Saturday, November 01, 2008

Guardianship IV: Thinking Around It

Thursday afternoon I have an appointment to talk with the social worker about guardianship. This isn't a move forward. So far all that has happened is that I mentioned it to the social worker. She seemed enthusiastic, and we made an appointment. That's all. At that appointment I will, I hope, get the information that will allow me to decide if it is worth pursuing. At this point I really don't know if it is in Gary's best interests.

Though I can't decide whether doing it is a good idea, that doesn't stop my over-active mind from trying to deal with all the problems that would have to be dealt with if it is a good idea. (And those of you who are thinking I should do something more constructive, just know that if I am not distracting myself with this I will be obsessing about the election. Trust me, this is better. I think.)

So I have been thinking about the older boys. The conclusion I have come to is that if I ask them in advance what they think about it and express to them that I am concerned they will feel unloved, that they will respond by being glad that I asked. It's like when my mom paid for my niece's orthodontia. She called me and said she wanted to do it, but she wanted to talk to me because she could not afford to do this sort of thing with all her grandchildren but Niece really did need it and did I mind? I absolutely did not mind. I was happy because Niece really did need it (not just cosmetically, her bite was really in bad shape). I was also pleased that Mom cared enough about my feelings to talk to me.

So I think that if I let the older boys know that what they feel matters to me, and it really does, they will know that they are loved. They might still feel somewhat jealous, but it is something that we can deal with.

I have also been thinking about reasons why it might be a good idea, or not.

I know the agency is moving towards promoting guardianship because it gives the kids permanency. To put it bluntly, it is more difficult to quit being a guardian than a foster parent. In or case I don't think that becoming Gary's guardians would increase the likelihood that he would stay here until he graduates, just because I don't think it will change our commitment to him. We are already committed, however, I understand that the agency generally sees it that way.

I wonder how he would experience it. I know that he would be thrilled to be able to take driver's education, but he might also see agreeing to it as giving up on the last hope that his dad is going to come through and claim him. That would have to be a mixed bag emotionally. On one hand it might be a bit of a relief to protect himself from that emotional rollercoaster. On the other hand it means giving up a fantasy that he would love to come true. I really don't know which side would be stronger. I would of course emphasize that we were not trying to replace his father. We still wanted that relationship to be strong.

And it would be true that if his father's circumstances changed and he wanted Gary back he could go to the court and ask for him. Nothing is impossible.

The social worker mentioned in one of our conversations that Gary has now been in care for 15 months. For the uninitiated, 15 months of care is an important marker in the US. It seems to be handled differently, but it is the point at which the social services is supposed to present to the judge the plan for permanency. In some states that seems to mean that they pursue termination of parental rights (TPR) unless they have a good reason not to. Some states don't pursue TPR unless an adoption placement is in the works. I don't really have a good sense of how it works here because most of the kids I deal with are long past that 15 month marker.

Things are strange in Gary's case because there have been no charges of any kind against his dad. There is nothing he has been told he has to do, and therefore there is nothing that he has failed to do. Still, if he doesn't make contact with Gary, continues to attempt to prevent social services or Gary from being able to contact him, the judge might be very willing to consider a petition for guardianship. At least that is what I think the social worker was implying when she was talking to me about all this. The conversation was a brief one since it occured in the few minutes that Gary was out of the room.

I have also been trying to think about my motivations. Why is it that I have even thought about it when I never thought about it before?

I still think part of the answer is that it was just so clearly not the right thing to do for Evan or David. It isn't so much that I have changed as it is that the circumstances have.

I have become less patient with not be able to sign things. For so much of the time that Evan was here he was 18. He was able to sign his own bleeping forms. There are so many bleeping forms. Forms to register him at school (twice). Forms at the physicans, the dentist, the physical therapist, the counselor, orthodontist, to use the facilities at the Y. Ideally I should, and often do, have the forms faxed to the social worker before we go so they they can get them signed and then fax them back to the office before we get there. Sometimes I forget. There are just so many. When I forget I am supposed to call the office and get permission to sign, or have the social worker give the office verbal authorization or some such thing. This time I just signed the forms.

I don't think that is a reason for wanting to (maybe) become his guardian -- I think it is a symptom.

Anyway, I meet with the social worker on Thursday.


  1. Do you think wanting to pursue guardianship with Gary is tangled up with unresolved feelings about Frankie? Like that you failed Frankie in some way (which *I* totally do NOT believe) and want to overcompensate with Gary to reassure yourself that you are good at this?

    I'm totally talking out of my @$$.


  2. No Corey, I don't, or not significantly. I want Gary to know that we are sticking with him even though he knows it didn't work out with Frankie -- but I don't think I need to prove it to myself. I don't know whether guardianship would make Gary feel more safe in our commitment or not.

    I do think that my emotions about it are in part about my feelings about my father's abandonment of me. Neither of us were physically left by our fathers, I was living with my mom and just visiting him, but the way his dad has cut him off definitely rouses those feelings from my dad cutting me off.

    It wouldn't be smart to pursue guardianship thinking that it would help either of us get over feelings of abandonment. I thought about writing a whole post about this, but it isn't forming yet.

    Right now I am trying to put that aside and think objectively about what is best for Gary. I won't be able to think more about that until after Thursday when I meet with the worker.

  3. Two things....

    A) Since Gary wasn't removed by the state (at least, it doesn't sound like it, his family appears perfectly able to take care of him, just choosing not to), does his father pay for foster care? I've heard that voluntary placements in care have to pay for it. If so, and I'd imagine if you even know the answer you might not tell us, would guardianship change that?

    B) Wow, I van't believe it's been 15 months! I've been reading since before he came--at least, I'm pretty sure I was. Just doesn't seem like more than a year. I thought he rather recently arrive--the football practices come to mind as something that doesn't feel like long ago and I thought they were right after he arrived. unless I'm mixing up the storyline. Anyway, wow!

  4. AnnMarie,

    I don't know about child support.

    Gary has only been living here since June. He was officially entered foster care 15 months ago.

  5. There is nothing wrong with a child having two homes, especially when one of them is a wee bit tottery.


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