Foster Care – Our Final Chapter

11 06 2018

Even after the dynamics of our second placement, we knew we weren’t finished with this foster care journey. We got two girls out of a group home in August of 2011. They were amazing young ladies who were about 26 months apart in age. They started going to the same school where my wife worked. The next year we enrolled them in the local elementary school as my wife was changing schools and we thought it would be good for them to go to school with other kids in the neighborhood.

It was about this time we were asked if we would be willing to adopt the two girls. We had already raised four kids through the teenage years and did we really want to do that again? Did I really want to go through the teenage years again with two more girls?We prayed about it and realized that God wanted us to take that step. So we said yes and then received a court order to become certified to adopt them as soon as the severance process was completed.

Though we didn’t talk to the girls about adopting them, having been with us for over a years, the girls started asking about where they would go to school for Junior High and High school. We emotionally got way ahead of the process. On the day that was supposed to be the start of the severance trial, literally an hour before the proceeding was supposed to start, the relatively new DCS worker told me they were going to be sending the girls back home with mom in 10 days. I think this DCS case worker had been on the case for a month or so when this happened.

For those of you who have read all my posts about foster care, the organization formerly known as Child Protective Services (CPS) was reorganized into the Department for Child Safety (DCS).

Anyway, to say the least I was devastated at this change of events. There was no hint that things had changed or that the plan had changed from severance to reunification. There was no consultation with us about when would be a good time to transition the girls from our care back to their mother. The date that was chosen was one week before fall break. Not that I ever wanted them to leave, but leaving school at fall break and starting a new school at the end of fall break would have been a better transition for the girls. Nothing short of the judge changing the order would be good for us but we were at least aware things like this could happen.

There was no way that I could break this news to the girls in a detached manner and I didn’t want to make this any harder on them then I thought it would be. I asked their DCS worker to give them the news. They knew something was up by the way we acted but it wasn’t until a few days later that their DCS case worked called and asked if they wanted to go home with mom. The youngest immediately said yes while the older was definitely more conflicted between her feelings for us and her feelings for her mom.

We told them that we still loved them deeply and after consulting with their mother did give them our contact information. It was one of the toughest things I have ever done to have their case worker pick them up from our home knowing they would never return and trying all the time to put on a brave front to not make it any harder on them.

We were deeply hurt and consulted a good friend who is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). She said the best thing to do was to contact the DCS ombudsman and file a complaint. She did tell us that complaining as hurt foster parents would likely be ignored. Instead she suggested reporting that DCS didn’t follow their own rules or allow us as foster parents to do what they trained us to do. That is to help the kids with transitions.

I filed the complaint online and a ew days later got a call from the ombudsman’s office. I told them that we are required to perform 30 hours of training on how to help kids transition. I also told them that we were not asked about timing for the transition. When they asked what they could do for me, I told them nothing unless they could reverse the court order, which I knew they couldn’t do. I told them they could give the other foster parents of the siblings of the girls we had time to help the kids transition like they trained us to do.

This complete reversal, and in my opinion abuse, by DCS caused us to take a few months off to recover. In that time we prayed and sensed that our journey with foster care was over. Little did I know that God was making space in our lives for another family issue.

While the girls never contracted us, we have seen the girls since they left. With their mom’s permission, we were able to take them for an afternoon and spend some time with them. They treated us and interacted with us as if nothing had happened. We hope and pray that they do well with their mother in the future.

Until next time…


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