Friday, September 25, 2009

Where we are

I wrote to the state worker today to see if he could tell me anything about what was going on in the TPR process. I got back a very short email saying he was writing a report, needed run it by Gary to be sure he got his facts straight, had the parents' addresses, and was going to be writing them each letters telling them what was going on. He also said that should pass on any messages that Gary wanted to send.

After reading that and reading a bunch of stuff on-line about the TPR process I realized that I was pretty confused. I know all sorts of stuff about it, but I don't know what the real process is.

Like, where I work, if you were going to be denied tenure or fired for cause, you would be able to resign at any point in the process. In the history of the college some people have been given an opportunity to retire early with certain benefits. People who are not going to get tenure are sometimes given a chance to resign before any document saying they shouldn't be tenured is put in their file. The handbook is is full of information official notification, procedures, time-restrictions, appeals processes, but nothing says, "if the dean at the time is not a jerk, you will know this is coming and you will have plenty of time to resign before anything official happens." That this is the case is both good and bad. It could allow a bad dean to manipulate people. On the other hand, people are allowed to resign. We can't insist that they go through reviews and hearings if they just want to quit.

So I don't know if the letter the social worker is talking about is official notification or if it is parallel to the dean telling someone, "we're about to initiate this whole thing. If you prefer you can just call it quits now."

I find the whole thing heart-breaking.

I emailed the social worker back and confirmed that Gary was available the day he wanted to talk to him. I also told him that if it was appropriate I wanted him to tell his parents that Roland and I did not ever want to be an obstacle to a relationship between Gary, his parents, siblings and other relatives.

I asked Gary if he wanted to send anything and he laughed and said, "You suck." He imagined that for a while, enjoying imagining a scene in which a social worker is being professional and explaining things and then say, "Oh yes, I have a message here from Gary. He says, 'you suck.'"

I didn't pass that one on. I also was careful not to be disapproving. I told him before that he could express whatever emotions he was having. Wanting to tell your parents who have hardly paid you any attention in years that they suck is not an unreasonable emotion.

Well, I have to leave for a required training. I'm going to publish this though I am not sure that I got around to saying whatever it was I was intending to say.


  1. TPR in our state is much more complicated than that. Typically, it requires abandonment of the child by the parents (no monetary support or physical contact for 6 months) and then the parents are sent a notification of intent to pursue TPR. They then have the opportunity to respond. If they respond and say no, that's all they have to say. It immediately forces DSS to start working toward reunification again, and to either restart or rework a family plan. If the parents agree to sign the plan, it negates pursuing TPR for the lenght of that plan (typically 6-12 months). If the parents refuse to sign the plan or don't acknowledge the original notice of intent to pursue TPR, then the state can go ahead and serve the parents with the date/time of the court date where the TPR proposal will be heard. If they show up, they'll be given attorneys and the fight begins. If DSS has grounds, then a trial will happen. If DSS does not have grounds or the parents argue that they were denied reasonable assistance to work their plan, then the request to pursue TPR is denied.

    In our state, the request to pursue TPR simply means NOT that TPR is going to happen,b ut that the DSS wants to change the child's permanency plan to something other than reunification (TPR with adoption as end goal, TPR with emanicipation as end goal, TPR with permanent foster care or guardianship as end goal). After the goal is changed, then there is like 60-90 days for an appeal to be filed (by the parents). If that passes, then there is normally a TPR trial, and the judge looks at whether or not TPR is appropriate. For most teens, TPR is not granted in our area unless there is a) a suitable adoptive family waiting (preferably one that has had placement of the child) b) relative or close family friend willing to assume care of the child and who needs TPR in order to add the child to medical benefits, etc c) the child is nearing 18 and wants to be free of parental ties so that he/she will qualify for the scholarships and grants of higher education that are avialable to high school graduates who were legal orphans at the time of graduation.

    Or so we understand....LOL nothng is ever quite certain inthe system, is it?

    TPR around here is hard to get- the parents have a lot of rights, if they choose to use them, which most do.

  2. Around here, TPRs have become much easier to get. We've been told that if a child is in care for 2 (cumulative) years then they are required to seek TPR and from the adoption stories I've heard, in order to stop it I think parents have to be able to REALLY show that they've already made huge steps and are only a few months away from being ready to parent again.

    Basically, I think that if you'd had your last court occurrence here, Gary would already be ready for adoption.

    I find that I'm still sad though to think that a kid whose father has been there for him in the past is facing a situation where his father sounds ready to let him go. How can anyone do that to a teen?


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