Friday, August 15, 2008


I've been thinking about what, if anything, I should do about setting boundaries with Gary's dad, whom I'm calling "Grant" here. Want to help me think through it?

What I am afraid or nervous about:
I don't think that Grant will physically hurt anyone. I don't think he will maliciously threaten us. I don't think he will try to kidnap Gary, even though he once threatened to do that in court.

I do think that if he believes that I have the power to decide whether he gets unsupervised visits with his son he will attempt to intimidate me. Some of it would be just being large, threatening-looking, and tell me what a bitch I am if I don't do what is right. He may sincerely believe that if I don't recommend him than I am unfit as a foster parent, and therefore report me for anything he doesn't approve of. He may do that anyway, of course. I expect that he will complain any time he disagrees with decisions that we make with respect to Gary.

What I sortof want to do:
I want to have the state worker tell him that he is not permitted to come into my house. I want him to decide that there is no reason why Grant can't be trusted to have unsupervised day visits and just give permission for them already. I wrote a note to the state worker recommending that instead of starting with supervised visits we start with short unuspervised visists. I mean, really, Grant has no history of abusing his kid and all he wants is to take him out to grab lunch.
If the worker is not willing to do that, then I want him to tell Grant that unsupervised visitation will happen only on the recommendation of the social worker and that Grant should plan on having visits with Gary with a worker before taking him out by himself.

Evan's family visited here, and I felt really good about it. I would like to get to the place where Grant was permitted and felt comfortable here. If we do move towards that, for now I definitely want to have the rule that he may only come to the house if Roland is here.

What I am doing now:
Nothing much. I think that telling Grant he can't do a bunch of things will only make him angry and want to fight us all. He seems very happy with the amount of contact he has with Gary via the phone. I plan on making sure he knows when Gary's football games are so that he can go to those. If he does call to make a visit here, as Gary already told him the state worker said he could, Roland plans on responding with something like, "Cool. Where should Gary and I meet you?" In other words, we plan on avoiding having him in the house without telling him he isn't allowed in the house.

This is all new and sort of strange for me. As a foster parent I have felt anxiety about the antagonism I anticipate from my kids' parents. This isn't new. The only thing that is new is that the parent in question is actually involved in Gary's life. It is all complicated by the fact that he is not a danger to Gary, but he has behaved like an ass with social workers and judges.

He also has just failed to come through.

I really had expected him to carry through on visitation here because he did visit once a month or so when Gary was at the group home. I am beginning to figure out though that that was different. Gary was lonely there and he almost certainly asked with every call, "When are you coming to see me?" I know he still misses his dad and wishes for an in-person visit, but his phone calls are longer, coming more often, and filled more with reports about what he is doing than with complaints about how sad and lonely he is.

Combine that with the fact that his dad really does work extremely long hours, is trying to reconcile with his wife and care for the other children, including a teenage daughter who is acting out, in-person visits with Gary have fallen in priority for him.

All of this falls so far short of my ideal for this relationship. I want us to be partners, but I am a little afraid of him and he does not trust me. Not a great foundation to build on.


  1. What if you guys offered to take Gary to Grant for a visit? Maybe that would make Grant feel more comfortable about you AND it wouldn't be in your home. (I know, permission from SWs and all. Just an idea.)

  2. We pretty much have, and will continue to volunteer to drive Gary anywhere in the area that Grant wants to visit him. Gary is not allowed to go home, so that location is out. I suppose if Gary really wanted to we could drive to Grant's job site, if Gary knows where it is.

    I think the ball really is in Gary's court and is going to stay there for the foreseeable future.

  3. I think you are being smart not wanting Grant to come by your house, given his history. The "where can we meet you?" phrase is just perfect.


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