Monday, January 23, 2017

Fighting for him

I am not looking forward to breaking the news when Crocodile moves.  It's still not official news, but we're getting closer.

I've imagined it for months and months of course, but the imagined responses get more dramatic as time goes on.  Over a year and a half.  Sometimes they're based on real responses I get when I convey that he will likely move.

"But... after all this time with you?"
"I just assumed you were adopting him!"
"He's like a part of your family now."
"He's spent almost half of his life with you."
"Wow, that's going to be tough on your kids."
"Aren't you going to fight to keep him?"

And twice now we have had people involved in a case assume that we would be a competing party when we won't be.  It's so strange to clear that up.  I feel like I have to say ten times how much I love him to counter how strange "we aren't trying to adopt him" sounds.

Don't get me wrong, we would be a competing party if we needed to be for him.  I tried not to get too into imagining the scenarios, but I pictured one in which his sisters were matched with an adoptive family near us but they didn't find one for him, and we could be the family to keep them in touch.  Pretty unlikely, but maybe it could happen.  Or the search for an adoptive family went on really, really long and he was having more behavior challenges, and it was best not for him to move.  We never said never for adopting him.  But we said our answer was no until it was clear, absolutely clear, that it was not just a good option, but a necessary option.

Instead, we're fighting for him to be with his sisters.  We're fighting for him to have a good and secure transition.  We're fighting for him to be supported with services, good information, and good records.

Fighting for him means letting him go.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Acronym of the Day: TPR

TPR stands for termination of parental rights.  Online I see it used as a verb (TPR-ed) or a noun (TPR happened last month).  It means that the parents lose their parental rights to their foster children.  They can no longer have a say in how they will be raised, medical decisions and information, etc.  They have no plan to accomplish to regain custody of their children.  They are parents in history and they may possibly have parental roles in open adoption scenarios, but they are no longer legally parents.

As I said in a previous post, Crocodile's parents' rights were terminated.  He is the first foster child that we've been through that experience with.  Some of our previous cases also reached that point, but not when the children were with us, so we didn't experience it firsthand.

There is such deep sadness within TPR, and even people who believe it is the right outcome for the children feel awful during the court events that end in TPR.  The case must be made strongly, so everything possible is used against parents.  It surprised me how wrong that felt, that while I may have supported the outcome, and I wanted to object and say that some of this really wasn't that bad, and really, are we all such perfect parents?  Do they have to bring up this, and that, and that?  Can't we just boil it down to the most substantial reasons for this terrible thing, this permanent separation between parents and their children?

I expected the sadness, but I did not expect some dramatic events that happened on the day of TPR.  I won't go into detail, but the desperation was palpable. the grief so thick in the air, churning into anger.

I dream of better solutions.  Could victims of some types live in intentional communities that support them as parents, that help them heal?  Could we as a society prevent these terrible days that begin lifetimes of loss?

So many people in the room clearly wanted this day over with.  Some would walk away having spent another sad day in their professions.  We would walk away knowing we would continue to care for our foster child who would no longer visit parents, at least not for a long time, and would eventually need to process this loss.  His parents would walk away knowing a door had closed.  But I didn't see his mother walk away.  I only saw her weeping in her seat, a family member comforting her, as we quietly filed out.

Come, Lord Jesus.