Monday, June 1, 2009

fired up.

*accidentally hit post before I was ready....I get fired up and my fingers have a mind of their own!*

I am totally going to use this blog to vent. If I don't get this out here, I'll end up emailing it and getting myself into trouble!

I got an email forwarded to me from J's case worker that was sent to her by J's mom's worker. She said that we could do every other week visitation for now, but that it is important for us to realize that the goal is to reunify J with his mom and that it is ...get this... his right to see his mother. Which, in my opinion, implies that I was trying to withhold this right from him by suggesting less often visits.

Hold up.

Seriously? I am a pediatrician and pride myself on being child advocate and I'm pretty sure that this child's rights were violated a loooooong time ago. Don't even get me started on his rights. He had the right to be drug free while in utero. He has the right to be loved and cared for and have his best interest at mind. Just because he can't speak doesn't mean that we should assume his best interests are the same as his mother's (I use that term loosely).

Is this woman kidding herself? I know that she's just doing what she's been told by DHS but I cannot believe that an educated person would really believe that being 'reunited' with the birth family is always the best. DHS needs to change it's goal from reunification with the birth family to placing a child in a permanent, loving, SAFE home regardless of who that home is with.

Besides, what kind of message are we sending by putting so much weight on blood relatives? Yes, I'm sure there are plenty cases where just the trauma of being taken from your parents can be tremendous. But, the risks and benefits have to be weighed. The cookie cutter solution is not teaching these parents how to follow the rules long enough to get their kids back.

Whose best interest are we really putting first here? Who does it benefit at this point to have weekly visits? Who is going to advocate for J if Heath and I don't? But, if we stand up for what we think is best for him, we will be accused of having our own interests in mind because we've gotten more attached than we should.

I know it's waaaaay too early in the ball game to be this upset, but this email struck a cord with me. J's mom hasn't done much, good or bad, for me to expect DHS to want anything but reunification - but the culture of placing kids back into less than ideal homes just because they're blood relatives has got to change.

I was talking to my attending today who had a foster son for about 5 months before he was sent back to live with his birth mom in a rehab facility. I can't believe that DHS would take a child out of a stable environment to live at rehab with his birth mother. Is being with his birth mother so important that a child needs to move before she has really proven to have her life straight? Of course she's drug free - she's basically a caged animal who has been temporarily taken out of her poisonous environment! Put her back on the street and give her some time before putting that child back in her arms.

I don't think we can just expect failure either, but give these parents more time to show their colors before uprooting a child again and causing more irreversible damage.

Another friend's dad is a pediatrician who almost got arrested for contempt of court. While going to testify on a case he told the judge "I know you'll do what you're going to regardless, but my opinion is that if you place this child back with this family - the next time I see him, he'll be dead". Unfortunately, it was true. This is obviously the extreme, but it but it happens!

I just feel so powerless. I know that all we can do is pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. We have to pray that J's judge makes the right decisions and that God opens his eyes to what is best for J and only J. We have to pray that J's mom will do what is best for J. We have to pray for a peace about whatever may happen to him.

Sorry for this post - I'm sure it's all over the place and hard to follow. Writing in stream of conciousness is all I can get out right now because the thoughts are flowing so quickly. I really already feel better. I vented to 3 or 4 friends on the phone before even typing this because I wanted to choose my words wisely.

I feel better now.


Julia said...

really, what better way to vent than through your blog. I swear it's the cheapest, healthiest form of therapy I know. And you have every RIGHT [dont' you love that word] to be upset. Vent away. I'll pray for you guys, knowing that this really will turn out for the best.

Anonymous said...

i don't know you and found your blog randomly, but i must chime in. i work for inner city young adults who come to my org. as a last chance. so often, as i'm interviewing them, i find they have been in and out of foster care from birth to 19 years of age. if i could tell you the horror stories i hear from them, it would break your heart. from what i've read, i truly believe that this baby would be better of with you. obviously, it's best if a birth mother can truly pull it together, but from my experience it's rare. i know that most of my clients would have given anything for a stable and loving home. good luck with this adventure, i hope the best for the baby.

Jessalynn said...

Preach it, Sister. Know you are in my prayers. Love you!

Anonymous said...

Well spoken, my friend. Well spoken indeed. I've been thinking over our conversation the other day about J's birth mom and DHS' goal of reunification with birth families, and all I can say is that I agree with you 100%. It is NOT always in the best interest of the child to be in the biological family just because they share the same genes. Not at all.

::sigh:: I could get up on a soapbox with you, I have no doubt.

mrs.leah.maria said...

Wow Erin, I completely reiterate what Julia wrote!

Mrs. Dimple said...

Vent away!! It's so interesting to get your perspective. I can't believe how twisted it all is... I pray the judge sees that your intentions are SO good and right for the little guy!

Molly said...

Oh, I am fired up just reading this! I am so sorry you got this email!

Seriously, how can blood be that big of a deal??? Is it worth the risk? Didn't they already get enough chances?

Oh this brings me back to our days with Cooper before we lost him (temp.). I just remember feeling so helpless and was often reminded I had no rights and that maybe I should not have let myself fall in love before it was final. That thought alone just ticks me off. Why is it wrong to love our children that we've been given???

Okay, I could go on and on. Too things that I hope bring you peace. Always picture J in the hands of Jesus. That's where he is, regardless of where he is in earth. He is a child of God. Second, keep this sweet song in your head.

God will make a way
Where there seems to no way,
He works in ways we cannot see,
He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to his side.

I sang this to myself and Cooper constantly before all was said and done. And now I simply cannot sing it without crying. He made a way.


Mandi said...

Amen and amen!!! I'll be praying the same prayer for J that I prayed for our little guy...that all involved in the decision making process would be given wisdom and discernment. We constantly prayed Jeremiah 29:11 over D.

Lord, we know you have plans to prosper J and not to harm him, plans to give him hope and a future. Let it be, Lord!

Sarah said...


I also found your blog randomly one day and have just kept up with things, praying and hoping for a baby for you.

My parents were foster parents for 15 years and the situations that came through our house and the "rights" that parents had were horrifying! I could hop right on your soapbox with you! I don't think anything gets my blood boiling more or faster!!

My husband and I have three biological kids (10,8,5) and we wanted to give a child a chance at life that wouldn't otherwise have one. We adopted our 7 year old son in November from foster care. He was taken away from mom at 3.5 years. She had been keeping him locked in a room, sedated by over-dosing him with over-the-counter cough syrup. It's estimated that he had 5 minutes of adult interaction per day the first 3.5 years of life. His five month old brother died of this treatment. That is when social services got involved. It took 2.5 years to sever her parental rights!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? He had visitation with her throughout those years.

You can only imagine the difficulties has had, mainly in development. God's hand is on his life. I take comfort in the fact that the seven years that he wasn't with me, God was with him. And He's bigger and stronger than locked rooms, over-dosing, and psychotic mothers.

My son is clearly my boy. He's wholeheartedly bonded and attached to our family. God is big.

I will continue to pray that J lives with you forever.

Lisa said...

Oh, Erin, I'm so sorry. You are doing the right thing and you and Heath are truly angels for J. Thinking and praying for you all...

KK said...

I'm just a lurker but I wanted to let you know that this really hits home for me. Some friends of our family were fostering a 13-month old boy. He was taken away to be cared for by his aunt (along with his 2-year old sister) through the child welfare's "kinship" program. His aunt beat poor Christopher to death and tortured his sister. The story has been all over the news here.

Anyway, please don't give up. The system is a mess, but it's people like you that can help.

sarah full of grace. said...

love you sisterrr.

Meredith said...

I recently had a conversation with a judge, and was asking him how he can keep sending kids back to visit with their extremely abusive parents, even when the kids don't WANT to visit. The judge told me that in order to terminate a parent's parental rights, the state has to prove Beyond A Reasonable Doubt that the parent is not fit to parent that particular child. Additionally, the parent has to be shown to be unfit at the time of the TPR trial, not just previously. It's extremely difficult to proceed to a TPR in most states, and the Attorney General's office treats it like a murder case. The judge in dependency court told me that his job is to make sure that when the time for termination comes, there will be no past reason (i.e. I didn't have visits with my child, so you didn't observe that I'm an unfit parent; or, I didn't have frequent enough visits that allowed my child to bond to me) that would ever let the parents appeal the termination of their parental rights...because if they do, and they win, they can't be tried again.

Hearing that, it was sometimes easier to me to understand why judges and caseworkers made the decisions that they made. Does the child still sometimes get hurt in the process? Yes, and that's a total system flaw!

It's good for me to read your thoughts and your perspective, because as someone who works for the other side of the social services coin, the mentality we're trained with is absolutely pro-parent in most circumstances. To some degree, I understand the mentality that kids are often more stable with a family member for permanent placement. I remember the think that shocked me MOST when I started working in this field, was how many adoptive parents of foster kids call DHS once the kids they've adopted are teens and "return" the kids. I have seen it happen HUNDREDS of times, but never with a relative. I'm not saying that all adoptive parents would even consider that behavior, but I can tell to that culture has largely shaped the placement with a parent or relative mandate.