And yet, there seems to be no other choice in today’s story. Everything this person tried to do – failed. The kids are now 3 and 1. Mom was incarcerated, but has since been released. She contacted this woman 7 months ago and asked her to adopt the children. She tried to convince her that her kids need her. She went into social worker mode and asked her what her barriers to parenting were. She talked to the mom about substance abuse treatment options, housing support, financial support, etc. She told her that the best place for her kids is with her. She repeatedly reassured the mom that she on her team and wanted to help her. She told the mom that she has rights and that this case is not over yet – don’t give up. She tried everything she could think of to convince the mom to come back (she’s left the state). The mom called her from an unlisted number and wasn’t in an emotional space to hear all she tried to say. She was asked to call me back in a week (this woman was hoping maybe they could then continue the conversation) but the mom has gone no contact.
The permanency hearing is now coming up in 2 weeks. Because mom hasn’t been in contact with the Div of Child and Family Services (DCFS) now for 8 months, the Guardian Ad Litem is asking for reunification efforts to cease and the goal changed to adoption. This woman has woken up to the problems in the system and previously said she was unwilling to adopt them because she didn’t want to add further trauma to their lives – she sincerely wanted them to go back with their mom or be placed with relatives but a search for family on the mom’s side has been unsuccessful.
Now she is conflicted because she loves these kids but to be honest her feeling is that adopting just isn’t ethical at this point. She even decided to close her foster care license because she no longer wants to be involved in a system that tears families apart. She told herself that she’d just see this last case through. The problem is that these kids are going to be placed for adoption, no matter what she does. If she says no, then DCFS is going to start calling other foster homes in the region and find someone who will adopt them. Another home would be strangers, as she once was. But they also may not be the same ethnicity (the kids are Mexican and so is she). The 3 year old is established in her preschool and she has formed a relationship with her therapist. More to the point – this woman does love these children, cares deeply about their needs and tries her best to be trauma-informed and listen to adoptive voices. Realistically, she knows that she can never take their mom’s place. She knows that they will likely always have a gaping wound.
She knows that simply loving them is never going to be enough. That going will be hard, lifelong work on her part. She is honestly conflicted because she doesn’t want to be a further part of a system that is actively hurting them. But not adopting them feels like a cop-out. And the very idea of passing them onto a stranger feels devastating. None of this is okay. However, she got herself into this and she is going to do whatever she has to do on their behalf.