I was born to be wild ’cause my daddy was an outlaw in a family of outlaws.
True or False, are you pre-destined to be good or bad based on your family genetics?
How about taking it a step further; are abused and maltreated children better off if they remain with their own families, instead of having them taken away and shipped off to the mixed bag of foster care?
USA Today ran a front page story and said it is overwhelmingly better off to leave these children in their own family, even if the family gets little or no help at all.
Maybe, maybe not. I’m a volunteer Guardian ad Litem and have handled cases where foster care was the only thing keeping an abused kid off the street.
Unfortunately, when these kids are placed in the system under the control of DCF the final outcome is usually less than ideal. They might eventually be reunified with their family, but most times the family still has their own issues to deal with. Just because the family/parent was required to complete a case plan to get their kids back doesn’t mean it solved all their problems.
Because of drugs or being totally dependent on the abuser, the parent might not even do a case plan. Then the child is destined for the foster care system until they age out, unless they can get adopted. And the age of the child when they enter into foster care will impact their chances on being adopted.
As you can see, there are choices, but not necessarily good ones.
You have to be kidding me, right?
One thing the GAL program has taught me is to not make any pre-judgments and get as many facts as possible before I make any recommendation to the court. There are a lot of people to talk with to get the ‘story;’ other family members, teachers, doctors, neighbors, case manager, therapist, law enforcement, parents and the most important, the kids themselves.
Sounds pretty simple right? Talk with everybody, put all the facts down on paper with the pros on one side and cons on the other; tally them up, and then tell the judge based on your statistical analysis where you think the kids should be placed. How hard can that be?
What if you found out someone was less than truthful when answering your questions? I know, shocking right? If an abused kid is being told by the abuser they will be physically removed from the home and taken to live with strangers if they tell anybody, how forthcoming do you think they are apt to be?
If an 11 year old girl is having sex with her mother’s live-in boyfriend, is that horrific enough for her to spill the beans? You would think so, right? More times than not, it remains their hidden secret and it doesn’t come out until there is physical evidence.
What if the uneducated, unemployable mother is totally dependent on this fine upstanding citizen? What if the mother has two other children younger than 11, and if they remain in the house will be subject to the same abuse?
Lovely, just get the kids out of the damn house then.
But USA Today said….
I know, the study said all things considered, the kids will turn out better if they are allowed to remain with the biological family/mother. And trust me, when you read about some of these under-aged girls in group foster homes being pimped out for prostitution, you can see there are no easy choices.
And the sad thing is, this child just happened to get the short-straw; born to the wrong family.
Good or bad however, these kids are our future and there are no throw-away kids.
You make the call
When you have gone through the entire process, the family has done absolutely everything they were required to do in the case plan, and they want their children back; but you just know these kids will have a less than 1% chance of being successful in life if you put them back in the home; what would you recommend? You will be asked……
You have seen the family structure and dynamics and it is certainly nothing you have ever experienced or witnessed before (ie, it is some kind of messed up), but if you feel the kids will be relatively safe, do you tell the judge to close the case and send the kids home?
Did I say there were no easy choices?
We just do the best we can, right?
Why me? Why not. It is certainly not glamorous, but probably one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done. If you have a Guardian or Casa program in your area I would encourage you to consider being a volunteer. The kids need a voice.