he has no chance of keeping his rights in tact because he didn't work the case plan (again).  But I think it was the Christmas gift we sent.  A framed professional portrait of Simon and Sarah.  Their adorable dimples and huge grins in a blue frame that they lovingly picked out.  I also sent a copy of the photo and their school pictures.  Such an easy thing to do and it may be the olive branch that allows my kids to have less loss in their life.  Both kids told both Hubby and I separately that their Dad said he loved the photo and to thank us for sending.





 

Comments

  1. a couple of thoughts on that. If the father has not worked the plan, the likelihood of him staying in the picture later is next to nil... think about 2 yrs and then he will disappear altogether (going by the experiences of others). For some pictures and letters twice a year (not at Christmas) is all they need. I do NOT recommend facebook as a good place. You'd have to filter too much. I consider it too involved. Also, it should be in the plan that if he is EVER inappropriate, or drunk or high, on a visit, etc... then the contact plan is null and void. And he doesn't need to know where you live - especially since he has a record of breaking in...Our plan is a once a year visit. We make all the arrangements and drive the 3 hours to see her and we keep it to 2 hours max because my kids hate it and she is too intense. She also sends a package to a po box once a year. She emails me on an email account that is set up for her. I answer her when I have time and send her pictures through that account. If she were to ever show up drunk or otherwise we have the right to terminate the plan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for the comment! Our state does not recognize a formal adoption agreement or visitation plan for adopted children. Anything we decide will be totally at our discretion.

    I totally agree about the firm boundaries and clear expectations. If we were to set up a Facebook it would be a private page or additional account.

    The 2 year drop off is interesting. The therapists mentioned this to me tonight too. Great information to think over. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

She Never Cried

Sheila called to wish Sarah Happy Birthday and she shared a story with her that as a baby she never cried. Not when she was hungry, not when she was tired, never. She never cried.
A little later Sarah said to me:
"Mom, my Mom said I never cried. I don't really believe that. That can't be true can it? Don't all babies cry sometimes?"
Oh my sweet girl. The red flag went up for her too. As I listened to Sheila share this story fondly, I felt sad. That was a sign of her RAD. That was because she couldn't count on adults. That was because she cried and no one came so she learned not to cry.
"It doesn't sound right to you, does it?"
"No."
"I know your Mom shared that story because she thinks it's cute you never cried. It made me sad. You are right babies cry so adults take care of them. You know how you had a lot of different adults that were supposed to take care of you as a baby?"
"Yeah, like 10 foster parents."
"Well …

Minimum Parenting Standards - Monday's Post

I can't figure out Blogger's time zone and I may not have time to write Monday evening so here is Monday's post.

This week we are having another "team" meeting. This time to discuss the "minimum parenting standards" that the kid's Mom has to meet in order to be "good enough" to parent them.

Now I have all kids of issues with this entire exercise. The first being that these kids deserve better than the minimum. The second, that good enough isn't going to cut it with their issues. The hardest part though is being asked to write down a guide to being their parent FOR their parent. Putting my commitment to first reunify a family to the test. It is one thing to suggest ways in which she can be a better parent and to support the goal by not bad mouthing her and encouraging the kids to share their true feelings. It is an entirely different thing to sit down and write a guide for a woman who has yet to grasp the basics after two years.

It wa…

Reader Question: Did You change their names?

Yes we did. We actually started using their new names shortly after their good bye visit with Sheila last August. So the only name that really changed this week was their last name (kind of, one of them actually had our last name). We had started using them so we wouldn't have to try to do a name change mid-school year. Plus the kids had only been in the school the last 1/2 of the year so they didn't know everyone yet. The school was great about going with the new first names.
At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names. 
The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". W…

FAQs

I had some questions asked of me recently that I thought I would answer here:

1) How do you keep doing this after so much crap?
I actually had two different foster moms ask me this. One dealing with a false allegation and one in a kinship case with a pregnant, unstable bio mom.

I'm not sure I have an eloquent answer to this question. I think I've reached a point where I see the bigger picture - the kids.  That's not to say this stuff doesn't drive me nuts or make me emotional. I would be spitting fire if we had to deal with a false allegation. I'm really upset about the potential of having to make a decision about another baby. But if not me, who? We are good at this. There are kids that need me. And I probably need them. I am a caretaker by nature.  What would I be doing with myself if I didn't have 15 different obligations all at once? I have no idea because I've always been this way. And right now all of the current drama is related to my children. I s…

It is a process

It's a physical ache. A pain in the middle of my chest.  And it causes hot tears, the kind that sting my eyes.  It settled over me today and I couldn't shake it.

It started with news that more people in our lives are expecting and today, I just couldn't muster the happiness.  I heard complaints of not feeling well and my ability to plaster the smile on my face just vanished from my body. I left the house to "run an errand" but really I just needed an escape.

All week I've been able to communicate and tell people about Solana leaving without any trouble.  I probably sounded like a PSA for "How to be the role model foster parent".

People were asking:

So will you get to adopt the little one? Is she staying?

Well no, actually.  She is going home in a few weeks. That's the goal of foster care. We are really happy for her dad. He really gets it. We've built a relationship. I'm so glad she doesn't have to go through the pain of adoption or …