For the past several months...closer to the past year - I have been working very hard towards preparing to take in my 3 year old niece. She is in the foster care system..
Long story short: She was removed from my sister as a new born baby. Now she has been removed from the father, and it's looking like they will both likely lose their parental rights.
She has been staying with a friend of the father's. She has been well cared for and is happy. She's grown attached to her. The caregiver has her calling her "Mommy."
I did a background search on her and she has a criminal record of criminal impersonation, and theft, and back several years ago she got cited for not properly having a child in her care in proper car seat restraints...
I'm torn...because this woman really loves my niece. They've grown attached. But she never took the foster parent classes. Never got licensed. Never got the training that HAD she gone through - she would have KNOWN that the foster care system always tries to place children within the family first. And that if you are volunteering yourself to become a foster parent in any capacity, you are not magically the parent. You are there to care for the child temporarily. Yes sometimes it leads to adoption but that is not the goal of the courts. The courts WANT to reunify children with one or both of their parents in ALL cases WHENEVER possible. And if they cannot do so, next of kin is first in line...that would be me.
On the other hand, my niece has been with her for about two years now. The last year she has been her primary caregiver. I do worry about how she will adjust and is it in her best interest.
One thing that I will do is make sure she has a positive relationship with both of her parents within safe boundaries and parameter, and make sure she forms relationships with her relatives on both sides of the family. I'm not completely sure that this woman who is taking care of her will do the same thing....
Am I doing the right thing? Is it in her best interest to come with me? Or is it in her best interest not to be uprooted again...any and all opinions are welcome. The ball is in my court. I am the person the courts are looking at. I have worked so hard to make this a reality...
But the question of what I have or haven't done is irrelevant. The question is: What is in the best interest of the child...
"She has been well cared for and is happy. She's grown attached to her."
- that sounds good. I'd be inclined to think that the uprooting, especially from what you say is a happy environment, would be very painful and tragic for the little girl at this early and vulnerable stage in her development. If she's to come to you, I think it would be better to wait for a few years. Of course, you're free to involve yourself in her life as much as you see fit, especially if you have a view to taking her on eventually.
that sounds good. I'd be inclined to think that the uprooting, especially from what you say is a happy environment, would be very painful and tragic for the little girl at this early and vulnerable stage in her development.
Yes. But at the same time: She is being cared for by a woman with felony charges. She is around someone who associates as a "friend" of the man who got my sister pregnant at 13 years old (we are like the people we associate with usually...) and she shows no real intention of keeping her involved with her family. She has her for selfish reasons and wants to keep her for herself, not think about what her long term needs are...is it better to uproot her in the short term, or think about the long term?
I don't know...There is no real clear answer. That's why it's a hard decision to make. If i voluntarily step aside and let her stay where she is there's a real possibility she may not be able to adopt her either and then she gets looped back into the foster care system with whoever..
Also: My sister wants her with me. So there's that to consider too....
It seems that long term, she'd be much better off with you. I think that's the most important consideration. Her present carer sounds like a bit of a "fruit loops". The uprooting would only have to be done once, and then she would be settled with you. When you put it like that, for what it's worth, my opinion is that you should take her on sooner rather than later.
"[her present carer is] there to care for the child temporarily. Yes sometimes it leads to adoption but that is not the goal of the courts. The courts WANT to reunify children with one or both of their parents in ALL cases WHENEVER possible. And if they cannot do so, next of kin is first in line...that would be me."
- this sounds like a very sensible course of action.
I seem to remember you are dealing with your son's behavior problem. Is that true? How are you factoring that in?
RE: I seem to remember you are dealing with your son's behavior problem. Is that true?
Yes...my son is highly aggressive, with explosive anger at times. He would rival many foster kids...I have worked tirelessly to address it and it has worked...
RE: How are you factoring that in?
I have given this great consideration. It would be a disservice to her to bring her into a home where my son might potentially be dangerous to her. My son has made tremendous progress over the past several months. In many ways I can honestly say with confidence that if I can deal with him, I can deal with ANY kid. Being the fact that he and I have been through hell with his dad - his dad has taught him well...
My son has made so much progress in therapy that where he started showing as having PTSD, as did I, he and I are both now in remission and he is presenting normally and within the range of normal. This is not something that will always necessarily hold constant. There will always be times when we'll have to go back to the drawing board, and the cycle is likely to continue throughout the rest of his life. He is absolutely on the high risk end of the spectrum. However: All that being said I feel completely confident that I know how to manage the situation - any situation that may arise. I also think that he will benefit greatly from having another child around. They are still close enough in age that they can play together, and he is already talking about being, "protective" of her. This is not something I told him, it is something he realized on his own....
It will benefit both children - (who have both experienced trauma) to be in an environment where we're completely open about these things. We address things head on, and I am going to teach them both coping skills. Have no illusions - she is her mother's daughter and what i have since learned about my biological history is that we have a long line of genetic messes. My biological grandmother was/is a psychopath/sociopath and it is highly likely that my sister (her mother) is too, based on the behaviors that I've seen...Add to that the fact that my niece was drug affected in utero...I'm not at all blind to the situation I'm walking into. But that's just the thing. In many ways maybe because of my own past and background, I am THE best person to handle the situation. I'm completely up for the challenge with no blind folds on....but totally willing to fight the battle until the end.
Thinking about it, it sounds like this present care giver may be a narcissistic type: if so, she has to be "number 1" and would turn any custody dispute into a battle between you and her to "win" and remain no.1. These people have a strong tendency to damage or undermine the people around them deliberately, so I don't think they make good care givers in the long term.
I think it might be best to wait a bit until the authorities decide that the little girl needs to come to you, and then it becomes more impersonal and not just a battle for supremacy on her part.
I have seen that kids who get uprooted can blame themselves: they think they have been moved for doing something wrong, as they see adults as infallible. This is something you might need to watch out for and counteract.
best interst of the child is to keep them , if at all possible within the family. To reunite with biological family/parents or within the biological family. If that is not an option then a suitible family through the legal adoption process. Not someone who hijacks , illegally, manipulating means . I am not trying to doubt if she cares for the child but she essentially, kidnapped a child with out the legal provisions and safe guards.
I am a child who grew up in Foster care system, never adopted. from 2 grade til an adult I was in the states care. Most foster parents you want to believe have 'good intentions" when many have personal agendas, if you don't do it legally alot of very hurtful situations will arrive, not to mention have the child taken away , eventually. she can't legally provide medical, or education to her without being a legal guardian. Again, even as a legal guardian she is a caregiver, not the childs parent. She needs to be trained to understand this or will future harm the child emotionally as well as herself.
I think that the way you talk about it leaves the impression that your niece staying with this woman is bad for the child, which makes me wonder why you haven't firmly decided to remove her from a potentially toxic influence that will be bad for her in the long term.
At that young age kids are pretty resilient. They don't yet have social networks of friends/school/etc. that will be affected by "uprooting". The transition will set her back a bit developmentally, as she has to learn a new environment with new expectations. It will be hard on her, and hard on you. But it's not truly devastating. In the long run, having more robust family networks and long-term stability will matter more in her life. How much do any of us really remember from when we were three?
At the same time, be brutally honest about your own situation and how stable life with you will be. You've had your ups and downs, you've had and might continue to have relationship challenges. You've got another child who may resent the attention you give to the new addition, with all sorts of possible stressors and consequences. Are you financially ready to support another child as well as her current placement? Down the road you may face her biological parents wanting her back, likely at a time when it would be a more traumatic "uprooting". Be honest with yourself, and better yet - get friend(s) who know you to be brutally honest with you. Listen to them.
Only you can answer those questions.