Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hearing and GAL

The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) called today to talk to Gary. She waited for an hour when a teen might just possibly be out of bed in the summer. She was surprised to learn that he was already in school. I asked her if she had talked to anyone else yet. She said, "Oh, well we don't worry much about the kids in [agency], I know he is stable."

So I caught her up.

Over the past year, her involvement has been less critical than in other cases. This time it may be different. She is the one that will be responsible to represent what he wants. Actually, her job is to say what she thinks is in his best interests, but she also has to indicate what he wants. Some tell me their reports often say something like, "though X clearly expresses a desire to return home, I do not believe..." Gary understands that that is her job.

One lawyer there will be representing Will. If there has been communication between them and Will hasn't changed his mind, the lawyer will be obligated to state that his client would like to terminate his parental rights. I don't know if he is obligated to say why.

The social worker told me he is definitely putting in his report that they are recommending termination of parental rights, so their lawyer will be representing that position. The social worker is also going to state that we have expressed an interested in adopting him.

We may be asked for our assessment as to how things are going, and we will say that they are going well. We might be asked if we are interested in adopting him. Our answer is that if Gary needs and wants to be adopted we would do so without hesitation. That may impress the judge, since teen boys don't usually have people waving their hands saying they want to adopt them.

However, I don't think that Gary is interested in being adopted. If his parents' rights are terminated he may decide as an adult that having legal next of kin is a good thing. Right now though I think the idea of taking one new parents, even nice ones he likes fine, is an emotional burden he does not need to deal with. It will be very, very important for the Guardian ad Litem to have a clear statement about that.

You may remember that the judge who usually does Gary's permanency hearings is the most lax judge in two counties, at least with respect to court room procedure. From what people tell me, if the state is recommending termination, he will agree and instruct that the process get started. He may order the case plan goal to remain "emancipation" or he may order it changed to "adoption." Which he does may be influenced by what the GAL says. Either way, Gary gets adopted if and only if he wants to be.

I keep wondering what is likely to happen in court. Will everyone just agree on TPR and then move on? Will Will be there and sign voluntary release on the spot? Will the judge tell him he has to do it in 30 days after which they will start involuntary termination?

Perhaps Will will hear that part of the CPS recommendation includes the possibility of us adopting him. If he does, and he will if he shows for the hearing, will he change his mind? TPR in his mind was a legal move to get out of paying child support. Adoption is something else. That is someone taking away his kid, and he may not be happy about that. It would be consistent with his inconsistencies. I mean, this is the guy who said that he could not provide a home for Gary and that he would kidnap Gary if they put him in foster care.

I also don't know if the court will decide to do anything about his mother's parental rights. Gary hasn't seen her for a decade (or about). She has been no part of his life since he was two. Our state doesn't even have a current address for her.

In the long run I know what is going to happen. Gary is going to live here and be part of our family.

I don't however know what will happen in the hearing next week.


  1. In my not-so-humble opinion, they should NOT terminate parental rights unless Gary wants to be adopted. It seems to be foolish and stupid to create a legal orphan if he doesn't want to be adopted.

    Terminating parental rights would only give benefit to the parents (in excusing them from child support obligations) but would give nothing to Gary if an adoption isn't in his future.

  2. I don't disagree. The only tangible benefit for Gary would be that the state could/would give him permission to take driver's ed. Although he has expressed less interest in that recently.

  3. Hey there, just to let you know that I've been following this blog for a long, long time, and am constantly inspired by the story you have to tell. You show a very human side of parenting and fostering and I think that's incredibly admirable. Keep it up!

  4. I have to say I'm with FA on this one- it seems pointless to TPR if there is no waiting home nor if the child does not desire adoption.

    FYI- if TPR occurs it likely would benefit Gary in terms of 18-21 yr old support and college funding in case you didn't know. Wards of the state are evaluated differently when they age out of regular foster care than are those kids in foster care with bio parents who still have legal rights.

  5. I think the best thing about this situation is that your parenting has helped Gary handle this potentially painful situation with an amazing aplomb. From where I sit, whether Dad TPR's or not, the fact that he wants to could be devastating to a child. The fact that the state might not let him wouldn't make me feel any better if I was a teen. Gary's response to you really made me smile.


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