Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

So my wife and I have been foster parents since July 2018 in Washington state. One child we cared for was a seven year old boy, starting in late July. Last month, he started getting violent, not just throwing things but also punching/kicking/biting. There are several reasons why this behavior started (most of which I won't go into because they're not really relevant), and most people involved (including his trauma therapist) believed this would eventually stop but that it would probably escalate before it got better.

After the third time in January, we told the social worker that we needed to find a new placement for him so that things would be planned. His behavior was getting more extreme, we thought it likely that he would start going after the dogs or the toddler we also have in care, and we didn't want him to be taken by after hours intake social workers in an unplanned placement if a crisis came. Nothing happened on the placement front, and a week later, he melted down again (several fits and meltdowns had been mitigated or redirected in the meantime but those techniques had been getting less reliable anyway), and got violent with my wife again while she was bathing the toddler and I wasn't home.

I was able to calm him down when I got home, the social worker picked up even though it was night, and she came to get him the next day.

This poor kid has had every bad break in life, he's a really smart boy who has been told he's a stupid piece of poo poo (usually accentuated by a sharp backhand or worse both from biodad and biomom's parade of boyfriends), etc. He was with us for just over six months, longer than all his other 10+ (!) placements put together. He made a lot of progress on his development, health, school, etc., at least until a constellation of issues came together and really ripped him apart. I know that we did a lot of good for him, I know we're Great People for fostering him when no one else would, I know that all four of us are better off in the current circumstances (e.g., the toddler both was starting to mimic the 7 yo's fits and was scared by his meltdowns), all of that. But I still feel really guilty that we couldn't keep him and though it's already been a few days I still constantly question myself -- were we as patient as we could have been? Did we do everything we could? Should we have refused the last placement (the toddler) knowing that his presence might cause emotional difficulties for the 7 yo? Etc.

Sorry for dumping on this thread. I didn't know about this thread (though I should have guessed there was one because we're all Olds now) until I just found it. But I feel a little better unburdening myself to others who have an idea of the difficulties in this.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

VorpalBunny posted:

Being a foster parent means we are already emotional people, we feel empathy and love for strangers and do our very best for them. And when we can't be the end-all, be-all solution for their problems, we are likely to feel that immense guilt that comes with being an empathetic person.
Thanks for this. I think it sums up what a lot of us are like and how doing this affects us.

Thanks also to MB!

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Serious Cephalopod posted:

I inherited a teenager last year from our lovely parents. Anyone have advice for raising him? I'm feeding him and making him go to school, so already better than our dad, but I'll try to enforce rules and he'll start getting huffy and dismantling his things 

Lemme know if any background info could help
That's a huge responsibility. I'm guessing you're not too much older than the kid and/or don't have children already? That makes it even more difficult. What do you mean by dismantling things? Like "take your muddy shoes off" and the kid starts throwing stuff around?

Without specifics it's hard to say anything besides platitudes, but based on some assumptions, the two things I would put on the top of the list are:

For you: find a resource (distant family member, friend's parent(s), older coworker, etc.) whose advice on parenting you think you can trust, ask them to grab some coffee with you, tell them what's going on, and get as much advice as they'll give you. Repeat as often as is helpful. You need to develop "parenting mentors", if that makes any sense.

For the kid: therapy if you can at all swing it. Not only do I believe a lot of teenagers can benefit from it, but this kid has already suffered some pretty big upsets in their life (lovely parenting, being forced to move, having to adjust to a new situation, etc.).

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Serious Cephalopod posted:

Thanks everyone for your advice! An update:
My husband helped us reconcile. I (31f) apologised for talking down to my brother (18) about money, and for being disrespectful, and pointed out where I felt he was rude and wasn't sticking with our deal. I also explained that I don't want his whole paycheck, just for him to have a plan to pay me back (I'm going to try to set aside the money for him, anyway). He's going to take a budgeting class (his idea).

Thanks for letting me vent, and giving me advice. So many people around me are unsympathetic to kids and young adults, and it's nice to hear that being nice to him isn't going to turn him into a dirt bag. I'll probably lurk and cheer y'all on for your adoptions and fosters.

Great! Glad to hear it!

You're jumping into the game on Advanced Difficulty, and you've already fingered out one thing that a lot of "parents from birth" never understand: apologizing to your kids and admitting you're wrong are signs of strength, not signs of weakness. You don't undermine your parental authority by saying, "I flew off the handle, it doesn't matter that you broke the rules, I shouldn't have yelled at you/grounded you for a year/called you a problem kid. I'm sorry." You undermine it by being a tyrant whose ego is so fragile you can't be wrong.


Also,

Mocking Bird posted:

You can do this - remember that the goal isn't for the child to be perfect, it's for them to have been better off for having been cared for by you.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

OneSizeFitsAll posted:

Reading through this thread is simultaneously heart-breaking (at all the dreadful "parents" whose kids deserve better) and heart-warming (that there are lots of people who, at great emotional and presumably often financial cost to themselves, want to try and do their best to cancel out the former and give vulnerable children the best chance at a decent life).

I don't know whether I could do what you guys do, although reading through the thread has in part made me want to!
In most or all states in the US, there’s something called “respite care”, where foster parents provide temporary, short-term care for other foster parents (who are going on vacation, need a break, etc.). In Washington state, respite caregivers are generally fully licensed foster parents. My wife and I started off doing this to get used to fostering and make sure we going to be able to do it well/stand doing it before we took a long term placement

quote:

Having said that, my wife last night revisited the question of if I/we were sure we wanted to stop at the two bio kids we have, and we both agreed that like last time we had the discussion we still probably do.

I feel like we are in a good position to help children in need, though, and though incredibly hard work it must also be very rewarding. Also, depending on the age you go for it could circumvent some of our issues about making another child, albeit while introducing some new ones! A few questions for you guys (the final one being pure curiosity).

1. For those of you with bio children, how do you mitigate the effect that fostering/adopting has on them? I'm thinking of making them feel no less important and loved than before and of mitigating the risk of an emotionally damaged child actually harming them in some way
This depends on your kids (both bio and foster). Our biokid loves having younger kids around when she comes to visit from college, but when we first told her about our plan a couple of years ago she was hesitant and thought she would lose out on attention. Fortunately, the kids we’ve had who have spent time with her love her and miss her (and always want to FaceTime with her)

quote:

2. Is anyone here from the UK? I'm curious as to how our two systems differ, having read a lot in this thread about the American system
Every one of the 50 US states is different from the others! Hopefully with a (I’m assuming) national system things might be easier to navigate in the UK.

quote:


3. I've seen "tribal adoptions" mentioned a lot in here. I assume this is where the child is Native American? If so, how would these differ legally from adopting any other child who is a different ethnicity?
You are correct, but the issue is legal instead of ethnic per se. Native American tribes are quasi-sovereign and thus can impose additional controls/processes/parameters upon the entire process. Further, these are not necessarily common across different tribes AND a given state can have a large number of tribes in it. (For Washington, I could name at least 20 tribes I’ve seen listed for kids in need of fostering.) Given that’s Native American/First Nations cultural erasure has been a recurring theme in US and Canadian history, this is an inconvenient but necessary complexity.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Well, gently caress me gently with a chainsaw.

The judge ordered that my foster son continue his semi-weekly supervised visits with his biomom, which previously took place at his day care. Issue: mother now lives far away. The poor guy had to endure hours of driving to visit his biomom and would have had to do it the next day if there hadn't been a transportation issue. Fortunately, by visit time last week, all parties have agreed that we can double up the visits and do them for four hours only one day a week. Not optimal -- a double visit is a long visit for her and may become difficult from what I've heard about her previous visits, and then the poor kid has to unpack and express his feelings either to the transporter (who is a stranger) or by himself alone in a car.


I worry for my boy. This is just going to stretch things out several months in the termination of parental rights process and his having to make this trip for a couple of months...poor kid.

Admiralty Flag fucked around with this message at 01:52 on Sep 17, 2019

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Thanks for all the support! Most goon-positive thread outside of the show your selfie!

In WA state, we learned in "bad parent training" (as I always referred to our educational sessions referencing the old Simpsons episode) that about 1/4 of kids return to their family of origin in a week, 1/4 in a month, 1/4 in a year, and 1/4 stay in the system. But balancing this apparent "move 'em through the door" mentality is that only 10% of the kids who enter the system and leave ever re-enter it, so there is obviously some real change happening on the part of parents and some diligence on the part of the state. And if the biomom really became stable enough to be his permanent caregiver again, we would be both happy and (mostly) sad.

What gets me is subjecting a three-year-old to this insanely long trip to an emotionally charged visit and then make him do that trip all the way back, essentially by himself. But you guys are right. All we can do is be loving and supportive, and give him space where he needs it and attention and hugs the rest of the time.

He's also been talking about family a lot for multiple reasons (the biomom visits, a short vacation that included my mother-in-law, and my bio daughter visiting after semester's end [she has always wanted a younger sibling so she loves playing and interacting with him]). It burns me to do it but I keep cheerfully reinforcing that he has a whole bunch of family that loves him: his useless biomom, his last (and only other) foster family, adoption-focused, with whom he spent a year with only to be re-homed because the slightly older biokid would throw tantrums over anything related to our foster kid, and of course us, the perfect angelic family who can do no wrong. (When I talk about family with him, I very heartwarmingly talk about those other useless fuckers and how they love him just as much as we do. I joke bitterly here but I'm very careful not to even let those thoughts in my head when I'm speaking with him about them.)

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. And for lurkers, no matter how bad I make this whole experience sound, just as an example seeing the delight in his eyes and hearing the thrill in his voice when he shouts, "DADDY!!!" as he runs over to grab me in a bear hug just because I haven't seen him in two hours is like no other feeling in the world, best expressed by a bunch of mostly-misused emojis:


Followed by my sense of smell kicking in five seconds after I pick him up...(pretend like these emojis are showing up; I don't know why they aren't for me even though the flock above is fine):
>sniff< :itwaspoo::itwaspoo::itwaspoo:

Admiralty Flag fucked around with this message at 01:53 on Sep 17, 2019

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Mocking Bird posted:

There's no chance of your parents being able to make a real change regarding physical discipline? Because for foster children it is absolutely a deal breaker, and really having a come to Jesus about it where children can grow up with family who love them would be ideal. It's also possible to let them know those children WILL be yanked away if they ever lay a finger on them.
So is that true in all states? I don't know which state Anne Whateley's parents are in, but I can see Texas -- a state where teachers displayed their wooden paddles proudly on the wall and I was paddled in school for misbehavior (granted, that was like millennia ago cuz I'm an Old) -- having the threshold for acceptable corporal punishment be "no lasting or permanent marks".

In any case it's screwed up thinking. Here's a kid who has -- in the very, very best of circumstances -- been subject to parental neglect for so long and to such a degree they've been removed from their home, something that usually happens only after at least one warning as I understand it. Now, to get them to bond with you and to trust you, you're gonna whup em gud with a leather belt? "drat, something's wrong with this kid. No matter how many whuppings he gets he never learns. Well, he'll figure it out one of these days." *slides belt out of belt loops*

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Kodilynn posted:

No states tolerate it. As to whether there's sufficient staffing to act on it might be another story, but the second there's a report (referral) of abuse/suspected abuse of any kind, which includes physical discipline, if it's investigated and found to be true their home would be 'closed' and they would be barred from opening it again for life. As far as I know that's a rule nation wide. Anyone can call in a report to the state as a concern they're required to investigate it.

If my information is correct it's not so clean cut. I had kids whose first placement lasted a short time because the kids were spanked. I was told on the DL by someone who should know those parents still have their license; they just had to go through remedial training because it was the parents' first placement too.

Whether these parents were truly ignorant or had to be forcefully reminded (and I'm sure that if they did it again they'd have their license yanked), the key thing it's an aberration and (at least in WA state) this sort of poo poo get followed up on and investigated. We had a CPS investigation because one of our kids who had to be housed elsewhere told stories: I held him down with a knee on his back, he had 5 minutes to eat breakfast before school, my wife threatened to wash his mouth out with soap, etc.

All those stories were exaggerated with a grain of truth: I had to restrain him when he got violent toward my wife and potentially the tiny mutts and the 3 year old; I set a timer on breakfast but they always had at least 20 minutes -- he was probably remembering me giving them 5 minute warnings; when my mother was in town my wife and her were talking about how both my wife and I got our mouths washed out with soap but times have changed and that's not acceptable anymore; etc.

I was annoyed with the investigation at first -- over two hours of wasted time! -- but then realized that if we were getting investigated then foster parents doing worse were getting their poo poo scanned with a magnifying glass, and that makes it worthwhile.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

This has been so loving painful I haven't been able to post it for a couple of weeks.

Our foster son has been returned to his mother (who is not ready to be a stable parent based on evidence we've seen in reports from the supervised visits) by an administrative decision without even an appearance in court by any of the parties.

This all happened so quickly and my wife and I are still alternating between shock and grief. I doubt we'll ever foster another child again. The reason we're unlikely to do it isn't the fact that he was reunified, something we knew from day one of training happens to 75% of kids in this state, but the hamfisted and cruel way it was done by the state agency that benefitted no one but the biomom's ego -- our foster son least of all.

I can't give any real details for the minute chance of someone inside the state agency recognizing them, but this recounting is factual and not sour grapes or grief or rewriting history. This sucks, that's all there is to say about it.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Thanks for the support!

K, you're absolutely right. We had to make that A+/D- cognitive shift quickly when we first heard this might happen. It wasn't about us being awesome people and parents, nor was it about any failures or shortcomings we had. The most frustrating thing, especially as he didn't have a CASA assigned, is that we had no voice and thus he had no voice (as his social worker was instructed to get on board with the decision made at a higher level). We may not be unbiased observers but no one (except his social worker) was saying, "OK, let's look at this supervised visit report from [date] where biomom showed reckless disregard for his safety by [permitting 3 year old to do something dangerous] and justified it with 'He's just a growing boy and I don't want to have to tell him no all the time when I see him.' ". And I don't mean helicopter parent-definition of reckless disregard like jumping off a bench to the ground, I mean vehicular traffic was involved.

Even though he's only three years old, it's apparent he's incredibly smart. One of the biggest things I grieve is the stronger possibility that he will now drop out of high school, not go to college, etc., wasting such amazing gifts and always feeling a little smaller because of that, having seen this happen with my stepson from my first marriage.

I find myself hoping that the biomom pulls herself together and quickly learns how to provide a stable, safe, and loving environment for him, or that she screws up in royal fashion during the next Health & Safety visit and he goes back into the system immediately before he's used to the idea that they will be back together forever. The worst case scenario I can think of for him is spending, e.g., a year with her, letting the cumulative impacts of minor emotional and physical neglect pile up while he rebonds with her and loses his love of life and his free self expression (which took a lot of work for his previous foster family and for us to pull out of his shell), only to go through the trauma of separation when she relapses/whatever and he's taken away from her again after believing this is forever.

I may be a bad man for wanting a specific one of these three scenarios to happen, but at least I'm not so bad that I would prefer he get eventually put back into the system rather than finding that right type of environment with his biomom. But it's so discouraging...he was with us for about a quarter of his life (and about half his 'conscious' life), and his biomom doesn't want any input from us -- I don't mean "Here's how you have to stop screwing up as a parent" but basic poo poo like "he loves dinosaurs, eating carrots & snap peas, and his three favorite books are..."

I just cut a couple of paragraphs of rambling so imma gonna stop now, but thanks for the words of support!

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

On mobile so not editing my post sorry not sorry, but want to especially thank you for:

Mocking Bird posted:

You are valuable and your love and care means something
Thanks. I mean

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

e: Glad to see things are moving so quickly! I got a bit wordy and missed your post. Consider my advice about a locking closet rather than a drawer, if possible for you. It makes things so much easier just because there's enough space to easily move things in and out.


Echoing everything K said. Each state has different rules though. E.g., in WA, liquid/gel medications also have to be kept in a different container than solid (pills/caplets). This also extends to the refrigerator, if you have both types that need to be refrigerated for some reason. Also, I don't think pet meds have to be separated by solidness but they have to be in a different container than human meds, so you could in theory have four locked cases in your closet plus four in your fridge (if there are solid meds that need refrigeration, but I can't think of any).

The easiest way to handle medicine, alcohol, lighters/matches, etc., is to find a linen closet or other small storage space and replace the handle with a locking knob, which will cost you $15? at the hardware store. If you have multiple doors to secure (e.g., woodworking tools in the garage), get a set of knobs that use the same key. They're sold in packs of 2 knobs usually, or you can also find 2 knobs and 2 deadbolts.

For cabinets (under the kitchen sink, laundry room, etc.), buy a set of padlocks that all use the same key. Then find pull handles that have rings, replace the existing pull handles on those cabinets, and lock the two rings with a padlock. Large cabinet where the grippable handles* are too far apart to lock easily? Get a 2" diameter ring from the hardware store, unscrew one handle, put the ring on it, screw the grippable handle back in, and padlock the ring to the other handle. (* I mean a handle attached by two screws so there's a "hole" in the middle to grasp, as opposed to a standard knob/handle.)

For now, just throw anything dangerous into the locked closet. (I hope they're not all louvered doors! Get a padlock and a tool storage chest/footlocker from the hardware store if you have to.) As it's an emergency placement, when your licensor gets around to the site visit, you'll get a list of things to fix; it's not like the kid will get yanked because you're not totally in compliance, unless you have your machete and grenade collection mounted on the wall within easy reach.

Also, make sure you have smoke detectors in all bedrooms, major hallways, utility room, garage, and kitchen. One carbon monoxide detector per floor, too. Even if not required, there's no excuse not to have them. Hot water should probably come out of the tap at no more than 120 degrees.

DISCLAIMER: All this is what my licensor in my state has accepted, not even sure it actually matches code but she signed off on it, this advice may be totally inapplicable to you.

When I get to a desktop I'll try to remember to upload a blank checklist for WA state, but you can probably find a "site visit assessment" form, or something similarly named, on the website for your state.

Just as I'm getting discouraged by my tragedy (I'm not sure if I'm being melodramatic or not), it embiggens my heart to see someone take this responsibility and privilege on when needed. I'm proud of you, for what that's worth!

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

I'm so happy that things are working out for you and him! Changing social workers happens relatively frequently but 3 in 60 days? Sure you're not driving them away? (Joke.)

I assumed that this was dependency court until your last sentence. Criminal court? Get a lawyer. Most DAs or judges would have compassion for a foundering teen who had made mistakes but then found a loving home, and would go easy on him. Emphasis: most.

If you go to trial, you risk him incurring criminal penalties up to and including incarceration. With a lawyer, assuming what he did wasn't too bad, you have a much better chance of a deal that doesn't involve much or any bad stuff happening to him -- and even with a sympathetic DA the deal will be much better for him if a lawyer's involved.

He needs to tell you everything about the situation too. Let him know that this was the past any you're not holding it against him, but (if it were me, and he were a late teen like 16-17) I would tell him, "I promise you this: I will help you however I can. But you have to know this: your side of the deal is you have to be completely honest with me about this if we're going to be living together."

Consider that civil restitution might have to be made (if he is a ward of the state, this will be the state's issue most likely) and that whatever he got arrested for was serious enough to be the reason he really got kicked out (if I'm remembering the story correctly from a couple of months ago; I may not).

But step one: get a lawyer.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

I'm so happy for you!

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

I do not wish to create joinder with your stank ass



Slippery Tilde

Sorry to reply so infrequently, but I'm still having a hard time checking this thread.

KL & MB --- Great news! MB, I'm sure that if you continue to provide a safe, loving environment, your teen will find her voice at the right time. Maybe, if it didn't seem unethical, in a month or two the social worker could prime the pump by saying, "I'm going to have to ask you soon whether you'd like to live here or another place. But don't worry, you wouldn't have to choose somewhere else for at least a month, and if you liked it here, you could tell me in a month, two weeks, or even today." Well, something less heavy handed than that, but something that lets her know she has a voice in the matter and her opinion is desired.

Paratan -- (Apologies if I'm getting some facts about your teen and family structure wrong, and this comes from experience with a biodaughter-- I.e., someone who didn't have to undergo a rapid shift in family living near this age) is this weight gain a good thing or a goon thing? If it's the former and it's the teen getting good, reliable nutrition, then make sure the doctor is aware of his weight gain and get an idea of a healthy upper limit, but it's probably a good thing overall.

If it's the latter, it's tough, you've probably got to be dad instead of older brother, at least to some degree. If he's buying junk food with allowance/job wages (I don't remember how old he was), there's not much you can do about it directly. Encouraging more activity by the whole family is about all you can do. If it's all coming out of the pantry at home, then everyone has to suffer as the supply of Cheez-Itz and Nutella goes to near zero, to be brought out intentionally as a treat once or twice a week -- for everyone. If they somehow magically disappear, none come home from the store the next week. The key thing is you and your partner will need to make the same sacrifices you expect of him.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply