Friday, May 16, 2008

Secrets and Gary's Dad

There are some posts that I have not written, and some I have tried to write and not published, because they don't make sense without a piece of information that is private. I know it is frustrating to read a story where much of what is happening now makes sense only because of a piece of information you don't have, but I am going to do that to you. And, as Claudia recently said in her blog, "No, if you email me and ask I won't tell you either."

Here is what I will tell you: Gary entered the state's custody through the juvenile justice system. He was just barely twelve when he did what he did. As I mentioned before, we would not have taken him then. Not even right after he finished, with flying colors, the rehabilitation program the judge sentenced him to. Now, after nearly four years of working hard, with recommendations from his PO, teachers, therapists, and the workers at the group home, we are willing. I think he is a kid who made a mistake and turned his life around. It isn't like Frankie where I think that he deserves a chance to try living in a less structured environment. Gary has lived in a less structured environment (with his aunt for a couple of years) and did very well.

I feel like I have to get that information out there, because it explains a couple of things. Like my anxiety about what will happen when we go to another state at the end of June, only three weeks after he moves in. Will I be able to get a travel order for him? His PO says he is past due for being released from probation, she just has to see him settled into a family first. How long with it take for him to be "settled"? If I can't get a travel order, what will we do? Will the agency be able to find him a respite place? Will I be willing to send him back to the group home where he is now for 10 days? Actually, it just now occurs to me that if we are going to do that they will probably not officially place him with us until we get back. He will spend three weeks in June "visiting" us, and go back while we are gone. None of us would be thrilled about that, but it would work.

The other thing that knowing a little about his past helps explain is his relationship with his father. Gary's father and step-mother will not allow Gary to come home. That is, in fact, why he is in foster care. When he aunt needed surgery and wanted to go live with her adult children, Gary was still on probation, and the state had an interest in making sure he had a place to live. The judge decided that the only way to find him a home was to put him into child protective services.

I do not condemn Gary's parents for saying he cannot come home, even now. It makes me sad for Gary, but I wasn't there.

The point though is that Gary's dad is still his dad in every sense of the term. He has and will keep parental rights. He visits Gary about once a month, which is impressive considering that he lives several hundred miles away. They speak on the phone. They both accept that this is the way it has to be: Gary cannot come home and his dad still loves him.

Gary's dad, who might just need a blog name soon, is not an easy person to deal with. He did not want Gary put in foster care. In fact he threatened to kidnap Gary if the judge did that. When the judge pointed out that if Gary's dad could give them an alternative they would probably take it, he quieted down. Gary's dad has made outrageous claims about the group home where Gary is now. Claims that no one believes.

So I am a bit nervous about what this is going to be like. This will be the first time I have parented a kid whose parent was this involved. I came close with Evan, but his mother was in jail, so not the same thing.

I told Gary that I want his father to feel safe with him living with us, and that I was hoping to meet him.

I am going to get my chance next Wednesday. There is to be a conference at the agency that will include the agency worker, probably some other agency people, Gary's PO, state social worker, and Gary's dad. We are invited too. At least one of us will show, probably both of us.

We will probably identify as aunt and uncle again. My experience before was that it really helped Evan's mom feel comfortable with the situation. It sends the message that we want the kids to be part of our family, but that we are not trying to replace his parents. Fill-in for them, yes. Replace them, no.

I'm still nervous though. Gary's dad has a reputation for trying to control and intimidate people. I don't know how he will react to us.


  1. I hope it works out well and that Gary's dad doesn't feel threatened by you in any way. It sounds like a case of "I don't want to parent him, but I love him and I don't want anyone else to parent him either."

    I've had some control issues with Slugger's previous adoptive mom. I never blogged about them because I didn't feel it was safe to do so. But, there's an awful lot of similarity in the situations.

  2. A friend of mine who fosters has two teens that have VERY involved parents. In this case, the parents have basically thrown up their hands and said they can't handle their children, yet both moms want to be incredibly involved in the caseplan / case management. She is handling it really well, though I think I would have a more, "If you know what to do , then do it" attitude.

    I hope that meeting him helps and that you can establish a relationship that will benefit Gary.

  3. How nervewracking. I hope it goes okay for you.


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