Monday, November 23, 2009

Update on Talking to Gary

In the car the other day I told him casually that I was going to make an appointment for his GAL to come talk to him about what he wants, "That way the judge will know what is important to you and you won't have to go to court."

I've decided that even though he is 17 I will be aggressive about making sure they have time together. In the past I just made sure they had each other's phone numbers and left it up to Gary. Once I get her here, I will get out of the way. Maybe she will even take him somewhere for fast food or something.

Anyway, I think that is the best I can do for him.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Asking What He Wants

So at the meeting a week or so ago the social worker (state) said that he had done all the paper work and that we would be informed about the TPR hearing. What discussions they may or may not be having with Gary's parents we don't know. Well, we do know that the address that previously work for his mother no longer does. The private agency is really trying to track her down to see if she will provide photos of Gary's siblings and tell him (again) the name of his genetic father. At this point Gary has not expressed much interest in meeting him, but he has expressed a great deal of interest in knowing more about his American Indian heritage.

When the agency worker visited last week she told Gary that the judge would want him at the hearing. At 17 the judge won't want to make a decision without knowing what he wants. Gary said that he hates going to court. The social worker suggested writing a letter, which Gary didn't seem enthusiastic about. I said that it was important to be sure to talk to his GAL (CASA worker) so that she could include his wishes in her report.

We tried to talk to him about he felt. He kept insisting that he didn't have any feelings about it one way or another. He didn't care. He will go so far as to say that if his dad doesn't want him, then that's fine. He doesn't actually say, "then I don't want him either" but it comes close. The agency worker and I both tried to communicate that it would be normal to have complex feelings, that he might feel one way now and a different way later, and that it was important for the judge to know what HE wanted.

In the car the other day I asked twice if he had decided what he wanted to tell the GAL. He changed subjects without really seeming to notice. I mean that he didn't seem to be trying to avoid the question. He didn't seem awkward. He just said something like, "I don't know her very well, not like I do the workers at the agency. They really are cool. Some of them remind me of [one of his MMA instructors]. They are a lot better than the state worker. Did you know that the state worker didn't even call me by my right name in the meeting?"

When I ask him about whether he wants to be adopted, he beams. He says he does, and then he will debate whether being adopted before his 18th birthday (and therefore being able to take driver's education and go to Judo class) would be worth giving up the financial benefit of staying with the agency. Right now when we shop for clothes (for instance) he just picks out what he wants because he knows we are going to be reimbursed. If we weren't going to be, he would care about price and it is just so fun not to care at all. He tends to decide that he would rather be adopted after he is 18. It is just so much easier.

We have, by the way, assured him that he is not a burden, that we can afford to buy him clothes, etc. He says he understands that. I think I understand what he is saying too. He actually have very modest needs for clothes. We don't let him go nuts, but he still experiences a kind of freedom picking out a shoe that is more comfortable and costs $10 more; something he wouldn't let himself do if we were paying.

Anyway, I am trying to think about his resistance to saying one thing or another about the TPR.

I think I get it. He wants to be wanted. He wants for his dad to fight the TPR. That's what he wants. Given that his dad is unlikely to do that he is protecting himself by saying that he doesn't care. Certainly he doesn't want to try to make a parent stay if that parent doesn't want him. This whole process started with his father telling him that he was going to initiate termination so he would have to pay child support.

I have mixed feelings about pushing him to make a statement to the GAL. On one hand, I think that at his age it is inappropriate to make decisions about his life without his input. On the other hand, maybe it is wrong to ask kids to make a formal statement saying they don't want to have their parents to be their parents. Certainly it is much easier for Gary to say that he wants us to adopt him (at some point) than to say anything at all about the TPR.

What I want out of the process is for his parents to be notified that we are going to adopt him if they don't make an objection. It would be hard for me to make such notification, given how difficult they both are to find -- not to mention the anxiety issues. Having the state do that feels right.

But past that? I don't know.

I also don't know, at all, if that advantage is really worth going through this. If his father follows his past pattern he will avoid responding, and that is going to be painful for Gary.

Monday, November 16, 2009

TPR, in case you were wondering

I asked for an update on the TPR process. This is what I know:

The state worker has finished the paper work and we will be told when the hearing is scheduled.

No one has been able to make contact with Gary's mother.

And that's all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Catch UP

So, still outrageously busy. There is just so much going on at work this year. I've been forbidding myself the blogosphere at work, which has really been helping. I work longer days and I WORK hard. However, it has the unintended consequence of leaving me really not wanting to sit at my laptop when I go home. All I want to do is crash and read trashy (not too trashy) novels. My Google Reader is now so full that facing it feels like another overwhelming work assignment, so I just don't do that either.

Things really will ease up soon, and for a while.

In the meantime, I am giving myself permission to post at the beginning of my work day. Here is what is going on:

  • Gary decided that he hated graphic design, because he got a C on one project. He decided then that he wasn't going to do any more work, get to the point where he was definitely getting an F, so the school would have to let him out to use the time as a study period. We talked about it and he confirmed with the school that since he got a B during the first quarter he was not going to fail and he had to stay in the class.
  • His social worker and PO are trying to get him off probation and have his juvenile record sealed/expunged when he turns 18. He is considering medical careers and no one will hire him if he is still on probation. I hope they succeed. Of course, the grade he is likely to get in Graphic Design will be a probation violation, so who knows. I am trying to stay out of that discussion because if he is lying to them about his grades I don't really want to know about it.
  • He told me, like it would be news, that he realized he has a problem with over-optimism. I was proud for not doing a spit take as I swallowed my tea and said, "really?"
  • He has found a martial arts instructor who currently doesn't have a space to teach. Gary has talked to him and volunteered to help him find a space, set up programs in school, recruit students, and teach classes. He envisions this turning into a partial ownership of the business.
  • He found a Judo class that is actually in our town. I am so very pleased about that. It is run by a volunteer organization, the instructor really impressed me, and the classes are only $30/month. I think it is safer than MMA, and being a student is so much more appropriate than trying to help run a business. I want to get him signed up and going on it before things progress too far with the instructor above. Gary wants to get going on it because with all his background he already knows most of what they teach and he needs to get training for the junior Olympics where he will defeat everyone and receive many medals.
  • The social worker can't sign the permission form for the Judo class because it includes a waiver of liability for death. He (social worker) has sent it to his supervisor who will discuss it with the program manager. The social worker tells me he supports it but doesn't know what will happen. I am considering preparing an appeal to the governor. (Actually, I don't know who I appeal to).

  • Brian is doing well. It looks like he had the flu, though it was relatively mild. I hid myself in the bedroom and avoided catching it. I'm beginning to think it has peaked at our campus. I hope so. Something like 20 percent of our students have been identified as having flu. By the time we know how many of them had H1N1 it will be long over.
  • I started a new treatment for anxiety. It seems to be working. I realized a certain appointment is coming up. A month ago thinking about it being so close would make my heart race, my head feel light, and my hands and feet tingly. This time I just felt really nauseous. That's improvement and I have only been on the new meds for 3 weeks. So, yay me.
And for those who are interested in the female troubles:
After seven weeks I am spotting again, very lightly. The physician said that it would take 3 months before we knew if the procedure worked, so I have no idea if this means anything. Maybe it will stop again. Maybe wearing a panty liner every day is just my fate for the next five years. I don't know. The only other medical intervention they can offer me is removal of the offending organ and at the moment I would have to sigh deeply and say that the benefit of NOT having to wear a panty liner every day for five years probably doesn't outweigh the expense, pain, and risks of the surgery. Still, it irritates.

And now back to work...