We’ve been slowly getting stories out of the kids. I’ve also been Facebook stalking anyone from their immediate and extended family in order to pull information to keep for the kids once they are older. Once the kids realized there is no hope of going back with their parents (TPR was in June) and no reason to protect them any longer, they have been slowly sneaking in stories here and there. Sometimes I don’t have time to delve into it when they pepper it into conversation and so we revisit it later.
The kids talked about their parents lying to the judge that they had cleaned up their house. The kids said that there was stuff from floor to ceiling and that they slept on sofas or the floor. They never had bedrooms at their parents’ apartments. At one apartment they stayed in the attic. One time they stayed in the basement. They said that their dad has tattoos all over his head and arms, but that they would go weeks without water. And their parents did not have a car. They said that both of their parents smoked and they let them watch TV all day. The case worker said that there were always shady people around.
As we still wait for contact from our county case worker who has gone MIA for the last week and a half, I wonder about the resources for birth families. On Monday the kids will have been in our care for four weeks. We have had a referral for family counseling (I think, no evaluation planned) and we have an evaluation for intensive counseling for our oldest daughter. But the county has not been out to visit our home since we had placement. Our agency’s hands are tied without the permission of the county for things like the therapy. We do not have the necessary paperwork to take them with us to Canada, but we do not have a respite family in place because we were told by the county that they would rather us take the kids along. We do not have copies of the foster placement letter or the court order granting us educational rights. We have been proactive with our agency and when that failed I literally called the county case worker and left her a message every two hours on Thursday and Friday. Our case manager with our agency is going to contact the county supervisor tomorrow but STILL! I don’t feel like it should be this hard. And if we are a well educated, top/middle two-person income family that cannot get through the red tape, how can these families! I don’t understand.
Are they actually getting the help they need or are they thrown back to their regular lives with added stress of paperwork and classes without any way to get there? Are we really helping these young, poor parents who do not have the resources to raise their children or are we giving them more problems without a solution? I don’t know how the county case worker deals with the birth parents. I do know that she is the one that has visited the home. But if she’s as effective in these homes as she’s been with us, where does that put these birth parents?
Also, how can we do a better job of preventing these situations? Their mom works at McDonald’s and doesn’t have a car. Their dad is on disability (still not sure why). Mom was 18 when she had her first, now she’s 28 and pregnant with her fourth child. What can we teach in schools that can better prepare people for parenthood and making budgets? Or will we always just accept that this is going to happen, that there will be people that do not have any hope of making ends meet and budgeting their time/money so that their kids will be taken away from them? I don’t want to accept that this has to happen. Especially because in my area, it seems to mainly be these young, poor families that are losing their kids to foster care. I know lots of programs for homeless adults/youth that help people get their feet back on the ground and working reasonable jobs. Maybe we need more of that for everyone. Maybe we need better schools that won’t let kids graduate just because they show up. Maybe we need to raise the minimum wage. Or maybe having more money won’t fix these problems. I don’t know. But I still feel like this is unacceptable. I think that we are failing these low income families who have not known any better their entire lives.