Friday, April 3, 2009

Adoption Story: What will happen to Corazon?

Adoption story continues. There were so many things going on at the same time that the story gets confusing if I try to tell it chronologically. I already wrote about the social workers involved in Corazon's case. In this post I will discuss some of my struggle with finding out if Corazon was going to be free for adoption and my own feelings about whether Corazon really might belong with a member of her birth family. This part of the adoption story takes place during an 8 month period between February and September 2005. Edited: Oops, I haven't posted about her social workers yet. It is written but I haven't posted it yet.

We were in a serious holding pattern. I had very little information about what was really going on but I knew there had been a number of court hearings and sessions due to the questions and issues raised by all sides. I had many pressing questions/issues: Would she get to stay? What was causing her outrageous behaviors? How could I help her? Was social services standing in the way of Corazon being with her family? Was that where she belonged? Because so much of this was beyond my control I decided that I had to let as much of it go as I could. I started viewing her as one of my foster kids who might be reunified and my role was to help her be safe and get healthy for whatever happened next.

The social worker maintained that my home was the best place for her and that the family members that had been brought forward were unfit. (First time I heard there was more than one!) I finally asked to speak with her supervisor, who I had met briefly during the disclosure meeting. Her supervisor was great. She gave me a whole lot more information about the issues surrounding the court delays and hearings that had taken place since that first one where TPR wasn't granted. She clarified who the various relatives were and assured me they were not interested or able to care for Corazon. I made my point about wanting to make sure they didn't block a family member's ability to have Corazon simply because the "liked" me better. I felt that she heard my concerns and she gave me important information about why the grandmother who had been put forward as interested in Corazon could not be approved to take her. What little she revealed raised significant concerns and include very serious criminal activity in her past and the fact that she had a convicted child sex offender living in her home. When I asked if the judge had this information, I was told the judge did and had dismissed both of those issues as having taken place in the past AND as "fixable" if she had the sex offender move out. The judge had also ordered the department to "waive" their requirements (the ones that keep them from approving homes where the adults have serious criminal charges and/or convictions, among other things) and do whatever they could to make that home an acceptable one. In our state the only one who could approve such a waiver was the tope person in charge at the state office level. The supervisor seemed genuinely puzzled about the reason why the judge was so invested in having this grandparent approved. Furthermore our state system had been in the media at the time due to some pretty awful stuff that had happened to adopted kids in homes where waivers had been granted in the past. These facts seemed to raise even more concerns about why the judge was so interested in having this happen. Social services was moving the case up to the highest levels in their offices to comply with the judges orders and to figure out what else they could do. The supervisor apologized profusely to me about their having expected that TPR was imminent at the time I got Corazon. She said that as an experienced supervisor she had not seen this type of advocacy and interest (by a judge) on behalf of any child before. She truly believed that the grandmother's home was unfit but she also very concerned about the judge's interest in having that home approved. So at this point everyone was in and out of court and we were in a holding pattern. I was grateful for the information and believed the supervisor. She strongly encouraged me to call the social service attorney in charge of the case and speak with her directly because she understood why I might not want to believe her department anymore given that they had misled me about Corazon's case. At the time, I was satisfied with the supervisor's explanations so I did not bother to call the attorney.

The social worker had suggested that we start therapy to help her adjust to her new home. I jumped at the suggestion and was anxious to have therapy given all the behaviors I was seeing. Corazon was still doing all kinds of inappropriate things, stealing, hitting, lying, raging, manipulating, peeing all over the place or at will, withholding pee, farting all the time especially when I got close to her, shopping for new parents, spitting, screaming, etc. She had nightmares about "monsters" stealing her from our house especially once visits with her mother and grandmother began. She raged more and more and was becoming more distressed and hypervigilant. She started saying goodbye to me each day by declaring she might be going to her "new" parents from daycare and that she would (or wouldn't) miss me depending on the day.

I kept trying to make her feel safe and had established a pretty regular and consistent routine. We had our moments where she seemed really vulnerable and ready to open up (brief and fleeting but there.) She also had this heartbreaking way of detailing what an awful, bad person she was and why she should not be loved. We were on a serious rollercoaster and I was hopeful that therapy might help. Three months from the time she moved in we were finally assigned a therapist who was "experienced" with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder.) I was thrilled! (Can you tell how naive I still was about this stuff?)

Three months into the placement my life and schedule were no longer my own. I was still working full-time but managing Corazon's schedule and her issues were more than another full-time job. I was juggling an awful lot of people, meetings, and visits especially given everyone's sudden interest in Corazon. I cannot imagine there are too many foster children who had as many people checking in about her on such a regular basis. I had monthly visits from my social worker, her current worker, her previous worker, her mother's worker, the supervisors of all these people. I had weekly calls from her social worker and her mother's social worker. Corazon still had weekly scheduled visits with mother and grandmother that I had to prep her for even though they often didn't show. (Over an 11 month period they kept only 7 of those weekly appointments.) Even so, the mother's social worker insisted on picking her up weekly from daycare in the middle of the morning, taking her to the office to wait for her mother or grandmother, only to have them not show up. It took months before I could pressure the daycare and social worker to stop picking her up until after (and if) the mother showed up.

I also had almost daily meetings at her daycare (which had finally decided I was committed enough to the kid that they could tell me all the awful things she was doing to herself and others). Then other people started coming out of the woodwork to check in on Corazon. Corazon's attorney had called me the day before the TPR hearing (9 days into her placement with me) to tell me that Corazon would probably be removed from my care that weekend! Other than that he had not bothered to check in with her in the ENTIRE time I had her. I don't believe he had actually EVER met her. She also had a guardian ad litem who also had never met her but suddenly started calling weekly about her and then decided she needed to meet with her. I told her what Corazon knew and didn't know about what was going on. She was 4 and didn't really understand adoption so I had tried to explain things to her as simply as possible. At the time her social worker had told her she was going to have a forever home and now we weren't sure but everyone had agreed to not let her feel bounced around again and even her birth mother didn't want people talking about the court stuff with her. We went to meet with the guardian ad litem and that was absolutely horrible. She was a pleasant enough attorney who spoke with Corazon in my presence. Thank God! Otherwise I would never have known where half the stuff Corazon came up with later was coming from. The woman decided that Corazon was so smart that she deserved to hear more of the "truth." She proceeded to explain courts, judges, custody, adoption, parental rights termination, etc. to Corazon. The poor child was so overwhelmed and confused by it all but the one clear statement she was able to make several times was that she wanted to live with me "forever and ever and ever."

We started therapy three months into our placement. I had so much hope that this would help Corazon! I would be proven wrong once again!


SocialWkr24/7 said...

So wait! How many social workers were on this case?? In our state there is generally ONE social worker for the family - both the kids and parent(s) are represented by the same worker. And she had an attorney AND a gaurdian ad litem? Here those are the same person! Geesh! No wonder things took forever!

Dia por Dia said...

Yep. I need to set up a cast of characters don't I. I probably should name the folks at least. In my next post I start by discussing the social workers.... but FYI I had 1 (two actually), mom had 1, corazon had 1 (at a time). Mom, social services and kid each had a separate attorney but wait til my post about court (we gain some). Kid had guardian ad litem. Then there were all the supervisors...more to come. Thanks for reading.

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