Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Staffing meeting completed.

Gary's dad was there. He was clearly tense and wanting to make a good impression. These meetings are apparently recurring events with a pattern. It started with Gary giving a report on how he was doing in school and at the center. The PO asked about his therapy goals and the group home people reported that they were working on reintegrating him into a family and the community.

We talked about timing. I will pick him up Wednesday evening and bring him to the agency on Thursday for his official "interview" and sign the paper work. Everyone thought it was a little silly when I mentioned that that meant that officially Wednesday night would be a pre-placement visit.

We talked about who was in charge of what, what role the state worker plays, what the agency offers to kids.

At some point, fairly early, Gary's dad, who by the way canceled a trip at the last minute so that he could be at this meeting, told everyone that he was going to be asking the judge to give him back his son in the next 30 to 90 days. He is willing to work fast food if he has to, but since he isn't going to be able to live with his younger kids anyway, he wants at least to live with his older two children. (Gary has a full sister about a year younger than he.) He wants Gary with him before school starts because he knows how difficult it is to switch schools.

The state worker didn't show so no one in the room had any clue regarding how likely Gary's dad's plan is. No one knows if it will be as easy as he thinks it will be. It could be.

I was good. You all should be proud of me.

I told him that we see ourselves as extending the kids' families, not replacing them. I told him that we tell the kids that we will be their foster aunt and uncle and that makes it easier for the kids at school. I told him that we had three boys who emancipated from care from our house and who still come home, that we had one that had spent a year in college and was back living with us while he looked for his own apartment. I told him that we wanted him to feel safe with Gary living with us. At one point he mentioned having a rule about Gary not being allowed to have unsupervised dates until after he was sixteen. It was a little unclear about exactly what his rule was. He explained and I said we wouldn't have any problem with that. I explained that we were used to dealing with agency rules, state rules, and had no problem enforcing restrictions that were important to him. I did manage to qualify that saying that sometimes it possible to make everything consistent, but that if there were things he didn't want Gary to do, that was easy for us to enforce.

His dad was visibly relaxed by the time the meeting was over and shook my hand like he meant it. At one point in the meeting I told Gary that as long as he needed us we would be there and that if he didn't need us anymore... I stopped and his dad said, "Sounds like they will still be there."

I think that Dad is relaxed enough that he won't feel desperate to get any job, even fast food, in order to rescue Gary. I also think that he is sincere in his plan to move and provide a home for Gary.

What I need to do is get my head into that place. We are doing reunification care. It might not turn out that way. The judge might rule that Gary can't go home and his Dad might change his plan, but right now there is no good reason to believe that will happen. I have to go from "maybe he will leave" to "expect him to leave."

This isn't going to be easy.


  1. It will be hard but you sound like you are laying a good foundation and establishing a good relationship with his dad. That will make things "easier".

  2. I agree it sounds like some good groundwork was laid for Gary's Dad and for yourself. It won't be easy but hopefully you can build a plan/relationship with his Dad that is best for Gary. What a relief it would be for Gary to know that it isn't necessarily a situation of you vs his dad.

    My thoughts to you all.

  3. Sounds like it was a good meeting, and I am definitely proud of the way you connected with Gary's dad.

    I haven't done a ton of it, but I think that strict reunification care (i.e. care where it's clear the child will return and it is only a matter of time) is actually easier than reunification is the goal, but who know's if it will happen kind of care. It sounds like you're doing the latter. Good luck!!!

  4. What a tough meeting- you are right- it is going to be tough- but you are off to a great start! I am so glad his dad was a little more at ease by the end. Now he has to see what the judge says- I dont' think that will be pretty. hang on- this is going to be a fun / hard ride!

  5. What a tough meeting- you are right- it is going to be tough- but you are off to a great start! I am so glad his dad was a little more at ease by the end. Now he has to see what the judge says- I dont' think that will be pretty. hang on- this is going to be a fun / hard ride!

  6. While it may not be easy, it is definitely going to be interesting!

    I think you've started out great with Gary's dad. Establishing that relationship -- no matter how much or how little that grows in the future -- is a key element in the success of the placement.

    You aren't the big bad person who is "stealing" their child; instead you are the understanding person who simply cares about their child and is there to help guide him or her.

    Congratulations, Yondalla!


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