Friday, October 24, 2008

Guardianship II: Worrying too much

Since I told the social worker that I would like to learn more about what legal guardianship for Gary would look like, possible scenarios keep running through my head. I need to exorcise them and I shall attempt to do that by giving them to the Internet. Ready, Internet? Okay.

Scenario 1. Gary's dad is relieved, as the social worker says that many parents are, that at least Gary is out of foster care. He sees this as the best thing for Gary and understand that one of the advantages is that he will have easier access to his son because I can give permission for visits. I think that Gary needs as much time with his Dad as possible. Gary and his Dad don't have to worry about social services. Gary's dad is in no way threatened. We all live happily every after.

Scenario 2. Gary's dad doesn't like the idea. Someone is able to discuss the pros and cons with him in a calm manner (even though no one has been able to get him to respond to any attempts at contact for two months). For whatever reasons he says no. We respond by saying that in that case we won't pursue it. The advantages legal guardianship would give to Gary do not outweigh creating tensions in his relationship with his father.

3. No one can get Gary's Dad to respond to a request for conversation and so when he hears about it it seems to him to be a done deal. He fights it, tells Gary that he is going to get him back, makes promises, leading to disappointment. Gary's dad calls social workers and judges and tells them that if they do this he will kidnap Gary. In other words, Gary's dad behaves the way he did when Gary went into foster care.

4. Gary's dad acts like my dad when I was a teenager. He learns that Gary thinks it is a good idea* and is hurt. Having a wife on one side who wants Gary out of their lives and a son who seems to him to be saying that he wants out too, Gary's Dad rejects first, says, "Fine. If that's what you want, then go." Deep damage is done to their relationship.

This whole situation is just strange. There is no case plan for Gary's Dad to be following, so there is nothing for him to be failing to do. Nobody has any authority to require him to have meetings with them. There is no way for us or anyone else to have a conversation with him.

Okay...I know. I'm a worry-wart.

I have realized that some of my reasons for wanting to pursue legal guardianship are tied up with wanting to protect Gary from the sense of rejection he is experiencing -- an experience that reminds me so much of my own. That doesn't mean it is a good idea. It just means that I have to realize that my emotions are what they are.

*Gary has no idea that I have asked to learn more about this. I am pretty confident that he will think it is a good idea. I imagine he will be on board at "no state social worker" or "driver's education class" whichever comes first.


  1. You know what my thought was as I ran through these scenarios? Oh, yeah. That could happen. To each. and. every. scenario.

    I'm no help what-so-ever, am I?

  2. Ummm. Hmmm. Oddly, I didn't think any were likely, except the one that mimicked the one he already did (#3)

    But I think it might go like this: Dad is reading the correspondence, but has made promise to new wife not to contact Gary if Dad wants to stay married. Dad can't risk the marriage dissolving and losing his younger kids. Dad doesn't fight it, lets it happen. Nothing changes in the Gary/Dad relationship- there hasn't been contact and still won't be. At some point later (12 or more months), Gary will attempt to contact his Dad, being fed up with being ignored (heck, normal teenage emotions are bound to kick in at some point after he gets past his concerns that ya'll will dump him and decides to be more open with his emotions) and then Dad will voice his irritation at being "dumped" by "Gary choosing new parents and abandoning him". Gary and Dad will have brief counseling sessions at request of Yondalla who arranges the whole thing in order to keep peace. Family melds lovely-like and things are much improved, just by removing the red tape associated with social services.

    So, there ya go- a happy (although delayed in some ways) ending. Lose not your hope, oh fearless one!

  3. Guardianship worked well for us with Ella. Her birth mom first wanted to fight it, but in court the judge did a good job of explaining that it was best for Ella, that we would not need to contact her or a social worker to meet Ella's medical needs, get a haircut, travel and so on. He sort of made it sound like a convenience thing. We did get reimbursement at the same rate of foster care and she was kept on the state paid medical plan. The downside to it was that we were completely responsible for arranging, supervising and/or reusing visits. I had to be the bad guy a few times when birth mom was really wacked-out. At one point birth mom got a bill from the state for child support which completely freaked her out, but she didn't really have to pay it. If Ella weren't so young we may have kept it as a guardianship, but she really was (and is) just a baby. We wanted real permanence. With guardianship, the birth parents can request that it be revoked at any time (they have to give VERY good reasons why once they get to court, but they can ask any time). In our state there is a home visit with a social worker once a year and a status hearing once a year.

    If Gary's dad doesn't think it's permanent, maybe he will be happy to go along with no fall out at all. He may even like the idea that a social worker doesn't need to approve his visits.

  4. Sadly, I am betting on #4.


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