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Okay, so one of two things will happen in my case as in all others, obviously. Either baby goes home, or she doesn't. I am lucky that I know the family and believe I will be allowed access to her (sadly, probably more than I should, since in the past they were more than willing to "loan" their kids out for weeks at a time without any qualms). If she doesn't go home, I still *knew* family. Here's where I am doing some introspection and have an interest in what others who have gone before me and have greater training believe.

1) Upon return home, what do I do? We live nearly 2.5 hours from the birth family home where she would return. Sadly, I wouldn't be able to be there a lot, given logistics. What is healthy for her? Dropping out of her life wouldn't be good, I'm assuming, since we will have hit and probably passed the 2 year mark, the only home she's known day-to-day. But how much visiting is too much? Will I interfere with her bonding in her new home? Are weekend visits back in our home going to really, really screw her up? How do I transition and become an "aunt" after being mom while letting her emotionally know I'm still available without interfering with bonding? I guess, how much is too much?

2) Upon NOT returning home, how do I sort through an "open" adoption and the large spectrum that encompasses? What does that mean? I don't even have a clue what "open" really looks like. I mean, at the last hearing where the petition was presented, the grandmother was already insisting I give her my address and phone number (which I haven't and won't), and insisting I give her continued visitation. And even mentioned that means, to her, that I hand this child over for lengths of time. Right.... In my heart, I do not want to continue visits with the family for soooooooo many reasons. I don't think it would be helpful and beneficial, and they just, simply, don't get it. At all. They are seriously enabling the situation and have allowed inappropriate things to occur already in the visits. I don't think, in my heart, they would respect our boundaries at all. They have been malicious and vindictive and are terribly jealous of us. I guess in the back of my head I am terrified if I lay down the rules and say, no, we're not doing things like that, they will get angry and go after taking her from us. And according to her GAL (who I don't like and don't really think is all that great but IS an attorney), the law reads that they take precedence over us. As far as I can see, it's only by blood. There are so many factors that make that a less desirable placement, but blood does tend to make a big impact on judge's decisions. I am afraid to do anything to risk her, but it tpr ever happens, I won't be giving out my personal info and handing her over for visits. Not happening.

How do I figure out how to do this "open" thing on a limited basis? What does it look like? Tell me your story, help me understand. I don't think it would be healthy for her to have access to them; they are toxic. But slamming the door and running away seems really, really strong since I've known her mom for nearly 20 years. I'm thinking a PO Box, letters maybe once a year or so with pictures, and no visits until baby is much older and if/when we feel it may be appropriate. Is that harsh? How do I make such a HUGE decision about her future and how do I know it's the right one? What if I am too rigid and restrictive and she hates me for it one day? But they are toxic. They are not safe now, while rights are open, I'm sure that would only get worse if rights ended.

But there again, I have to keep my mind open and plan for option 1 too. I just want her emotional health to be respected whatever this flippin' court decides. Please share your stories and introspection about what has worked/hasn't worked for you based on either scenario. Thank you!!
 

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You know, to be honest I think that you should probably let go of the idea that there is going to be some scenario where the toxic family members will reach some sort of understanding and not hate you. I just do not think that is going to happen (that they won't hate you) and that is not a reflection on you *at all*. It is not your fault. They are just not in a place right now (and may never be) to not use you as a focal point for fault and rage.

Is there a chance that in the future that might lessen? Sure. But that's beyond your control, and in any case is probably going to take time. You can't and won't allow them to be destructive in your child's life; and you can't really take away their rage and grief at their granddaughter being legally severed from them.

I think the P.O. box would be a good idea, though I personally might be open to a web-based, non-name based email address as well, so that perhaps you guys can have a dialog. At the very least, that shows your kid that you tried to maintain contact in the healthiest manner that you were able to.

Do you live in a binding open adoption state? Most states are not, even if it's not a TPR situation. Does your state have grandparents' rights? I think getting clear on that might ease your mind OR give you more concrete things to prepare for, than letting your imagination/fears go wild, KWIM?

Right now you are the foster parent. Obviously, you're in a different situation than you would be as an adoptive parent. So yes, it's in your best interests if your gut tells you now not to rock the boat, but once the adoption is signed, sealed, and delivered as it were--tables have turned when it comes to power.

So I think your first step right now is not to go over every possibility, but if you can pay for a consult by a family law attorney in your state that can tell you how and if open adoption is binding, how you should seek to craft it, and if grandparents rights are an issue. You don't want to find out that they are when the court comes knocking--but at the same time you don't want to spend a lot of energy worrying about it if they're not. I agree that not knowing what is expected/enforceable is very stressful, and it doesn't sound like you trust the folks you're working with very much, so perhaps an independent consult is in order!
 

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I'm running out the door, and will come back tonight to give my thoughts..

But did want to quickly say that to answer TC's questions, we dont live in an open-adoption-is-binding state, and there are no grandparent rights here, as far as i know.

Also...the grandparents will not *automatically* trump you for placement...the fact that she has been with you so long and that they are not exactly a healthy placement puts you ahead, i think. But you are in a sorta crazy situation with the court so who knows what can happen.
 

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My friend adopted her foster kids. She has a GREAT relationship with biograndma--she goes to counseling with the family, babysits, helps when needed. She is just a great grandma.

She tried to have an open relationship with the biomom. She would allow visits when mom wasn't in jail. She had to put limits on them based on the needs of the kids. The visits were always hard on the older kids and would be followed by difficult behaviors. The older the kids were when they went into care they more they were attached to biomom and the greater their frustrations with adoptive mom. The one athat went into care cc as a baby sees adoptive mom as his mom so there aren't a whole lot of issues.

In time biomom helped the eldest run away. Obviously visits have been stopped. Relationship with biograndma continues as good as it's always been.

So, every family is going to be different, this is just how my friend's family has been.
 

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I just wanted to respond to option #2, briefly. From all that I've followed about your situation, it seems clear that there has been major emotional upheaval because of the convoluted turns the case has taken. So, if option 2 happens, you may want to think of your plans along a continuum. You can make plans for where you are at the present moment, which includes the safety and emotional health of your family. You will likely need time to heal, and breathing space to move forward without the threat of loss hanging over your head.

It is far easier to start out with a more reserved plan of contact, and then open further as you want or need, then to go in the other direction. What is right for the first year may feel very differently five years down the road. You will need to live with yourselves as a family, and experience the birth family after all of the uncertainty is gone, to truly know what is going to work.

I guess I'm trying to say that it's OK to take baby steps. My personal experience is that these relationships are fluid, and sometimes evolving. And, we try to plan for our children when they are little, but they deserve and often want their own say as they get older.

Good luck.
 

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I may be in a similar situation soon.

I'm trying not to not spend too much mental energy on figuring out different scenarios and instead have more of a "i'll cross that bridge when i come to it" attitude...otherwise, i could spend lots of time wondering how to help my son deal with the loss of his little buddy....or how to facilitate an open adoption with one or both parents. and since i dont know WHICH of those i'm going to be struggling with, i'm mostly decided not to struggle with either until i am actually there.

With my fs' mom...i'm totally fine with having alot of contact with her. I'm concerned, though, if i do get to adopt the sister of my foster son, how that will affect her. she is older and has a very close (though not always appropriate) relationship with her mother. I think it could cause her to feel very conflicted and guilty to have regular visits with her mom. I think she would, at the very least, need some time to really bond with *our* family and know that this isnt just another foster placement. And for me i would need time to feel fully like "The Mom" and right now the relationship i have with the mom is that i recognize my foster son is HER son and esp during visits i defer to her alot.

And its weird, for me, because my fs' mom has put a fair amount of effort into getting to know me, letting me know her, and i feel like our relationship has come so far in the past few months (although i was reminded at the last visit, when she told her daughter she was getting them back and told me she would appeal any TPR that we have much different "agendas" for obvious reasons)...that i can really feel comfortable having SOME kind of relationship with her in the future (so far i have said only that there will be some kind of contact, that i dont know what that will "look" like but at the very least will include pics/email/etc)....but with the dad, he doesnt even really talk to me, so its hard for me to gauge how comfortable i am with him or how safe i'd feel with contact. The mom and i have already exchanged cell numbers and email, the dad...nothing. So that will be weird, i'm not sure how to handle that.

Anyway....i think you can just take it slowly, start more closed and you can open it up more when you know its ok to do so. Frankly, if the TPR goes through and you adopt...i think you and your family deserve a complete BREAK from the other family, even if its just for awhile. I think it would be appropriate to have no contact at all for a certain length of time (a few months or whatever, how much time you need to heal from this experience) and then start with updates, pics etc. I think at this point in person visits would benefit them more than the little girl.

When is the next hearing??
 

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"Right now you are the foster parent. Obviously, you're in a different situation than you would be as an adoptive parent. So yes, it's in your best interests if your gut tells you now not to rock the boat, but once the adoption is signed, sealed, and delivered as it were--tables have turned when it comes to power."

that

After two years of not rocking the boat, attempting to appease toxic people who enable child abuse, handing over your dfd against her will to be manhandled by the woman who gave birth to her while she screams in terror, ET CETERA, your whole family needs a great big break. Close that door, slam it, lock it and move on. After, like, a YEAR of peace, maybe think about sending grandma some pictures and a letter and opening up that PO Box so she can reply.

I'm not saying that's it's not important for your dfd to have access to knowledge about her origins, and even to meet at these people at some point. But on the priority list, HEALING needs to come first.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post
Right now you are the foster parent. Obviously, you're in a different situation than you would be as an adoptive parent. So yes, it's in your best interests if your gut tells you now not to rock the boat, but once the adoption is signed, sealed, and delivered as it were--tables have turned when it comes to power.
Tigerchild, you give such great advice
We wrote everything the birthfamily wanted into the open adoption agreement. We weren't trying to be devious or anything, we just wanted the adoption to go as smoothly as possible. We had every intention of meeting our half of the agreement. But within a year, the birthmother had missed enough of her obligations that the agreement was nullified. This puts us in a great place. We can be as open as we feel is good for our daughter, but have zero requirements toward the birthmother. We communicate with ther via e-mail and we are open to doing visits in a public place, but she drops the ball every time. Unsupervised visits are completely unacceptable. We were told that if we left her alone with the birthmother, we could be reported for neglect. I would be really surprised if unsupervised visits could be part of an official open adoption agreement when abuse and neglect are the reasons for TPR.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you, everyone, for your input. This is such a strange land to be in, trying to figure out the future. We've spent so much of the case just trying to be in the here and now, and I want to have some mental idea of tomorrow. I want to be prepared for both possibilities.

I think a clean break for a while is definitely in order. Our next hearing is in mid-March, and I won't be present. My husband will go instead so I can be with our newborn nursling (since it's 2 hours down, 2 hours back, and then last time I had to wait nearly 3 hours before it started). I am glad. I have fought my hardest and just feel defeated. I can't sit there one more time to hear them say, "Sure, here's your next chance." I can't do it.

I guess one of my greatest concerns is sending her home and navigating those waters. I don't want to betray her, but I don't want to put her in a rough spot emotionally. I will have to seek out a family law attorney for a consult. I do know a really good one we were going to retain when it was going to head to adoptions at the onset.

Thank you so very much, everyone. What an emotional journey this is, huh??
 

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I can't even believe this discussion is happening... I'm so sorry your case is going this way...


congratulations on your upcoming birth!! hoping for some peace for you guys...
 

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Wow, sending good thoughts your way.

Our open adoption looks very different since DS's borthmom and grandma are not toxic and have been respectful of us. We've let them come to our house and have had no problems.

In your case, my gut reaction...

I would do everything I could to ease the case toward adoption (as I know your are doing) and reassess then. If it goes to RU figure out how to define your relationship then. With a new baby coming, you'll just wear yourself out with hypotheticals. Deal with what is happening today.

My friend who is a foster parent said to me once: "Yes, it's hard when they go back to a less-than-ideal situation. But I got to impact their lives while I had them and that's at least something."

If she stays and you become an adoptive parent, the cards all lie in your hand as far as I know. For us, at least, there is nothing more than a "gentleman's agreement" that we'll do anything at all. There is nothing legally binding us to do anything.

One thing that has worked really well for us is to send lots of pictures via email to his birthmom. It makes her feel like we care that she exists, lets her know he is doing well and is very, very easy for me. It also does not impact him at all while he is small. Once he is older he will have a say, of course.

(((HUGS))) and congrats on your upcoming delivery.
 

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I wish that my son's birth mother and grandmother had e-mail access. It would be so nice to periodically send pictures. When Polliwog's adoption finalizes, I'll be able to send her birth father pictures through a relative of his. The relative is bilingual, so that will help.
 

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Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post
I wish that my son's birth mother and grandmother had e-mail access. It would be so nice to periodically send pictures. When Polliwog's adoption finalizes, I'll be able to send her birth father pictures through a relative of his. The relative is bilingual, so that will help.
When will her adoption be final?? I'll bet you're anxiously counting the days...
 

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May I step in and give you advice from the perspective of the other side of the fence? I know I'm not a foster parent or an adoptive parent, but I do have 2 children that were given up for adoption, 1 of which was given up through a PGO due to issues beyond my control.

I think that as a foster parent and an adoptive parent you must realize that you are taking over responsibility from parents that you may not believe to be fit but at this point in time are doing the best they can, or they believe that they are.

For me my biggest fear with my sons being adopted, especially since one of them was adopted by a foster parent, it was that the child would be painted a picture of their parents that is a bad one. Being someone who has experienced this fear it is very real, your child is going to get older and want to know where they come from, and I think parents feel that their relationship later on will be hindered by whatever you may tell your child, we don't have control over that so we live in fear that our children will grow to resent us based on half truths or untruths. Its hard to trust a foster parent or adoptive parent for most people because you are doing what we wish so much to be doing, that's probably where the jealousy comes from.

With my first child's adoption, I was promised that I would get pictures and letters every six months, it was even ordered in a court of law, the adoptive parents have not even followed through, that hurts me extremely. Its like they have forgotten the agreement they promised, I found them on facebook and very kindly asked for limited contact, I never asked to be added to their facebook as a friend or anything, just limited contact and I thanked them for giving my son a life I could not provide, and explained that I was not going to interfere, or push. The wife blocked me on facebook, which is fine she's not ready to send me pictures or follow through on the court order that we have.

With my second son, I have the kind of relationship where I only know the adoptive mom's first name, my parents are friends with them and see my son numerous times a month, that works for them, they send me pictures and give my parents permission to give me updates and I appreciate that, I don't have a doubt in my mind that they are a very good family and they have every intention of allowing my son to make the decision to find me. And I don't plan on overstepping my boundaries because I don't have to wonder.

My youngest child was in foster care, and I continue to have a relationship with his foster parents, we invite them to all special holidays and occasions, they always either come to my house or we meet in public. I email them when I feel comfortable and we have an amazing relationship with them, I don't know where they live but I do have their phone number and their email address. I'm glad that I get to continue a relationship with them. They have been a continued source of support.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is keep your child's family as in the loop as you feel comfortable, if that means only pictures and letters then awesome, and if your child goes home don't try and force yourself on the bio parents, let them come to you. If that means giving them only your email addy then that's what it means, if they want you to be involved in something then the ball is in their court. Also understand that they are going through a very rough time too and may not realize how toxic they are. I know I certainly didn't at first and I fought tooth and nail for my middle son because I really did care about him and he was my life, in the end though I realized that me being in his life was not completely productive and was doing more harm then good, I'm glad I finally get the chance to be a healthy parent now that I'm in a healthy place in life, God has given me a second chance. And the most important thing is to never paint your child's bio parents in a bad light, let them decide for themselves.
 

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Quote:
And the most important thing is to never paint your child's bio parents in a bad light, let them decide for themselves.
Yes, i agree with this.

At the same time, though, i think its vitally important that adopted children get ALL the facts that we parents have to give them, so that they CAN make a decision themselves about what has happened to them and how they may feel about bio parents. So, i guess what i'm saying is, that i think you can present the facts w/o putting your own moral spin on it, like, i can tell my son his mother did not contact him after he was born, nor try to get him back, and likely her mental illness was a big part of that, without saying something like "i dont know how any mother could just turn her back on her baby!" While it would be tempting to say "im sure she loved you very very much and just wanted you to have a better life"...i dont know if, in fact, that is TRUE.

If rights were terminated because of drug addiction, neglect, etc...i think its important to tell the child that (in age appropriate terms and more info the older the child gets), and not fear that you are unnecessarily portraying a negative picture of the parent. I know some parents have really ugly views of the bio parent (like, personally, i dont see any reason to call a birthparent "nasty"...thats your kid's mother for pete's sake!) but i've also seen some APs paint a false "rosy picture" that doesnt serve anyone either.
 

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Tiffani - Thank you for the e-hugs. I admit when my middle and youngest sons were taken from me ( at differing times) I was extremely angry at the system, my first and foremost concern was not what the foster parents wanted or what the social workers wanted but what I truly felt was best for my child. Its not easy to watch someone else be a parent to your child and it makes for lots of resentments, and its not even neccessarily towards the foster parents but towards the social workers who step in to remove our children. People seem to believe that all people who lose their children are bad and it must have happened due to abuse or neglect, and they are getting that from a social workers file and writings when that may not be at all what has happened. I just wish that more people could hear the other side of the story. Granted I do know that there are A LOT of toxic people whose children end up in the system. But I hope that my explaination gave you somewhat of a perspective of how we as the bio parents feel.
 

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Originally Posted by queenjane View Post
Yes, i agree with this.

At the same time, though, i think its vitally important that adopted children get ALL the facts that we parents have to give them, so that they CAN make a decision themselves about what has happened to them and how they may feel about bio parents. So, i guess what i'm saying is, that i think you can present the facts w/o putting your own moral spin on it, like, i can tell my son his mother did not contact him after he was born, nor try to get him back, and likely her mental illness was a big part of that, without saying something like "i dont know how any mother could just turn her back on her baby!" While it would be tempting to say "im sure she loved you very very much and just wanted you to have a better life"...i dont know if, in fact, that is TRUE.

If rights were terminated because of drug addiction, neglect, etc...i think its important to tell the child that (in age appropriate terms and more info the older the child gets), and not fear that you are unnecessarily portraying a negative picture of the parent. I know some parents have really ugly views of the bio parent (like, personally, i dont see any reason to call a birthparent "nasty"...thats your kid's mother for pete's sake!) but i've also seen some APs paint a false "rosy picture" that doesnt serve anyone either.
I can completely agree with you! You put it in a great terms and explaination.
 

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Originally Posted by Sweetmama26 View Post
People seem to believe that all people who lose their children are bad and it must have happened due to abuse or neglect, and they are getting that from a social workers file and writings when that may not be at all what has happened.
Sweetmama26, I am sorry for your loss. I don't understand this quote, though. I agree that most parents who have their rights terminated are not bad people, but are not able to parent at that point in time. But are you suggesting that children are removed and parental rights are terminated for other reasons than abuse and neglect?
 

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Originally Posted by pumpkingirl71 View Post
Sweetmama26, I am sorry for your loss. I don't understand this quote, though. I agree that most parents who have their rights terminated are not bad people, but are not able to parent at that point in time. But are you suggesting that children are removed and parental rights are terminated for other reasons than abuse and neglect?

Yes that is what I'm saying. My middle son was removed because I had PPD and I was on an anti-depressant that was making me have horrible thoughts and I had to wean myself off, I was doing it under a doctor's supervision. I suffer from Depression and an anxiety disorder. They removed my son because of the fact that I went off my medication and someone reported me and said I was not a suitable parent unless I was on my medication. I can not tell you the amount of time I spent trying to get my son back before I finally just gave up and told the judge to just allow my rights to be terminated because I just could not put my son through that anymore.

With my youngest son, I had moved to another province where I was out of the jurisdiction where my middle son was removed from me, and they put a national wide alert on me, and it took literally 6 months of me doing really nothing except councelling for my anxiety and depression. To which my social worker here told me she believed that my worker where I was previously had falsified some of the stuff in my file. I'm not saying that happens in all cases at ALL. I'm just saying that sometimes it does happen. I wasn't trying to portray that CPS is never there to do whats best for your children because I do believe they are but like any company or business or government service, there can be corruption and sometimes it does happen. And its unfortunate. But my intent is not and never has been to paint the system in a bad light because I'm positive they help more families then not.

ETA - I was weaning myself off of paxil so I could go on EFFEXOR XR, and I was doing it completely doctor supervised but I had to wean slowly off, and I needed to be completely off for a month to not have a chance of having a chemical interaction between the drugs.
 
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