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Would like some insight/help/support on making this decision

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hello. I apologize in advance because this is probably going to be a long post, and I thank you if you take the time to read it.

Here is some background to the situation:

I am a single mama to a wonderful 3-year-old dd. Her father is mostly out of the picture, he is struggling with severe alcoholism and a host of other issues. DD has an older half-sister, S, who is almost 13. S lived most of her life with dad and bi-polar grandma; dad was functioning at the time. Five years ago, social services became involved for the first time when grandma left her alone to go gambling. S then lived with me for two years -- starting with me and dad when he was functioning, then with just me when dad ran into serious mental/emotional trouble. Around the time my dd was born, dad was in jail for a DUI, and S's mom was ignoring the situation, I allowed social services to place S in care for a long list of reasons. Within a few months, dad pulled himself together enough to follow his plan, and S was reunited with dad and grandma.

The following summer, dad declined again, grandma lost the house over her compulsive gambling, and S's mom decided to re-enter the picture, pulled S from them, and went to court to gain full custody. Since then, I've established somewhat of a relationship with mom, and maintained a relationship with S.

Mom has always struggled with S. S has issues with lying, stealing, maintaining relationships, extreme neediness for attention, anger, and creating drama. When she was in care the last time, her anger caused a couple of incidents with other children in the home. She has an intense need for people to feel sorry for her as well. All of this was exacerbated shortly after she moved in with mom when S was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

Cut to now, two years later. The issues between mom and S have reached breaking point. Mom cannot handle parenting in a way that interferes with her own life and needs, and S needs that kind of parenting. Since diagnosis, S has been expected to be self-sufficient with her diabetes... mom feels like S is holding her hostage with her diabetes (mom's words). So, whenever S is feeling especially desperate for attention, she will stop taking her insulin. On Tuesday she was hospitalized for the fourth time in DKA.

Social Services has finally intervened at this point, really with mom's blessing -- mom had NO interest in taking S home from the hospital. The county has taken custody of S. It is a different county than last time, a different county than the one I live in.

The intake caseworker called me last night to discuss the possibility of my taking her. Right now, I am the only viable "kinship" option the county is looking at -- she will either come to me or go to a new foster home. Although she is medically cleared, she can stay in the hospital until Wednesday and allow the county time to figure out what they are going to do with her. The Shelter hearing is on Tuesday. S also called me last night from the hospital and asked if she could come live with me.

The county does not want me to make a decision this weekend -- they don't really want to know for sure until after the hearing on Tuesday. They do have a viable foster home option that could take her on Wednesday.

I love S. I want the best for her. But this is a HUGE decision for me. Her mom is supportive of either decision I make, and willing to both provide things S needs and leave us alone if I do take her. With dad and grandma, I'd probably have to change my phone number to keep from being continually harassed. They both called here last night to try to get me to help them handle the situation. They'll leave everything alone and descend into their, um, lifestyle if they think other people are "taking care" of the girls -- really S, they've never really been involved with my dd... but have plans on attending court on Tuesday and asking for "their" own plan (gma and dad are quite co-dependent). They would definitely try to become much more involved in my life than they have been, and they are NOT healthy.

Also, I'm a single mom. I work full-time as a teacher. I have had a LOT on my plate emotionally for the last five years. During all of this time, I also lost my mom to lung cancer. I am finally getting to a place where my life is something other than constant drama. My life with my dd is calm and stable. Dd doesn't even really know her dad, and has never been involved with any of this.


S would require near-constant supervision, a trained adult to administer all of her insulin (she will not be allowed to do any part of the process herself), and supervise her blood glucose monitoring. She will also need intense therapy for quite some time. She still struggles with lying, telling people what she thinks they want to hear, saying things to create drama, and an INTENSE need for constant attention. She is also jealous of my relationship with my dd, although she loves her little sister. She has never had good modeling of sibling relationships -- she does have two older half-brothers from mom and lots of horrible sibling interaction experiences to draw from. One of her brothers was teaching her about pot and the proper use of a condom when she was 7.

I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to take her and bring her home now. I do love her. The other part of me is not sure if my life can handle this level of drama, or if I can do this to my dd. We live in a 2-bedroom townhouse with an unfinished basement. DD sleeps in my room with me, but the other room is "her" room, with a bed and bedroom furniture, and her clothes and toys.... I don't want to displace DD...

Anyway, that's long enough. Any insight?
post #2 of 4
I think that you have largely answered your own questions here. You are just not in a place right now to take her full time, for a variety of reasons. However, I don't believe it means it has to be all or nothing. I would ask the SW for visitation though, and go through the steps so that you could have once a week or every other week visits (maybe over night, maybe just hanging out and dinner, ect.) or whatever you can get. That way you keep in touch, you're still able to offer her your tangible love. Maybe in the future, you never know how circumstances might change, esp. if she gets more self-reliant. But it sounds like you think that you wouldn't be able to truly do right by her as far as offering the level of attention and care she needs while still keeping yourself healthy--I would honor your instincts in that. But do fight to maintain your bond!
post #3 of 4
What Tigerchild said. I would add, perhaps you could explain to the social worker EXACTLY why you are not able to parent her at this time, and that you may be open to taking S in the future if she can gain some emotional stability in a nurturing foster home and develop a reasonable level of self-care with the diabetes. Regardless of whether you ever do decide to take her in, it can be nothing but good for her to continue to have you in her life and to have regular visits with her little sister.
post #4 of 4
I agree with the others. My biggest concern is for your little one. Who knows what big sister could do to her. Your first responsibility is to keeping your little girl safe.
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