The Legal Rights Of Siblings

This from someone with experience – If you are adopting a child or children in who have siblings being adopted into other homes, make sure you have a quality attorney, NOT one of the ones that are contracted with through the state. Know the laws in your state in regards to sibling rights post adoption. Your attorney needs to go over this in great detail. Sibling separation agreements, continued contact agreements, etc are just RECOMMENDATIONS and not legally binding, unless they are worded in a certain way. This means that even though they are telling you these things will have to be agreed to and take place in order to adopt, any adoptive parent can choose to cut contact without punishment – at any time – and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Don’t be like me. Don’t think that just because the agreements are there and someone is verbally telling you this has to be done is going to mean that it will prove legally binding. It may not. Don’t be ignorant like me. KNOW THE LAWS. Have an attorney who is well versed in these matters. And make sure that continued sibling contact is legally required and can be enforced. I learned a valuable lesson about this, but it may be too late and sadly at the expense of 3 children who shouldn’t have to be denied contact. 3 children who will carry scars and wounds because of my ignorance in this area. I don’t know – what the fuck was I thinking ? But undeniably, I fucked up. I preach and preach about us being educated and I failed to educate myself in regard what may possibly be the most important aspect of adoption. Don’t be like me. Don’t fuck this up. Make sure your kids and their siblings if they have been separated by adoption have legal rights to remain in contact with each other. Please. Don’t put your kids and their siblings in the situation my stupidity put mine in.

The truth is the best intentions in adoption often fall through. Adoptive parents can just say “it is not in best interests of our child” and get judge and court order to close contact. A common tactic is to move so far away, it’s no longer feasible to have physical contact. Even in the case of agreed to open adoptions, the intentions are often not followed through. Then, there is the less visible problem – if an adoptive parent does not want contact, the child is placed into an impossible situation. The child has to choose between loyalty to their adoptive parents or to their separated siblings – it’s a no win situation. When I became a non-custodial mother and my daughter was older, I provided her with a calling card so that she could call me at no charge, when doing so was not going to complicate her life with a step-mother and half and step siblings. She was in control.

These kids are human beings and should have the right to maintain contact with their siblings, at the very least, after adoption. It is increasingly known that genetic connections are better for the child than the loss of them.

Another woman shares her experiences –

I have played this game for 25 years with my daughter’s adoptive parents. I would suggest not pushing back at them at full force. The more you push the more they will close down. Tt’s not about twiddling your thumbs ….. it’s about playing the long game. Sigh. And I understand this as regards my daughter. It was very hard to be an absentee mother but now that she is in her mid-forties and her step-mother died quite a few years ago now, I am grateful I have managed to retain a good relationship, a loving relationship, with her. She often mourns her mom who died. I would never ever criticize the woman who raised her. That is totally misguided for anyone caught on the outside.

Reform work currently taking place in the state of Ohio seeks to establish the lawful connection for siblings in foster care. There is more work that needs to be done, so that the right to maintaining a connection isn’t terminated, if an adoption occurs.

Here is the view from a person who became separated – I read my sibling agreement contract. I was supposed to see three of my older siblings (the ones I lived in the house with before foster care) 3 times a year. I have no clue how it fell apart, but I never saw my siblings again – until I found my biological family at 17. We were all able to get together once last year after 15 years apart. Then again, I read the open adoption contract too and that also fell apart. I was supposed to know my family but it seems like nobody cared enough.

Charging Parents For Foster Care

I remember when I divorced my first husband, the issue of child support came up in court.  I had heard horror stories about unending conflict in child support issues.  I wanted none of it.  My ex had already told me he would never pay child support.  I believed him.  His attitude was if I wanted his support for our child I had to stay married to him.  In a weird turn of events, after leaving my daughter temporarily with her paternal grandmother for care while I tested myself to see if I was even able to drive an 18-wheel truck cross-country, my daughter ended up being raised by her dad.  Eventually, he re-married and she grew up in a yours, mine and ours family when they had a child together and she had already brought a child with her to the marriage.  I didn’t want to interfere in what I considered a good situation for my daughter – mindful of the old biblical story and the baby the kind almost cut in half to satisfy two women both claiming the child as their own.  Only recently, after over 40 years of believing this fantasy, my daughter told me it wasn’t such a good situation growing up there.  My heart still grieves to know that.

This is a bit of a digression but not really because today I have learned that when children are taken by the state and placed in foster care, the original parents become liable for child support to cover the costs of their children being placed into foster care.  It seems that everything this government does is stacked against families and intent on keeping people enslaved to poverty regardless of how hard they try to improve their lives.  Even though I lost much in not raising my daughter, I do not regret forgoing the constant conflict of fighting for child support.  I don’t know what the best answer is as regards responsibility – I suppose better human beings but sometimes the deck really is stacked against people in general.  It is so sad.

Most families in the child protective services system also interact with the child support enforcement system. A potentially important effect of child support enforcement on the duration of out-of-home foster care placement. Requiring parents to pay support to offset the costs of foster care results in delays of a child’s reunification with a parent or other permanent placement. While this is a short-sighted and unintended effect, longer stays in foster care are expensive for taxpayers.  Without a doubt, extended placements in foster care has consequences on a child’s well-being. When the policies and the fundamental objectives of public systems are viewed in limited perspective and inconsistently coordinated we all suffer.

The child protective services (CPS) system can be seen as a safety net of last resort. While removing children from their parents’ care is an extreme intervention, recent estimates suggest that in the US 6% of all children and 12% of black children will have experienced out-of-home care by the time they reach the age of 18. Most children and families with CPS involvement also interact with other social service systems that can have very different goals and models of administration and financing. This lack of coordination often leads to substantial, though unintended, negative consequences for both for the families involved and the taxpayers who pay for these services.

The scope of the child support enforcement system is generally limited to establishing and enforcing nonresident parents’ financial obligations to their children. In contrast, the CPS system is responsible for assuring child safety, permanency and well-being, so its scope and responsibilities extend well beyond financial resources. The scarcity of studies regarding CPS-child support interactions may reflect important differences in their policies and the goals of these programs or a limited recognition of the potential importance of their interaction, but research in this area has been hampered by the limited availability of relevant survey data and the technical challenges associated with the analysis of administrative data from separately managed systems.

Requiring parents to pay support results in a longer foster care spell and it definitely decreases the economic resources a separated parent needs to achieve the conditions CPS sets forth for reunification.  This would indicate that this policy is fiscally counterproductive.  And the reality is that there are low levels of collection and additional costs in seeking to enforce these child support payments.

Most children enter foster care due to neglect, rather than abuse, with low income an important risk factor for parents losing custody of their children.  Safely and quickly reunifying families is an important priority and it will reduce both disruption to children and the public costs of foster care.  I know personally how difficult it can be to be a single mother.  When I rejected child support as a very young woman, I was overly confident about my ability to provide for my self and my child.

The truth is children living in single-parent families are over-represented in the CPS system.  Child support can play a particularly critical role in the income packages of low-income single-parent families.  Some evidence suggests that increased child support may reduce the risk of child welfare involvement.  Historically, the government has often retained child support payments from low-income families receiving cash assistance to offset welfare costs, but in recent years policies have changed to allow more child support to be passed through to resident parents receiving assistance—making welfare and child support complements, rather than substitutes.

The change in policy to prioritize economic support to families over cost-recovery for government has not been extended to children in foster care. Federal guidance and state policies generally call for child support orders to offset government costs, rather than directly benefit children, when children are placed out of home.  Federal policy calls for child support previously directed from nonresident to resident parents to be redirected to the state, and, for those that do not have orders, new orders are established for both pre-placement resident and nonresident parents to cover the costs of foster care incurred by the state.