I don't know why I'm still doing it.
Whenever I have had foster placements in the home, I'm in the habit of "stalking" them online. I find their Facebook accounts and browse whatever they make public. I Google them regularly to see if their name pops up anywhere -- some of my kids' parents have been in towns where the local online paper posts a "blotter" of recent arrests. I search (less often) for the names of the people I know they are spending time around to see if anything shows up there.
Usually, after the kids are gone, I stop doing this. I guess I'm still doing it because M's not gone. But, by that logic, I will be stalking her parents forever.
I was never able to find much on M's biological father. He's not on Facebook, which is usually the best source. I found the occasional report of his arrests, but they were all in the past and things we knew about through other channels.
M's mother, though? Whew, boy, does that woman need to learn how to lock down her Facebook privacy settings. So, I keep checking. I'll admit to being curious if she would say anything more about M. She posted newborn pics and gushed about her occasionally early in the case, but nothing since the surrender.
I need a name for M's mother. (Birth mother? First mother? Biological mother? I'm still struggling with the terminology.) Let's call her Kayla.
The last time I looked, I read a conversation between her and another woman in which it was pretty clear that M's mother is lying to the people around her about what has happened with her children. The other woman asked about M's oldest half-sister, age 8. I'll call her Neveah. Rights to Neveah were terminated in the summer of 2013 and her adoption (by her foster family) was finalized this past fall. I've had contact with that foster mom -- we tried briefly to arrange a sister-meeting -- and Neveah has some pretty heavy emotional scars from the experiences that brought her into care and from the time she spent waiting to see if her mother could pull it together. (In the end, the sister-meeting didn't happen because Neveah's therapist didn't think she could handle it right now. I told Neveah's adoptive mother that the door is open whenever she's ready; M is too little to care right now.) So, Neveah has not lived with Kayla in over 3 years. When the other woman asked about her, though? Kayla said Neveah goes to an after-school care program and then will go spend the night with "my cousin" while Kayla has "a party at my house every night."
Kayla also made an off-hand mention of having been in jail, it seemed recently. She lives in a town where at least some arrest records are online, so I searched for her. Remember, she surrendered her rights in July. In August, she was arrested for a DUI. In October, she was arrested for burglary and theft--I think that's when the jail time happened. On Thanksgiving night, she was picked up for a parole violation. She is spiraling downward out of control -- again -- and I can't help wondering where it will end. At the moment, there is no plan for ongoing contact between her and M; Kayla is just too unstable. But I struggle to know how much of this to document in order to share with M when she's older, especially if it turns out that Kayla doesn't ever become someone I'm comfortable introducing into M's life. (In our state, M will have access to any and all available information about family members when she's an adult. At that time, she can choose for herself whether she wants to meet Kayla if she hasn't met her already.) I want to be able to honestly tell M as much as I can understand about why her mother chose to stop fighting for her; I want to be able to give M as much of her biological history as possible; I don't want to be lining up "evidence" to prove that Kayla doesn't "deserve" M or anything like that. I tend to err on the side of "document everything" probably because that's been my standard foster-care M.O. I guess I can do the editing and cherry-picking when it's time to share. Just wish I had some more good things to add into the mix.