Saturday, November 08, 2008

Opinions from Foster Care Alumni Sought

I know there are some foster care alumni who read this blog and I really want to know what you think about the guardianship debate. I know situations are complicated and each is different, but I would really like to know what you think.

The advantages of getting guardianship are these:

  • Not being in foster care any more.
  • Being able to take driver's ed before he turns 18, if we can afford it. Andrew waited until he was 17 to get a permit so that I could teach him to drive because, in part, I did not want to spend $350 for him to take driver's ed. It is probable that the price of the classes has gone up. Now kids can't get a premit without being enrolled in a class until they are 18. Our school system offers summer courses for a limited number of students for about half of what the private instructors charge. If I can get the boys in, I could afford that.

The disadvantages are:

  • Not having social workers to help with problems. I didn't know that Evan had a drug problem until he had been with us for something like 8 months. The agency sent him to a private clinic in Los Angelos because that was the best place they could find for an 18-year-old gay man. They paid for us to fly to visit him before he came back. I don't think that Gary will need that sort of intervention, and I don't know if I can negotiate for that sort of support if it is needed.
  • Having a tighter budget for things like clothes.
  • Living in a families whose budget tightened up in various and subtle ways. (Even though I would ask the agency to give us some support, I know it wouldn't be the same as it is now).
  • Not having the possibility of some big-ticket items. For instance, if he decided he wanted to visit his maternal family, the agency would make all the arrangements and pay for the tickets. I couldn't afford to do that.
  • Certain types of support in reconnecting with other family. For instance if he wanted to make contact with his sister who is currently living with a relative and may end up in foster care herself, someone from the agency would make first contact. If they decided they needed counseling, the agency would pay for it.
  • No longer having the opportunity to be sent away to expensive summer camps.
  • It might interfere with getting off probation. We don't know if he will get off anyway, but the PO cares about him a lot and does not want to let him go unless she is confident that he is stable. Any change in his status and she would put a hold on his paper work.

There is also the whole issue of his father. I don't know if petitioning for guardianship would stir up issues, and I don't know if that would be good or bad. His father tends to be either absent or wanting to exert total control. When he wants to exert control he threatens. Without social services between us, those attempts at control, if they happen, would be directed at us. It would be easier for his dad to get him back. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if he could live with his dad that would be GOOD. Sad for us, but good for him. However it could be that since it is easier, his father would put him through that emotional roller coaster, as he did this summer, more often. I really just don't know about this on.

Gary would have the final say in this, but I won't present it to him unless and until I know that I won't have to "take it back." I would want the agency to agree to certain sorts of supports and I don't want Gary to think that we wouldn't do this because we want the money. Direct subsidies are part of the issue for me, but the money isn't about lining my pockets but is about what I can do for him.

One more thing: the state social worker has agreed to back off. This is going to make our life much easier. Having two social workers both trying to do their best to provide services but not talking to each other was really frustrating. I have a really good relationship the private agency and now they are the only group I have to deal with.

I'm going to call Evan today and see if he will meet with me. As I said in a previous post, the advantages of guardianship are hard to measure. The advantages of staying with the system are tangible.

Though I am interested in foster alumni, I welcome comments from anyone who has relevant experience. Thank you!

I currently have the blog set to anonymous comments and, though I know other readers would love to read your comments, you can email me at

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