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#1 of 42 Old 07-19-2012, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have no idea what forum I should post this in...if it needs to be moved, please do so.

 

My 12 yo DD has had a very good friend for going on two years now. We have recently moved about 45 minutes away, and her friend has come with us. There has been no formal arrangement made, but when we lived in our previous city, this little one was at our house every weekend, and often slept over during the week as well. Friend has some behaviour issues. Basically, she is rough around the edges. She's not been taught how to properly behave. She is often in trouble at school, and most of the neighbourhood mothers have told me to get my daughter to avoid her. This has vastly improved over the past year, though.

 

A little background on her mom - she has three children, ages 13, 11 and 7, and is pregnant now, due in December. She lost a daughter to SIDS three years ago (not sure if that's relevant, but you'll see why I mention it). Until her recent pregnancy, she was rarely home. She was always "working". She worked at a bar downtown, but it often seemed as though she'd be gone for days at a time, leaving her then 12 yo in charge of her younger two. The 12 yo would cook, clean, make sure everyone got to school, etc. Many times, I would look outside and see all three children roaming the streets late at night, after dark on school nights, long after my own children had been bathed and put to bed. All three of them come to my house when they need a band aid, or if they have any type of minor medical issue (splinter, earring rip, scrape from falling).  The older two girls regularly smell of BO, and wear dirty clothes that are clearly too small. We do what we can with hand me downs, etc. I pretend to buy extra sticks of deodorant, or have told them that I don't like the scent of a particular deodorant, and they gladly take them home.  There is no way around it - mom is neglecting these girls. I do not think that they are in DANGER, per se, but they can definitely use a lot of help.

 

One day, I see mom on the street in front of my house and I invite her in to talk. I needed to address something Friend did the week previous that had me concerned. I was sure to be non hostile and calm. She opened up to me. She cried, told me that she hasn't been the same since she lost her daughter, she knows she isn't a good mother, but is doing better, and knows she has dropped the ball. I tell her that when you know better, you do better, and not to beat herself up over the past. She is changing and the future is all that matters. I think, great...she's getting her shit together, and I expect to see great improvements.

 

 

 

Several weeks pass. I learn that mom has left her older two alone for the weekend without groceries. My daughter came home and told me that the girls had not eaten all day. I called Friend and her older sister over (they were playing outside across the street), and she confirms that this is the case. My husband and I ordered a pizza to their house, and gave them some fruit to eat until the pizza arrived (this was at 9pm on the Saturday and the girls had not eaten in more than 24 hours).  According to my daughter, this was happening more and more frequently. The mom was the little one with her for the weekend and leaving the other two to their own devices.

 

The week after the pizza, DD's friend was sent to my house on two separate occasions to ask me for food. Both times, I did them up a care package, and one of the times I gave Friend $20 to give to her mom. Then I learn that mom is going to Jamaica, and is leaving the older two home alone for the week. I called the Mom and offered for the girls to stay with us. She has this strangely pleasant conversation with me, and I try to be friendly and polite so that she'll agree to let the girls stay, so that I can keep them out of harm's way. She tells me in the context of this conversation that she's been under a lot of stress, and that her girlfriends have paid for her trip because she needs to get away for a while.  She agrees to let Friend stay with me, but the 13 yo will be home, as that is what 13 year old wants. I ask her to let 13 yo know that if she gets lonely, to please come to our place.

 

Later, I learn that the mom has paid for the trip with her child tax credit (monthly allowance that many Canadians get if they earn under 50k per year, to help them care for their children). So...while she is eating our food, and leaving her children without the necessities of life, she spends THEIR money to go and take a Carribbean vacation. UGH.

 

 

AAAnyway...The week before school lets out, we move here. I ask if Friend can come with us for the weekend. Her mother agrees to meet us halfway on the Sunday night to pick up Friend, as her 6th grade graduation is the next day. Sunday night rolls around, and her mom says she can't come to meet me until about midnight, as she is getting her other daughter's hair braided and it will still take several hours. I tell her mother that I am not willing to bring her back at that time, and that I will keep her overnight, and we will touch base some time on the Monday. Mom agrees. I hear nothing from her. 

 

I have now had Friend at my house for 28 days. Not once has Mom called me. Friend has called both her mom and her dad a time or two, but not once have either of them attempted to contact me. I refuse to call her for a few reasons. One, because she agreed to call me for a return the next day, and still hasn't. Two, because I honestly think Friend is better off here, and Friend has expressed to me several times that she wants to stay. She says she feels "safe" here.

 

 

I would REALLY like to keep CAS out of this. I am terrified of being the reason that these sisters are permanently separated. I just want to keep this one close for now. In an ideal situation, we would take all three, but we have neither the room, nor the resources to do so. I can, however, offer Friend a soft place to land for the time being. We have grown over the past couple of years to really care for her.

 

DH and I have had several conversations about this. We both think it's in Friend's best interest to stay with us, at least for the time being, and enrol in our local school.  Here is the thing - how do I approach the mother about this? How do you ask someone if you can have their child? How can I make it seem like I am doing her a favour, and helping her by giving her a break during a hard time? I do not wish to gain monetarily in any way - even though a social worker friend has said that we are already in a position of entitlement to Friend and ample monetary resources. We don't want or need this - but we do need mom's approval to enrol her in school, and to obtain medical advice for her as well.

 

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. I hope I have been eloquent enough to convey our situation. Ask any questions you'd like for clarity. I could really just use some words to fill me with courage and insight on how to proceed from here...

 

Thanks.


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#2 of 42 Old 07-19-2012, 01:08 PM
 
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I don't think yoou *can* keep CAS out of this.

The current situation is:
One child has been functionally abandoned with you, 45 minutes from home. No contact with her mom for nearly a month.
Two additional children are being left to roam your old neighborhood, neglected and frequently unfed.

You can help one kid. Some. If you do not contact child services, you're leaving those other two in a horrible spot.

I'm in the US, and child services works pretty hard to either keep siblings together, or arrange that they can visit each other on a regular basis. It doesn't sound like this mom is making that effort.

I assume that you've been making regular efforts to contact this mother. If I were you, I would write out a list of every attempt at contact. Then I'd sit down with dd's friend and explain that, because you are concerned about her, her mom, and her sisters, you need to call in the authorities. If the mom has been totally incommunicado and no one has seen her, I might start with the standard issue cops, and inquiries about a potentially missing person. Otherwise, I would start with cops and say that you think you might be dealing with a case of child abandonment. Make it clear that you have known the family for years, and the child currently in your home is welcome to stay with you, however, there are two other children who are likely to be badly in need of help.

EDIT: I see that you actually have NOT been contacting this girl's mom.

I cannot find words to tell you how incredibly, hugely not okay that is. It will cause any official who reviews the case to seriously doubt that you have been acting in the best interests of this child, and question whether you are capable of doing so. It's going to look to them like you reported this kid abandoned or her mother missing because you were just in too much of a snit to pick up the phone. It's going to make it much harder for you to be involved in any help offered the family. I do not, however, think that makes it in any way okay for you not to bring the governmental attempt at a social safety net into play in this case.

You must call this child's mother. Yourself. Now. If you don't get through, call her father. And then, IMO, you need to drive to your old neighborhood and check on the house and the other kids. AND THEN, depending on what you find there, you need to call the police.
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#3 of 42 Old 07-19-2012, 01:54 PM
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ITA with MeepyCat.  If you want to do good things for this child and her family, you need to contact her mom, and you need to contact the authorities, especially as your ability to do anything for the other two children in this situation is quite limited. 
 

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#4 of 42 Old 07-19-2012, 07:52 PM
 
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I'm in agreement with the previous posters. The only ethical thing to do here is contact the mother & contact the authorities.

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#5 of 42 Old 07-19-2012, 09:13 PM
 
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Wow, yes, call the mom.

I do think you are awesome and caring (your DH, too -- mine gets irritated when the neighbor girl is here for more than a day or two in a row). But I worry that if you just keep her, for any longer, without contacting mom and/or child protection, etc., that things could go even more badly than if you do it now. I can't imagine not contacting the mom after 24 hrs... Even with the history, almost a month is crazy. It's not fair to the kid.

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#6 of 42 Old 07-19-2012, 11:52 PM
 
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You are risking the safety of your entire family by refusing to contact the parents yourself.  Keeping a child without the parent's permission for 45 days, in a passive-aggressive manner?  You are asking for trouble.  You might believe that the instability of the mother protects you, but in a way it increases the risk.  What will you do if she goes to the cops and says "OMG these people took my kid and didn't bring her back?"  She won't look great either, but neither will you.

 

I would not open up a conversation with an unstable parent whom you've refused to initiate contact with for over a month due to your disapproval and hoping you could just keep the kid by saying "Hey, can I register your kid at the school here and by the way I'd like to to sign a power of attorney while you're at it."  You can't do this by phone.  I think you'd better get yourself AND THE CHILD physically back to her home, so that you can get any PoA in writing, and so that you can document the conversation.  This is not to reward the mother, but to cover your ass.  But even if you have a PoA you will not be able to register the child for school (I hope).  That's going to require the mother and/or father to cooperate and act.  If you want guardianship, that by definition involves the courts and lawyers.  No way around that.  Period.  It may or may not involve getting protective services involved (doesn't have to necessarily) but you can't just passively ignore the situation and not contact the parents;  and they can't just say "sure" and have you have the right to make decisions for the child.  It's going to require action on both your parts.  If you're serious about this, you'd better get cracking.  It's irresponsible to have a kid 45 minutes away and with you incommunicado with the parents, when you have no power of attorney at the minimum!  Please rectify this immediately.  Sometimes it sucks to have to be the adult, esp. when you're dealing with a flaky person, but for the safety of your family you're just going to have to hold your nose and pick of the phone, call her, and get in your car with the kid and drive her back to get your paperwork.  Otherwise you're at huge risk for having the police and/or CAS at YOUR door investigating *you*!
 

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#7 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 05:59 AM
 
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Wait - why are you jumping on OP - the girl has called her mother - her mother obviously knows where she is but hasn't reached out to OP.  OP is under no obligation at this point to contact the mother.  If you want custody though - how about just picking up the phone and saying since she's here and it feels like the mom wants her to continue to stay there, that you need to talk to her about getting legal custody so you can enroll her in school and be able to care for her in case of an emergency.  Something tells me the Mom will sign off on it with no issues.

 

Kudos to you for taking this poor child into your home.  Hopefully, spending time with your family will allow her to heal and grow.


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#8 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 06:06 AM
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If someone else's child is in my house for a month, I feel pretty strongly that I have an obligation to make contact on a regular basis. Obviously, in an ideal world the child's parents would feel obligated to contact me, but it's not ok to agree that a child will be returned home on a specific day and then wait three weeks to call because the other mom was supposed to call you.
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#9 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 07:57 AM
 
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Wait - why are you jumping on OP - the girl has called her mother - her mother obviously knows where she is but hasn't reached out to OP.  OP is under no obligation at this point to contact the mother. p>


BS. The child is a minor. The OP is an adult and legally responsible for what goes on in her home. Refusing to contact the child's parent and set up the proper protections (such as temporary power of attorney or acknowledgement by the parent that they know where their child for the new period of time) because they think the (irresponsible, habitually flaky) other adult should do so first is a really stupid course of action that primarily endangers the OP and her family and is easily rectified by stopping the game of chicken and just doing it to protect the child and the OP family.

OP I hope you take care of business. Regardless of your feelings, please don't delay. Sucks to have to do things that someone else should be proactive about, but that's life. As much as you'd like to ignore things to keep the status quo, I know that you know that isn't possible. If the mother refuses contact you need to go down there physically. If things are as bad as you say and still are I hope you will consider filing a report on behalf of the other kids.
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#10 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 08:20 AM
 
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She went on a vacation to a different country and left 11 & 13 year olds home alone? That's crazy. Like way, way beyond suffering the loss of a child crazy. Who goes thousands of miles away without leaving a child with an adult- and emergency money, and a full fridge, ect.

I understand not feeling like you are a good parent after losing a child, but that is outright neglect. Not okay, I'd call CAS asap.


Also, I just wanted to share with you the fact that both my sister and my SIL had friends move in with them when they were about the same age (all the people in my family, including myself, seek out people that are in terrible situations and want to fix them. Its not a great habit.) As soon as the mom was willing to say that their child could stay, all of the sudden the girls didnt want the arrangement anymore...I'd be careful with trying to think that she is going to stay forever. But call her mom, today.

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#11 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 08:41 AM
 
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I'm jumping on the OP for not calling for a bunch of reasons, some of which I've already touched on.

If I am not in touch regarding my kids, it's because I'm incapacitated. When I say that, people typically envision incapacitated as "dead in a ditch," but that's not the only kind of incapacity. Maybe this mom is mentally ill, or losing ground to an addiction, or in an abusive relationship. An adult should call her.

It's unkind and unfair to a child to ask her to be the responsible person about whether her mom comes and gets her or not, but that is exactly what the OP has done to the kid visiting her house. An adult should call.

It is not possible to arrange what the OP says she wants without speaking to this kid's mom. An adult should call her.

When children are involved, responsible adults need to behave in those children's best interests, including making up for certain shortcomings in other involved adults, like this kid's parents. There is especially no excuse for failing to do this when the shortcoming is a failure to make a phone call.


And I do not believe that this mom is likely to sign over custody as easily as all that. She'd lose some of her benefits if she did. Even if the money doesn't matter to her, the kid's father would also have to consent. They might dig in their heels out of outrage that anyone would think removing their child from their care was a good idea. Or just because the legal procedures are a pain.

If the first call I got from someone my child had been on an informal extended visit to was a request for custody, i'd hit the roof.
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#12 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So sorry that you all feel the need to jump on me. I do not feel "irresponsible" or "stupid". Well, I do a little, now, due to the feedback I've received. I do not think that eloquence is my strong suit, and perhaps you've misinterpreted some of the things I've said - I'm not sure. But in my daily life, friends and family don't feel that we've done anything wrong here. I was sort of looking for uninvolved and possibly experienced words of wisdom, and well, I guess I got them.

 

MeepyCat: I fail to see how my not contacting the mother myself would make it appear to authorities that I was incapable of caring for the child, or how it would make them question my interests. What on earth would be my motive for having a child in my home that isn't mine, other than having her best interest at heart? I don't get this at all.

 

I am not holding this woman's daughter hostage. She knows where her child is. She has three contact phone numbers for us. I feel badly that I am not in a position to help the other two girls. I am mulling that over in my head frequently. Guilt, but as I said before, as a first hand observer,  I do not feel that they are in imminent danger. If I thought they were, of course I would call it in. The 13 year old is definitely neglected in my opinion, but it is perfectly legal to leave a 13 year old home alone for the weekend. I would have to prove that they didn't have ample food. I worry about her mother severing contact with us if I report them to the authorities, because with the information I will have to provide for CAS to get a clear picture, there will be no question in the mother's mind that I called. I am pretty sure that if CAS called and scheduled a visit, which they do, the mom could paint a beautiful picture of domestic harmony. She isn't stupid. Then, not only would CAS do nothing to help the kids, but we would no longer be trusted to have Friend here, even for a visit, or for check ins. I am trying to weigh the pros and cons, and trying to figure out what is the best course of action.

 

ETA: something I didn't mention - When my daughter was in kindergarten and first grade, we had a similar situation, as in the little girl was at our house more often than she was at home. The kid was also always dirty, her clothes were dirty and too small, their house was a pigsty. There were no sheets on the bed.  The little girl told me one day that her uncle was sexually touching her. She described it in great detail. I called CAS. They went in to the home, believed the mother, and the mother screamed at me on the school playground, and we were never allowed to talk to or see her again. We saw her at school, and she always looked sad and dirty. I guess I have a very unpleasant picture of what CAS can do.

 

FWIW, I do not feel at all that I am being unfair to the child. I ask her frequently whether she'd like to return home, and offer her the option of coming back when she wants to. She has spoken to both her mother and father a few times since she's been here. I mentioned that in my initial post. Friend does not WANT to go home. When I ask if she misses her sisters or parents, she says either "not really" or "sort of but not a lot".

 

Her mother actually contacted me this morning, coincidentally. She is acting as if nothing's happened. She asked how things were going and said (after talking to her daughter) that she sounds happy, and that she's sorry she hasn't called, but knows that she is safe with me. I did ask why she hadn't called to talk to me, and she started talking in circles about cell phone bills and not knowing which number was my home phone and which was my daughter's phone, etc. Baloney. She knew exactly whose phone is whose, and she chose to call on my daughters phone in an attempt to avoid talking to me. I told her that I assumed it was fine for her to be here, as I knew that she had spoken to her daughter a few times via my daughter's cell phone. I didn't know what else to say without causing conflict, and basically made small talk. No arrangements were made for her to leave here. I told the mom that she hasn't made any noises about coming home, and that we're happy having her here. She seemed to be disinterested in setting up a return time or date, and said she'd touch base later in the week. 

 

I think I would like to call CAS, but  to get a feel for what they can do, or what to do next. As I mentioned, a friend of DH's is a social worker, and I would like to receive more guidance from him about this as well. I am now feeling like an asshole after trying to explain myself, and all of my words sound empty, like excuses. I am worried. I want to protect and help. I am sad that all of you have decided that I am in the wrong, but I guess if it's making me question how I'm handling it, I should be grateful.


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#13 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 09:10 AM
 
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I'm jumping on the OP for not calling for a bunch of reasons, some of which I've already touched on.
If I am not in touch regarding my kids, it's because I'm incapacitated. When I say that, people typically envision incapacitated as "dead in a ditch," but that's not the only kind of incapacity. Maybe this mom is mentally ill, or losing ground to an addiction, or in an abusive relationship. An adult should call her.
It's unkind and unfair to a child to ask her to be the responsible person about whether her mom comes and gets her or not, but that is exactly what the OP has done to the kid visiting her house. An adult should call.
It is not possible to arrange what the OP says she wants without speaking to this kid's mom. An adult should call her.
When children are involved, responsible adults need to behave in those children's best interests, including making up for certain shortcomings in other involved adults, like this kid's parents. There is especially no excuse for failing to do this when the shortcoming is a failure to make a phone call.
And I do not believe that this mom is likely to sign over custody as easily as all that. She'd lose some of her benefits if she did. Even if the money doesn't matter to her, the kid's father would also have to consent. They might dig in their heels out of outrage that anyone would think removing their child from their care was a good idea. Or just because the legal procedures are a pain.
If the first call I got from someone my child had been on an informal extended visit to was a request for custody, i'd hit the roof.

 

She had clearly stated that she had previous conversations with this woman - at some point, she needs to focus on the kids and no where this sorry excuse for a mother is.   She obviously doesn't give a rat's behind about her kid - why would she hit the roof?  

 

I get that you are all coming at this from a place of being good parents.  It's hard to imagine not loving your child enough to provide proper supervision, food, love and shelter but that is exactly what this woman has done... repeatedly.  Whether it's due to a mental health issue or an addiction issue or she's just a narcissist, it doesn't matter.  What matters is this child and the primary concern is not that her Mom gets a phone call but that the OP is legally allowed to care for the child in all respects.


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#14 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 10:30 AM
 
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MeepyCat: I fail to see how my not contacting the mother myself would make it appear to authorities that I was incapable of caring for the child, or how it would make them question my interests. What on earth would be my motive for having a child in my home that isn't mine, other than having her best interest at heart? I don't get this at all.

 

 

I am not MeepyCat, but having been involved in foster care and corrections, I will tell you what authorities may suspect (and may have to investigate if Asshat Parent were to decide to make something up about you):  sexual abuse (people can and do farm their children out for sexual purposes), non-sexual human trafficking/slave labor (it happens), child-selling (that happens too).  You can't rely on her word.  If the child stays with you once school starts and she is not attending and enrolled in school the danger escalates.  The mother may not care, but presumably the child is enrolled in school.  When she doesn't show up, the school will call the parent.  And then what happens when the parent says, "I dunno, I gave her to a friend and haven't seen her for awhile?"  You will be investigated right along with her.  You don't get a pass just because you're not the parent and you're just a kind friend.  Lots of the bad guys say they are that too.  Authorities can't just take your word for it, they must investigate.

 

We all know that you are doing none of those things--but I will be blunt:  being investigated for any of that would be immensely stressful and destructive to every one in the family.

 

It's great that she phoned you, but if I were you I would proactively ask for more.  In writing.  You can make your offer of a longer term stay but that MUST have some kind of PoA involved and the mother needs to register her child at the new school and name you as emergency/pickup contact (but please realize you will still have no right to and the the school will be barred from discussing anything academic or whatever with you--and this situation may draw the attention of mandated reporters, which is why you must have your paperwork in order).

 

No matter what your heart tells you, you simply cannot just do just what your heart and emotions tell you to do--you must also make sure that you are doing things legally and with protections for yourself and your family.  Chances are nothing will happen.  But I have seen when things go terribly, unintentionally wrong.  Please, even though it is annoying and hoop jumpy, at least make sure that you have written evidence of permission for the child to be there and be proactive in understanding when/where the kid is registered for school.  You do not want to fuck around with the school situation, if Canada is like the US, because that's where a lot of intervention/reporting occurs and they'll be required by law to report truancy and suspicious looking situations.

 

A child staying with a nonrelative with no legal authority over them and an AWOL parent is going to trigger suspicion.  No matter how nice you are.  Behaving in a reckless and unwise/stupid fashion doesn't make you reckless or stupid--but you do need to change some things.  Not calling the mother/not getting written permission was not reckless for a weekend.  But over a month--yes, that is reckless and immensely risky to your family.  It wasn't your intent at first to have this kid stay long term.  But that is what it has morphed in to and it sounds like you'd like to continue.  This means that you must behave differently and formalize some things that you wouldn't have thought of before (because there was no need).  One phone call from a parent that is notoriously unreliable is not enough.  You're going to need to be proactive if you really want to do this thing.

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#15 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 11:13 AM
 
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My mom is Canadian. She had a 4 year old abandoned on her. My mom went to court and got guardianship of the child, because the mother did not show up. You want at least that much so you can make medical decisions, and school decisions for the child in your care.


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#16 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 12:06 PM
 
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I'm sorry you feel jumped on, Alphaghetti. I do think you are very kind to be taking this child in & being a reliable adult in her life. I basically lived with a friend for about a year myself and I am forever grateful to her & her mom for taking me in like that. But there were differences, i.e. I was 17, could drive, friend lived a few blocks away so I could stop home as necessary (even just to get my mail), my parents were still marginally involved, etc. I was nearly an adult and I was capable of keeping myself safe, getting a job, etc. Your DD's friend is still a child... and so are her siblings. She needs more than a place to crash for a few nights. She and her siblings need a parental figure who can provide for them -- whether that means their mom getting extra assistance/counseling/etc. or going into foster care or something else. You can't just keep this child at your house indefinitely without a better plan in place. We all know you mean well & your intentions are good but from an outside perspective it could look like something else (not just sex trafficking etc. like the previous poster mentioned but it could look like kidnapping or something too) and who knows what the mom would say when confronted, she could totally turn the tables against you, say you took the child and weren't willing to bring her back when she tried. Things could get twisted and ugly. You need a formal arrangement in place. I would call the mom immediately and tell her that you enjoy having her child here but you need to know how long she is staying, what her plan is, whether she is willing to enroll her in your school district and give you temporary guardianship so you can get medical treatment for her if necessary, etc. Then you need to ensure that she is able to follow through on her end of the agreement in a timely fashion -- you can't just wait for her to 'get around to' enrolling her in school or signing papers, and if she prefers to come pick up her child immediately you need to hold her to that. It doesn't need to be a contentious talk, it can be friendly, civil, but firm and direct.

And, if you are unable to report her, you need to do it anonymously or ask someone to do it on your behalf. There are 2 other children in her care and she is neglecting them. You say they are safe but it is absolutely not safe to leave young children home for extended periods of time without food, money, etc. You need to look at the big picture here, not just what you are doing/can do for this one child now, but what she AND her siblings need in the long term.

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#17 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 01:54 PM
 
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SpottedFoxx, in regards to why a mom who hypothetically obviously doesn't care about her kid might hit the roof if asked to give up custody:

- Because she receives welfare benefits on the basis of the number of children she has.  If she gives up custody of a child, she gets less money.

- Because being asked to sign her child over to someone else could make her feel insulted.

- Because the proceedings might place her under scrutiny by law enforcement or social services, which would have other negative effects for her, and rather then saying "if we do this, I'll have to do an interview with a social worker, who will almost certainly spot my meth habit and take my other kids," she chooses to scream "how dare you try to take my daughter!"

- Because sometimes unstable people throw fits without logical basis.

 

You don't have to look at this from a "good parent" perspective to predict massive drama.

 

Alphaghetti, case workers would be clearly able to see that you are able to physically care for this child, but they would certainly note not calling her mom as a serious inconsistency - one of several in your post.  Why should anyone believe that you are willing to take on this child until she's an adult, when you aren't willing to put yourself out enough to make a call?  That kind of thing is a red flag for case workers to doubt your motives.  If you can't or won't take as simple a step as contacting this kid's mom, what other basic efforts will you be unable or unwilling to make?  Many case workers would also argue that, barring formal and legal proceedings removing this woman's parental rights, you have an obligation to respect the existing family unit - which you don't.  They might feel that this child would be better off in the custody of someone who was willing to make efforts to reach out to her parents.

 

In regards to what your motives might be for having the kid in your house, besides her best interests:

- You might want to hurt her mom by "taking" the kid.

- The child might be your chosen victim for abuse, especially sexual abuse.

- The child might be unpaid household help (aka slave labor).

 - You might have some other reason with no logical basis.

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#18 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 03:09 PM
 
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In Canada they do not take 3rd party witnesses seriously. It has to be someone that has actually witnessed what is happening with that child. The only way someone could call for her is if they are witness to the situation at her home too. Social services dont want to take kids away, unless they have to. They just want to make sure the child has the bare minimum of care, and if there are red flags, they will open a file and keep checking in on her until they are satisfied that she is meeting the bare minimum. I would call for this reason alone. Ideally the girl should be with her mother, and Social Services may help facilitate the changes necessary to keep them all together.


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#19 of 42 Old 07-20-2012, 03:48 PM
 
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I am a teacher in Ontario, and by law I must report possible or suspected abuse to CAS.  Your situation is one that I have to deal with more often than I like to admit.  You are doing a wonderful thing for these kids, but this is not a situation that should not be reported to CAS.  By law, you have to.  http://www.oacas.org/childwelfare/report.htm

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#20 of 42 Old 07-21-2012, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am taking her home on Friday. I will then call CAS to let them know what I've seen. I guess all I can do now is hope that the system does not fail her, because I predict that this will likely sever all ties we have with her family. I feel sad and defeated.

 
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Alphaghetti, case workers would be clearly able to see that you are able to physically care for this child, but they would certainly note not calling her mom as a serious inconsistency - one of several in your post.  Why should anyone believe that you are willing to take on this child until she's an adult, when you aren't willing to put yourself out enough to make a call?  

 

 

I am still reeling that so many of you think that I have done something terrible here. I don't see inconsistencies in my post. I was trying to seek advice on how to talk to the mom - meaning I wanted some form of agreement with her, meaning I wanted to talk to her about what was going on. I NEVER had any intention of keeping this child in my home when school starts without having sought permission from her parents. I was asking how to approach her mother...I was and am more than willing to drive 45 minutes to talk to her mother. When I said I wasn't calling her mother to see why she hadn't attempted to contact me directly, you do realize that her daughter had talked to her mother and her father on more than one occasion?  I did clearly state that. I wasn't trying to do anything underhanded or keep her from speaking to her family. She WAS speaking to her family, from my daughter's cell phone. Her mother doesn't give a crap enough to call me herself, or even ask to speak with me when she talked to her daughter on the phone. Why on earth would I call her to come and get her, when nobody involved wants her to go home, INCLUDING her mother?


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#21 of 42 Old 07-21-2012, 10:14 PM
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Her mother doesn't give a crap enough to call me herself, or even ask to speak with me when she talked to her daughter on the phone. Why on earth would I call her to come and get her, when nobody involved wants her to go home, INCLUDING her mother?

I think you're well-intentioned and trying to do a good thing.  But if you're going to do that good thing, you DO have to initiate contact with the child's mother.  And probably her father.  And you need to consider the other two children in this situation.  This good thing you're trying to do is a really big project.  If you're going to take it on, you need to go above and beyond the efforts put forth by the other adults involved in the situation.  You need to call the kid's mother, fill her in on what her dd has been doing, ask how mom is doing, and make a plan for how long you are keeping her dd.  You probably need to contact her dad.  You need to arrange regular contact for communication about the child, and you need to follow through on that communication even when the kid's mom and dad seem willing to let it drop.  If this child stays with you in a long-term, formalized way, you will need to facilitate visits with both parents and with her siblings. 

 

A social worker looking at the situation will certainly agree that mom's failure to contact you means that she doesn't give a crap.  They may see your failure to contact mom as evidence that you don't give a crap either.  That's not what a caring adult would usually do when trying to help a child.  They may also be concerned that you didn't contact CAS when Mom left the country and left the kids without food.  That situation would have compelled CAS to act, but you didn't report it while it was happening.  That's a pretty big missed opportunity to get services for the children. 

 

It sounds like you're a caring and generous person.  It sounds like you feel exploited by this mother.  If you're going to bring this child into your family, you will not just be helping her.  You will be creating a relationship with her entire family, and she will be bringing her own contributions in to your family.  If you understand what that will mean for your family (and it will not be like having her as a house guest for a month - being part of a household is not like being a guest in it) and you are ready to build that relationship and accept those contributions, then you can probably make this work.

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#22 of 42 Old 07-22-2012, 08:26 AM
 
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Alphaghetti, I can totally understan why you feel slammed. I think you're genuinely trying to do a good thing. I also think you're out of your depth a little. You need to get closer to shore.

That's great that you'd be willing to drive 45 minutes for a meeting with her mom, but how could you make that arrangement without calling in advance? In the time that this child has been in your home, why have you not asked her to put you on the phone for a few minutes when she gets through to her parents?

Workers for social service agencies cannot afford to assume that everyone who comes forward with a generous sounding motive is genuine. They have to investigate. Their job is far less confusing if the people with the generous motives (like you) make good faith efforts to round up the peole who are supposed to be doing the work. On the one hand, child's mom has quite the history of failure (which, I am sorry to say, you've enabled). On the other, your failure to get her on the phone is *your* failure - it doesn't even sound like it would be hard, you just haven't done it.

But it's been days. Have you checked out the old neighborhood to see how the other girl's are? Have you spoken to the mom yet?
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#23 of 42 Old 07-22-2012, 11:42 AM
 
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MeepyCat: I fail to see how my not contacting the mother myself would make it appear to authorities that I was incapable of caring for the child, or how it would make them question my interests. What on earth would be my motive for having a child in my home that isn't mine, other than having her best interest at heart? I don't get this at all.

You do realize that there are people in this world who would want access to a child without oversight from their parents or social services for nefarious reasons, don't you? You might now that your intentions are good, but CPS has no way of knowing that.
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#24 of 42 Old 07-22-2012, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Alphaghetti, I can totally understan why you feel slammed. I think you're genuinely trying to do a good thing. I also think you're out of your depth a little. You need to get closer to shore.
That's great that you'd be willing to drive 45 minutes for a meeting with her mom, but how could you make that arrangement without calling in advance? In the time that this child has been in your home, why have you not asked her to put you on the phone for a few minutes when she gets through to her parents?
 

I guess you missed my update. I have talked to her mother. She's going home this coming week, and I will be calling CAS.


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#25 of 42 Old 07-22-2012, 01:27 PM
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If someone else's child is in my house for a month, I feel pretty strongly that I have an obligation to make contact on a regular basis. Obviously, in an ideal world the child's parents would feel obligated to contact me, but it's not ok to agree that a child will be returned home on a specific day and then wait three weeks to call because the other mom was supposed to call you.

 

Exactly.


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#26 of 42 Old 07-22-2012, 07:41 PM
 
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So, everyone take a breath!

 

Would it work where you live to get guardianship of her (not custody)? Here in the states someone can get temporary guardianship of a child if the parent agrees. This gives you the legal rights to get medical care, sign consents and enroll in school.

 

Given the recent conversation you had with her, it would appear that she might be very open to this. Here in the states this is usually handled in Probate Court. You would have to find out which court handles it. She would have to agree by signing something and there might be a small fee. If at such time as she gets her act together, she could go back to mom.

 

Around here DCF almost prefers these arrangements because they don't have to pay for foster care if an alternate guardian gets guardianship instead.
 


 
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#27 of 42 Old 07-23-2012, 05:01 AM
 
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I'm sorry to her she is going home.  I hope CAS is better than CPS in the US (not all but a good majority are the pits).  Sending thoughts of peace to you and your family.  This must be so hard for you all.


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#28 of 42 Old 07-23-2012, 07:16 AM
 
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Poor kid. I wonder if that mother would let her go if her entitlements would be cut. It was a convenient arrangement for mom when you were taking care of her but mom still had $$.

I hope things work out well, but I am guessing your assumption is probably correct in that it will sever ties with her family. Sorry, I do think you had good intent.
 


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#29 of 42 Old 07-23-2012, 08:04 AM
 
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The best bet for you to retain legal rights would be to talk to a lawyer who is experienced in family law in your county.
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#30 of 42 Old 07-23-2012, 09:06 AM
 
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I guess you missed my update. I have talked to her mother. She's going home this coming week, and I will be calling CAS.

Im sorry to hear this :(

I can see from your posts that you were (and are!) really trying to do the right thing and help this girl. I also understand that you were nervous about enlisting the help of CAS... for good reason. I can imagine its hard to know what the 'right' thing to do is in this situation.

 

How are things now? What was the conversation like on friday with mom? I am hopeful that things worked out for the best and she agreed to let you keep friend for the school year.

 

I imagine at as far as the mom is concerned, she is actually glad you have her daughter. She probably loves her... though she sounds really messed up right now... and is relieved that her child is safe and well cared for.

 

Hugs to you for helping this girl and doing your best for her.


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