Thursday, July 06, 2006

Evan's Story Part 2: First Steps

We went to the agency office and read through the file, although there was not a lot in it. There was some information from when he had been in care during middle school, when his mother was in prison the first time, and the police report from the incident a few months before.

We wrote to the social worker:

So we feel good about what we read in the file. We would like to be able to meet Evan for dinner or lunch or something and then schedule an over-night after that.

We think it is only fair that Evan get to read a "file" on us too, so I wrote the following. You can give it to him before arranging a meeting or we can talk about it at our first meeting.

Evan knows David so I don't think it is breaking confidentiality to say that the last six months that David was living with us were very stressful for him. He wanted to be with us but he also wanted to be with his friends in The City and fully participate in all YAD activities. This left him with no time to work a job and so he was exhausted, stressed, and broke.

I don't want Evan to put himself in the same position. So he should think seriously about what it means to live in Our Small Town.

What we can offer:
-Genuine acceptance and support
-Freedom to make most of his own decisions
-Transportation to the youth group in the City on Sundays
-Help with problems that he brings to us

What we expect:
-School attendance (no cutting)
-A job in Our Small Town (probably fast food or a grocery store)
-Living here 7 days a week
-Following basic family rules
-Everyone knows where everyone is
-Everyone treats everyone with respect
-Everyone contributes (cooking dinner one night a week, one daily and one weekly chore)
-Everyone does their job (see above)

I am not opposed to his taking the bus to his old high school in the city, but I am concerned. Most of his time will be spent commuting, in school, and working. He will have very little time for friends.

We are looking forward to meeting Evan and hope that he is thinking as carefully about whether we are right for him as we are.


We are going forward with the process with Evan.

I have learned a few things about him. He went into the system a month or two ago when he showed up at YAD (the youth group for gay kids) bruised. The group leader, Jose, had him fill out a police report. The original plan was to try to put him back with his mom under the agreement that no one else live with them. When someone or other went to talk to her they saw her meth out in plain sight, so that plan was off. She is likely to end up in jail. Evan's father shot himself when Evan was three, and there are no other relatives to take him.

My dragging my feet about the state started a conversation that is resulting in
Evan getting into the permenancy program. They told me that they would only do this if I was serious about considering him. I said I was. The next day they told me the process was under way and it would be the fastest intake ever -- and I should still consider this as carefully as anything else. He will be admitted to the program by August 15. Since I do not have a state license he cannot officially live with me until then. He may spend up to 14 nights here in "pre-placement visits." We will meet him on Friday, July 8.

We called Jose to see what he knows about Evan. He does not know him well, but is generally impressed with him. He volunteers at a soup kitchen and worked hard on the security team at Pride.

We read his file. He has had some special education services (Hubby says he is "higher" than David). He has been hospitalized for depression but there is no record of behavioral problems. This is less information than there would have been if he had been in the system.

I sent a letter to the social worker to share with him laying out what we had to offer and what we expect from him. I talked to the worker on the phone later and she said she appreciated it. She said it was very clear. I told her my basic assumption is that he is old enough to make his own decisions and I will expect him to come to me when he needs help. We are going into this in a more business-like way. If he follows the rules, he is welcome. If he doesn't then he will have to leave. At eighteen years old being in comprehensive care is a privilege.

I told her to tell him that we would be his aunt and uncle, not his parents. Given that he has not been in care most of his life I think that will be psychologically easier for him. Whatever complex feelings he has about his mother, she is his mother and I am not. It will be easier for me too. It signals a less intense relationship.

If I am going to keep doing care I think I need to learn how to maintain that sort of attitude more often.

Evan's social worker is new -- in every possible way. She just finished her master’s. She did an internship at our agency. Anyway, Brenda seems like a very nice young woman. I am glad that I am experienced. I would not want to have a beginner when I was beginning.

Evan's Story Part 1: The Beginning
Evan's Story Part 3: First Meetings

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