Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reunification isn't Always Pretty


I love L and O's caseworker. I really do. I think she truly has their best interests in mind and I can see that it's frustrating her that there is no "great" choice for where they should go. Mom has a long way to go on her case plan and they've been here nearly a year. CW is getting pressure to go ahead and move them to a relative who could become a permanent placement if Mom doesn't make it. She doesn't want to move them there, because that relative is on Dad's side and she doesn't trust that they will support reunification with Mom. Mom has burned all the bridges with her own side of the family, so there are no placement options there and no hope of ongoing support from them once the kids are returned home.

Dad has been denied as a placement. He's been given a case plan to work, though, and making progress on it could cause the court to reconsider. He won't do it. He keeps telling CW that it's too hard, too expensive, not fair. (He doesn't give her details, though, just that it will cost him $10,000 to take his court-ordered parenting classes. Which are actually offered for free in several places near him. Hmmm.)

She came to our house yesterday and said she was required to ask L two questions and document her answers. I could tell by the way she phrased it that she didn't like it.

Question 1: If you could choose right now to go to Mommy or Daddy, which would you pick?

Question 2: While Mom is finishing up the work she needs to do, would you rather stay here or go to Paternal Aunt? 

What kills me (and also, I think, kills CW) is that it didn't really matter what she said. Regardless of her answer, they are probably going to transition to Paternal Aunt with weekend visits during the last few months of the school year, with an eye to moving them there as soon as school's out for the summer. So....we're asking for her input, but it will be ignored? I know she's only 8, but this seems like a really awful thing to do to her. What if she said she wanted to go to Daddy and stay here until then? It's not going to happen. Neither of those is going to happen. Why are we presenting her with choices that she doesn't actually have?!

L couldn't answer question 1. She wants to be with both of them. I think she knows as well as we do that whichever one she goes to will probably cut off all contact with the other. Way to make your child take sides, folks! Dad has convinced her that he's ready for them and just waiting for "the paperwork", so she wants to go there til Mom is ready. Mom needs her help, though, so she wants to go back there as soon as she can.

I guess we got lucky with question 2. She'd love to go to Paternal Aunt! Paternal Aunt is her best friend! Can she go today? O doesn't have a clue who Paternal Aunt even is, by the way, and I've never heard L mention her name (even when she was going through the nightly litany of all the people she missed during her first month or so here).

CW and I are both still afraid that Paternal Aunt will not maintain the relationship with Mom. She lives even further from Mom than I do (and the visits are an hour from my house), so maintaining contact is going to be very difficult. Why would she put in that kind of effort so that her brother can lose all contact with his kids?

It's all so very, very sad and frustrating. I want to yell at Mom and Dad and Paternal Aunt; I want to tell all of them to grow up and stop using these children as pawns to hurt each other. But I'm not fighting the move because I have no grounds to do so, other than feeling like it's all just going to be awful. It is going to be awful, they're going to lose contact with some bio family, but they aren't going to be in danger. They will be safe and loved by Paternal Aunt and her family, so I can't argue with the move. It's no different than all the kids out of the system whose parents go through a nasty divorce. I just think it sucks.

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