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#1 of 36 Old 09-24-2011, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 7 month old nephew lived with us 4 days a week for a month and now we have full time physical custody (we were in the middle of a move when we got "the call"). 

 

My 19 year old sister is a drug and man addict, and doesn't realize it.  She doesn't want her baby, but she doesn't want anyone else to have him either.  She doesn't mind him living with us because he's "just visiting" or at least that's what she tells her friends. 

 

She's agreed to legal custody, but disagrees to the adoption option - at least right now.

 

I know that no matter how this plays out, it's going to be rough.  I just wish I had any idea of what step to take next.  I can't help but wonder if legal custody will HELP or HURT the cause if the day ever comes to fighting for adoption. 

 

And worse yet, how do you ever decide whether the birth mother has pulled it together enough to let the little one go back to what was clearly a neglectful-at-best situation?

 

Can anyone relate to the situation and offer some experiences, suggestions, etc?

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#2 of 36 Old 09-25-2011, 07:02 PM
 
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Is DCF involved or this being handled through Probate Court (or whatever the equivalent is where you are)? If DCF is involved and placing him with you, then they will be taking the lead in determining when/if the child should return to mom. If it is solely up to you and the courts are no longer involved (as with guardianship), again, depending on where you live, you may get very little guidance on this. Is there an agency that will supervise visits for you (independent, objective)? That sometimes takes a little bit of the pressure off of you to 'evaluate' how they are doing together.  If there is no one else involved, then she always has the option of going back to court and requesting he be returned to her legally. At least that is how it works here. It is  a tough spot!


 
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#3 of 36 Old 09-26-2011, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Unfortunately there are a lot of people that aren't involved that I wish were.

 

DCF didn't take her, she just has no interest in him other than to be able to call him her son (aka she says no to adoption).  When the grandma said she was leaving town, my sister told her to take my nephew with her. 

 

She's not called to check on him but once after we asked if she would agree to letting us adopt him, she doesn't want anything to do with him but doesn't want anyone else to "have" him. 

 

She's agreed to legal custody, but haven't started the process yet because she recently lost her job, then cheated on the boyfriend she was living with and got kicked out, now we're waiting to find out what's going on and where she is.  She keeps saying she's coming to our town to live with her mom, so we constantly feel like everything is up in the air.

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#4 of 36 Old 09-26-2011, 06:24 PM
 
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Hmm...I wonder if you should get DCF involved?  She has technically abandoned him at this point, right?  Whatever you do, get the advice of a good adoption attorney, and document, document, document, document every single phone call, visit, every interaction you, your husband, or the child have with her.

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#5 of 36 Old 09-26-2011, 06:38 PM
 
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It may be easier to get through the adoption if DCF is involved. There are hassles involved with adoption regardless, but having supervision if there are visits and guidance may help. They'll also help determine if the mother is even fit for the child to go back at some point. With infants, they lean towards earlier adoption because they'd prefer the baby to bond strongly and stay with a set of caregivers. (At least in our area.)


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#6 of 36 Old 09-26-2011, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When explaining my frustrations to a friend today (especially with still waiting for medical consent forms), they also brought up that it might be time to call DCF.  My husband and I talked about it a little and decided to try to contact her one more time (the only way we have - through facebook.  Sad!) and press the importance of us having medical consent forms especially now that we have no way to get in touch with her since she has a phone.

 

If she doesn't respond within the next couple of days, I think we're going to contact DCF - at the very least for some advice.  

 

Then I read this thread, and more DCF suggestions.  I've been strongly trying to avoid involving DCF because I felt like if I kept things amiable between us, she would agree to adoption easier.  

 

Doesn't adoption REQUIRE the consent of the parent?  I was a ward of the court throughout my life, but lived with my aunt... as a child I always felt like I didn't really belong, because I wasn't adopted.  I would hate for him to feel teh same way.

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#7 of 36 Old 09-27-2011, 05:50 AM
 
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It doesnt require consent if they terminate her rights. But there are only a few situations where they can involuntarily term. her rights, such as abuse, neglect, abandonment.

 

The risk is that if you contact them and they contact her, she could just come get the baby and unless they can prove she has an unsafe home you may be out of luck. It DOES sound like she is pretty unstable but from what i've seen kids usually come into care for something more significant (drugs found in the home, new baby born addicted, children left wandering, evidence of abuse) then its the instability that keeps the parents from completing "the plan" and the kids dont get sent home then are ultimately adopted.

 

You might want to find out what is required of you by the state in order to keep him as well. Last thing you'd want to happen, is that you get them involved and then discover that there is something about YOUR home they find would exclude you (im sure its fine...but there are things like prior legal issues--assault, that sort of thing...space requirements etc)...in some states you may be required to be a licensed foster parent.

 

I would talk to a lawyer who is experienced in this sort of thing before getting the state involved, personally, because once they are involved its very difficult to get them UNinvolved. They will likely try to reunify. That being said if you think she will ignore them too, it might make things go faster. It also just depends on where you live. Some areas, a few months with no contact, and they move to terminate, in others they give alot longer time and "chances."


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#8 of 36 Old 09-27-2011, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the thoughtful responses.  She contacted me today via facebook to say she'd get us the medical consent form signed (I emailed it to her), and that she's been considering adoption again, but she wants to 'be able to have her baby back when I'm older.'

 

I wanted to tell her so much that 1. her son has bonded with ME, not her, and 2. that he won't be a baby anymore.

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#9 of 36 Old 09-27-2011, 05:50 PM
 
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That is so hard, and the decision of whether or not to involve DCF is an especially tough one.  I second another person's advice to connect with an experienced attorney before involving DCF.  Also, if there are any reputable counseling/therapy places in your area, who know about kinship/foster/adoption and know about the state in your area, that would be well worth connecting with as well.  Such places are rare but do exist in some areas (there's a great one near us, thankfully!).

 

For us, the state had been involved but was quick to extricate itself once a suitable home was found for the children (my niece and nephew, by birth).  They hadn't been removed from care, DCF was just involved and threatening removal.   We then spent a year with the kids, during which their legal custodial parent (mom) asked us to parent them for another year.  With the guidance of our therapists, we told her yes with the agreement that we'd regroup in a year and make a permanent placement decision.  I think it was truly our skilled counselors who, at that meeting a year later, allowed their mom to make the decision to place for adoption.  It was so difficult for her, even though she knew it was the only thing that made sense.  Their dad took another 6+ months, and from when the decision was first made it was almost another year before the adoption was actually finalized. 

 

IF your sister truly doesn't care and conveys that to DCF, things can be a lot quicker.  On the other hand, in our state there's a legal presumption that always sides with the birth parent unless that person is unfit to parent.  We're not talking "best available parent," but "so bad that the kid would be in immediate danger."  For us, I'm very thankful that we didn't have DCF involvement and were able to work and work and work on tightening the relationships with both birth parents, eventually resulting in the adoption.  Of course, had the outcome be different, my heart would be in a million pieces and I'd probably be strongly questioning every one of our choices. 

 

So, like someone else said, document document document just in case you ever need it.  Seek some professional advice from the best available source(s) in your area.  Pray a lot if that's your thing. And then make the best decision you can. That's day-by-day decisions, even in the most heart-wrenching of moments.  Oh and one tip we did learn from our therapists was to always only talk about the needs of the children and not our own.  At one point, my husband and I were really needing some permanency.  We had to really set that need aside and look at the kids' needs.  Another reason that having the therapists was incredibly helpful. 

 

Bless you for caring so much for your little nephew.  My mom used to always tell me that no matter how it all ended up, our love could only be helpful to them in the long run and we had to keep believing that no matter what, love is never wasted. 


Married to DH since 2006.  Adoptive mom to DD1 (June 2002), DS (Jan 2006), and bio mom to DD2 (May 2009).

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#10 of 36 Old 09-28-2011, 07:22 AM
 
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I can see your sister's side a bit. In the old days, families would take in relatives who needed a temporary home while their parents got their act together.Now everyone's so quick to say that their rights should be terminated.

 

I'm a huge fan of open adoptions when it's safe and healthy for the child and parents. I've got an open adoption with my son's birth mother/grandmother/younger half-sister who lives with mom as well as his two sisters who were adopted by other families. I've just met my daughter's baby brothers and their foster/preadoptive parents. It looks like it might be possible to start occasional visits with DD's birth father (but not her birth month,) so I'm excited about the possibility. She doesn't know him but I think it's important for kids to have contact with their birth family, in some way, whenever possible.

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#11 of 36 Old 09-28-2011, 04:39 PM
 
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I don't think many parents want to give up rights, even if they're completely out of the picture. It would be a very hard thing to do, even for the parents that are on drugs and out of it. Back in the day, there wasn't as much of a need to have that legal custody or termination of rights. I'm sorry that you have to deal with this side of things. greensad.gif

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#12 of 36 Old 09-28-2011, 08:22 PM
 
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sending you some hugs I hope things work out for you and nephew. his mom sounds like she young and confused doesnt really know what she wants becuase she is so young. keep us updated.


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#13 of 36 Old 09-30-2011, 06:39 AM
 
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I have an adopted daughter who was my niece (well, sort of half niece).  Dealing with family has been very hard.  DCF knows how to deal with kinship adoptions and can be a great resource, but as others have said, it is also a mixed blessing.  My experience is that they have a zero tolerance for substance abuse, if they know she is using, they will come down harder on her than you ever could.  Sad, but that is useful. 

 

Good luck and I will follow this thread to see if I can help at all smile.gif

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#14 of 36 Old 10-01-2011, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for sharing your experience, Pumpkingirl.  

 

One thing I'm finding very difficult to deal with in this situation is her complete and utter lack of interest and reliability.  But then again, if she was interested and reliable, he wouldn't be here with us, I suppose.

 

In 2 months she's never so much as asked about him.  And on the few occasions when we've been able to get a response from her, she's happily agreed to send us medical release forms and sign the custody papers, but then we don't hear from her for weeks at a time again.   

 

Thankfully we were able to get his medical records transferred to a pediatrician which listed his grandmother as a co-caregiver, so we will be able to at least take him to the doctor to get his check ups.  We now have his medicaid and social security card.

 

Phew!  I guess we just need to sit back and be patient. 

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#15 of 36 Old 10-02-2011, 10:52 AM
 
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Practice your patience in a lawyer's waiting room. wink1.gif

 

I tend to agree that calling in social services MAY be a bad idea, but it MAY be necessary to present yourselves in a good light. In some places, social services would look very negatively on a relative who didn't report abandonment for months/years on end. In other places, they wouldn't care at all as long as the child has been safe, seen the doctor, etc. You need to speak to somebody who is an expert on YOUR social services people and can tell you how best to proceed. 

 

It may well be that your lawyer advises you just to "run out the clock" on abandonment. If your sister were to move out of state and nobody could (or would) contact her, then TPR could even be done in absentia. But that means living with uncertainty for a pretty long time, and it might mean that social services regards you as "part of the problem" when they do eventually become involved in your nephew's case. You really need a lawyer's help to formulate your strategy. 

 

Ultimately, in order to have the power to protect your nephew and raise him in a social-services-free environment, you need to adopt him or be named his permanent guardian. Once you have that status, allowing contact with your sister is obviously something you'd want to work toward, if she ever becomes stable. But your nephew's safety is Step One. 

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#16 of 36 Old 10-07-2011, 08:52 AM
 
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I havent read the rest of the replies, But we have a birth Mom like this who is a relative. She signed over legal guardianship to us. In order to get them back she would have to hire a lawyer and take us to court :) Not going to happen. Oh and she refused to give us the birth certificates because "she wants the kids back one day"/ I had to explain to her that they are not like car titles LOL.

 


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#17 of 36 Old 10-07-2011, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Apparently there are Kinship Care resources here in Florida, because it's such a common thing.  I spoke with 3 different organizations, and they all suggested the same thing.  Apply for monetary benefits, which goes through DCF.  

 

So everyone suggested that.  One lady advised I call this organization that handles foster care, adoptions, etc to get help with the medical aspect of it.  They said I needed to call DCF and explain that I need "Relative Caregiver Assistance" which starts a case, without simply reporting her for abandonment.  Once they start a case, the organization can help me get emergency medical rights. 

 

One individual also stated that I should be able to go to the Health Department to get his Vaccinations (He has none, but state law requires that any child under the age of 5 within the system have all vaccinations, so not vaccinating is not an option, otherwise he may end up in foster care and vaccinated anyway.).

 

Phew!

 

MommyKelly.... what is your relationship to the birth mother of your child.  Did you have a transition period of not knowing what was going to happen, and if so, how did you handle it?  And were you 'mom' then, or did you refer to yourself by the original relation to your child?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by IzzyTheTerrible View Post

 

 

MommyKelly.... what is your relationship to the birth mother of your child.  Did you have a transition period of not knowing what was going to happen, and if so, how did you handle it?  And were you 'mom' then, or did you refer to yourself by the original relation to your child?


 

I have 2 different kinship cases sadly. One came through foster care though. In both cases the birth moms are my cousins. DISTANT cousins. Like I hadn't seen them in years, and I had never meet or seen the kids. And both were out of state. Luckily kinship trumps all so we got dd from foster care, and the other 2 were suppose to be going into the system, but they let Mom sign over her rights to us instead.

 

Ask how much relative care is before you start jumping through their hoops. My state is like $.30 a day LOL

 


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#19 of 36 Old 10-10-2011, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So our lives definitely changed in our lives over this weekend.

 

We really upped the pressure on the mom 2 weeks ago.  All but begging she get us some medical paperwork, and she never did get around to it.  None of have heard from her in 10 days (she's still alive and posting partying type comments on facebook).

 

Anyway, over the weekend poor little one started getting fussy during the day and being generally miserable.  Saturday he slept 4 times, which is unheard of for him!

 

Concerned because we can't take him to the doctor and don't know why he's feeling uncomfortable,  we decided that we can't play this game anymore and called DCF this morning.  By this afternoon, we'd had our interview and homestudy done, she had the custody paperwork complete and a hearing scheduled for tomorrow morning to get a signature from the judge.

 

Since the mother is no where to be found, tomorrow we will be getting emergency custody, then once all the normal stuff happens (attempt to locate the mother, etc), we'll get temporary custody for 12 months.  She has 12 months to get her act together, and if she doesn't he'll be placed with us for longterm custody or adoption.  She said she's rarely seen a mother in this type of situation that has managed to get her act together or even be interested enough to take her child back.

 

I know this sounds weird but what the heck should we refer to him as now?  "Nephew that we're caring for" has ben too complicated.  Maybe foster son, since technically we can't adopt him for 12 months at least?   But it's not actually foster...

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#20 of 36 Old 10-10-2011, 03:05 PM
 
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I'd just refer to him as your nephew. People who need to know will already know the situation.

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#21 of 36 Old 10-10-2011, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your suggestion, but we're trying to get away from "nephew."   People that know the situation also know his name, so we don't refer to him as anything but by his name... it's people we DONT know.

 

DCF has been protecting children for a long time, so I'm pretty sure they have reasons for wanting to terminate parental rights when they deem it to be in the best interest of the child.    If she wanted him, checked on him, wanted anything to do with him, and was just down on her luck, this would be an entirely different situation....  '

 

... but then again, we wouldn't have had to call DCF because I've been begging for a medical consent paper so I could take him to the doctor.   I appreciate your position, but I don't feel it's applicable to the situation, and probably very few situations these days.

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#22 of 36 Old 10-10-2011, 07:03 PM
 
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The thing is, Izzy, that despite birth mom's current state, within 12 months she could turn things around, or 'just enough' to impress a judge that she has turned things around (even if she hasn't). Many many kinship placements struggle with this very thing, even with DCF involvement. It does leave the child in limbo, sadly. But to move forward on a different sort of naming will make things that much harder if the situation shifts out of your favor in a year.

 

AND congratulations on shaking up the system and getting what you needed right now!!


 
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#23 of 36 Old 10-10-2011, 07:23 PM
 
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Anything can happen. She could not do anything for a while and then start working a plan and things could go past 12 months. Sometimes way past. Sometimes, not. A child needs to be with his mother if at all possible. I would think you'd want her to pull things together and do what it takes to get her child back. And social workers tell you what they "think" is likely to happen. And they're right much of the time. But, not always and you need to be prepared for that.

 

For most people, referring to him as your nephew is fine. Some people will need to know that you have custody of him. If you have other children, he will likely call you whatever they do. My DD called me Mama (then Mommy) because DS did. It didn't change the fact that she was still my foster child.

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#24 of 36 Old 10-10-2011, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are prepared for all the different possibilities.


I can quite honestlu say we are not th least bit eager to reunits him wih someone that did drugs in the house with him, never took him t the doctor , doesnt want him in any way....

Thankfully DCF can decide what is best for him and we can want him to be with us all we want. It wuld take her moving mountains for him for me to believe she cares.
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#25 of 36 Old 10-11-2011, 09:32 AM
 
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I have seen plenty of birth parents turn themselves around enough to get custody back. Please remember their main goal is to reunite birth mothers with their children. The bar isnt as high as you would hope. 2 of my kiddos always called me Mom, one took a few weeks but she was 5 when we got her. She asked one day if she could call me Mom :)

We refer to birth Moms, as "Mommy so and so" . Whats funny is the kids refer to their birth mom by their 1st name only , I am the one that calls them Mommy so and so LOL. 


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#26 of 36 Old 10-11-2011, 05:39 PM
 
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Izzy, I'm sure this is so incredibly difficult. He is your relative, your flesh and blood. It is hard to watch someone neglect their child, especially when you loved him before he even lived with you. I hope things work out so that everyone can be safe and whole in the end.


 
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#27 of 36 Old 10-12-2011, 06:03 AM
 
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What was it that you wanted us to say? That it's ok to refer to him as your child? Anything can happen. I'm sure it's a tough situation but my DS's mom is proof that you can become a parent after not being one.
 

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We are prepared for all the different possibilities.
I can quite honestlu say we are not th least bit eager to reunits him wih someone that did drugs in the house with him, never took him t the doctor , doesnt want him in any way....
Thankfully DCF can decide what is best for him and we can want him to be with us all we want. It wuld take her moving mountains for him for me to believe she cares.


 

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#28 of 36 Old 10-12-2011, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Izzy, I'm sure this is so incredibly difficult. He is your relative, your flesh and blood. It is hard to watch someone neglect their child, especially when you loved him before he even lived with you. I hope things work out so that everyone can be safe and whole in the end.

 

Thank you. :)

 

I'm going to just keep faith that things will work out as they are supposed to.  The mother resurfaced and announced that she won't be trying to get him back.  It breaks my heart that shes not interested in fighting for him, he deserves to be fought for.

 

And Polliwog, I'm a bit confused by your question.  DCF, our family and the sheriff have already suggested we move to mom/dad/son naming, because the mother has announced that she is not interested in him in any way other than being able to see him if she changes her mind in the future.  

 

I was just more or curious of opinions.   

 

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#29 of 36 Old 10-12-2011, 12:37 PM
 
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If I might interpret Polliwog (having known her here for a while) I think she was wondering if you were looking for members to simply agree without questioning, the speed at which you were moving toward permanency with the naming, when in fact, the situation was far from resolved (prior to birth mom's recent statement).

 

Now that his birth mom is resolving this for you by stating that she will not be pursuing him, it seems as though your legal options are much clearer. DCF will be able to help you move toward permanency and you will be able to arrange for more permanent integration of your nephew into your family.

 

On this forum, the moms and dads who post are sensitive to all parts of the adoption/foster triad, so that is why you will get some members asking questions if things appear to be moving too fast and/or foster/adoptive parents seem to be dismissive of the perspective of the birth mom and dad. Members here also know first hand how tangled and complicated even the most simple-appearing placement can get over time. They have lived it in their homes. So I appreciate that you have hung in on this thread, hearing from everyone. A lot of folks have learned a ton from the parents on this subforum. Thanks for being here!


 
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#30 of 36 Old 10-12-2011, 06:07 PM
 
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That's basically what I meant but really, unless she relinquishes her rights, she has the right to change her mind or put some wrinkles in the mix. She could say that she won't pursue getting him back one day and change her mind in a few weeks. I've been fostering for a long time and posting/lurking on a foster parent message board for over six years. I've also spent many days in family court listening to other cases. I've heard all kinds of stories. If I were you, I'd look at the situation as temporary unless you have concrete reasons to believe otherwise. That doesn't mean that you interact with the child any differently. Just guard your heart a little and don't present him to the world as your son.

 

 

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