Thursday, August 30, 2007

TPR?

There is a hearing scheduled for December at which the state is asking for Frankie's mother's parental rights to be terminated. She has got a public defender and has decided to try to regain custody. I don't know if Frankie knows about the hearing or his mother's intentions.

This is an unusual situation for me to be in. This program is for kids for whom adoption and reunification have been ruled out. Clearly the state is confident about how it will go, but it is not settled. It is possible that in December the judge will say the Frankie should go home.

She has apparently been requesting (demanding?) to have our phone number. I am told that the worst thing that that she might do if she had it was not show up. She does not pose a (physical) danger to us or Frankie. Though I told the social workers that I do not object to her having our phone number, they have suggested that Frankie make the first contact.

So I told Frankie that his mother really wants to talk to him and that he can call her anytime he likes. It is a long distance call, and the land-line has a long-distance block, but he can borrow my cell phone. He says that he wants to call her, and will, but this is not a good time because (insert excuse here). He doesn't say this with much anxiety or enthusiasm. He speaks of his parents positively: his father taught him survival skills (like how to make a spear for box-hunting) and his mother gave him secret ingredients for some recipes. He does not talk about abuse; he does not express anger; he does not show anxiety; he does not seem to even have hurt feelings.

He wants to call her, just not as much as he wants to shop for bras on the Internet or throw sticks at boxes, or...

But I think about how I would feel about him going back. My first thought was that I am glad that we will have had this time to be part of his life. I am grateful to whatever powers or chance brought him here so that at least for a few months he could be affirmed. If he goes home, he will not be given the same freedom to explore gender and sexuality he has here, but he will know that it is okay to do so. He will have to stifle himself for a few more years, but at least he will know that there is an accepting world waiting for him.

And I know that I will be very sad. This kid can be very annoying, but he is also very endearing. I will miss him. I know that if he left now that I would be sad. I know that by December it will be gut-wrenching.

I know that it will hurt Brian and Andrew more. I mentioned it to Andrew and his eyes filled with tears. I told him that the state expects that she will loose. His response though was worry for Frankie. There was no way she would allow him to wear dresses. He wanted to know if the judge would consider that. I told him that I did not know. All I knew was that the state does not believe the judge will give her custody.

But I wonder. Frankie is from a pretty conservative part of the state. Will the judge think that our nurturing of Frankie's specialness is a reason for letting him stay here? Or will his mother argue that we are turning him into a pervert and that even if she can't have him he must at least be moved to a normal home? I have worked cooperatively with families before. I loved that I had a good relationship with Evan's family. The moment his mother hugged me and thanked me for taking care of him is one of my treasured memories.

Somehow I don't think that Frankie's mom is going to hug me and thank me for buying her son bras and skirts that twirl.

I don't know enough about the past to know what is the right thing to do. I have deep respect for the connections between parents and their children. I don't think that the state should be deciding which families deserve to have children. Foster care is necessary to care for children whose parents genuinely cannot take care of them, but it is not the preferred option.

I am prepared to believe that, even if his mother cannot accept the journey he is on, it might be best for him to know that the mother who gave birth to him and raised him for 10 years wants him back. It might be good for him to live with her again for a few years and know that though she lost him to his father and then to the system, her love for him stayed strong. Being back with her, and with his sisters whom I know he misses, for the last few years of his childhood might be healing, even if it meant postponing other journeys of self-discovery.

I could be made to believe that it is best for him.

But it would still hurt like hell.

3 comments:

  1. This is similar to how I feel about my foster kids. They want to be with Mom, and I wish they could be. However I KNOW what life will be like with Mom and they deserve better. We go back in October, and although my gut feeling has been since day one that Mom doesn't want to parent and isn't capable, it is possible that she will again be given the opportunity.

    It is complicated, and I am always wondering what I should be hoping for.

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  2. I don't understand why they are bothering with a TPR if it's already been decided s/he's not going home.

    What benefit is the TPR going to serve, since there's no plan to put Frankie on the adoption track?

    I'm sorry that you have to worry about this.

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  3. Yes, this is my life, every day in this post. It breaks my heart too.

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