Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Long Overdue Update

Yes, I know it has been eons since I last posted. If one was graded on one's blogging consistency, I would get a giant red F slashed across my blog.

But I do have a valid excuse. I think. Well, you will all be the judge of that, won't you?

The boys' mother appealed her voluntary termination of parental rights. An appeal hearing was held earlier this month. She successfully won her appeal (due to an error on the part of the court, not based on her written appeal, which basically said she felt pressured to do it and now regrets doing it) and so her parental rights were re-instated.

Not only did she appeal her termination on the very last day. she signed up for parenting classes, actually decided to attend the counseling sessions the court ordered for her ages ago, and began "acting out" in very alarming ways- a series of events that caused us to be concerned for the safety of the children- events that, for confidentiality reasons I could not, and cannot blog about {thus, the long silence on this blog} that resulted in a no contact order being put in place that requires the boys mom to not be anywhere near the boys, us, or have anyone initiate contact with the boys or us on her behalf. One particularly scary event involving the school has, hopefully, resulted in the school taking their security more seriously.

Knowing the nature of this case and the erratic behavior of the boys' mother, the court left the original TPR (termination of parental rights) trial on the court calendar. The trial took place earlier this month and R and I both attended. Again, for confidentiality reasons, I cannot go into details about the trial, but suffice it to say that both R and I found ourselves fighting back tears as we listened to the witnesses testify about the specifics of the abuse and neglect case. I wish I could say that I was filled with compassion for the boys' mother, but if I said that it would be a lie. I accept that life is messy and that she is very much a product of her own childhood and the circumstances of generational poverty. I also cannot excuse her for repeatedly refusing all the services and assistance offered to her and to the children that would have really helped her be a better parent and improved the economic conditions of their lives.

The trial took the better part of the day. The judge did not take a recess to make his decision. He made it on the spot. Her parental rights were terminated.

What happens now? Even though the boys' mother's rights have been terminated, there is still the matter of the parental rights of the boys' respective fathers. Hoss' father will, hopefully, relinquish his parental rights voluntarily. He is not able, nor does he desire, to have custody of Hoss(also, he is currently "back together" with the boys mother and they are, supposedly, working on having a girl this time). Little Joe's father is a little more tricky- the powers that be know who he might be, but are not certain. What will probably end up happening is that the court will file a "absent father" termination in Little Joe's case.

Once that is completed, the boys will be moved to the adoption unit and efforts will be made to find the boys a permanent family.

So, where does that leave R and I? We have decided we would like to adopt Hoss and Little Joe. In an ordinary case, we would be the preferred adoptive home for the boys, given that we are their current foster home and they have bonded with us.

This is not an ordinary case, however. Both boys are Native American. There is a federal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), that was created to provide safegaurds to keep native american children in native american homes. As a result, the standards for terminating the rights of a native american parent are much higher than the standards for non native parents (which should give you an indication of how bad things really were, for the boys' mom to lose her parental rights) and the placement requirements for Native American children are more restrictive-----As we are not Native American, we are the least preferred placement for the boys. If there is a native american home available to the boys anywhere in the country the boys would go there first. The emphasis is on the preservation of native culture over and above the emotional impact on the child to be removed from a foster family that they have bonded with and consider their family (especially in this case, as the boys are far too young to really have a sense of being foster kids etc.).

Please know that I am not in any way criticizing ICWA. I completely understand why the law was created and I do support the ultimate goal of the law- the preservation of native american families and culture.

This does not make it any easier for us, however. We do love the boys dearly. It is hard knowing that we basically have a snowballs chance in hell of adopting them. Is there some slim chance? yes. But it is slim.

still, we are going to try.

What then, does this mean for our vietnam adoption? At this point, we are still on the waiting list. We are reluctant to remove ourselves from the waiting list, as we know it is highly likely the boys will be adopted by a native american parent. It is a sticky situation however, as our contract with our agency stipulates that we will not pursue another adoption during this time (at this point we are technically not pursuing as the boys are not free for adoption until the fathers parental rights are relinquished/terminated) and that if we do adopt or become pregnant we will lose the money we have paid the agency and not be allowed to adopt a child from Vietnam.

Basically, we are in a horrible situation. We cannot adopt the boys and adopt a baby from Vietnam. If we try to adopt the boys and are unable to do so, we will suffer a double loss- the two boys AND the Vietnamese baby that we have dreamed of and worked so hard towards bringing home.

of least importance, but, since we are far from rich, still a concern: we will be out a lot of money. Money that we cannot easily pull together to attempt another adoption.

Well, there you have it. That is why I have been silent. That is what is going on.

I don't know what the hell to think, feel, or do.

What I do know is that these boys are amazing. Oh my. if you could only see how well they are doing! They are, as their attorney stated in his closing, true miracles. They are catching up so rapidly it takes our breath away. They have gone from two of the most seriously developmentally delayed children the social service agency has ever encountered to two little boys who are happy, active, and rapidly gaining ground in the areas of speech, fine and gross motor, and social skills.

And, if in the end, the memories of these boys and the blessing of being a part of their transformation is all we are left with---well, there will be some comfort in that. Enough, at least, to help us get back up on our feet and face whatever future we have heading our way.