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Foster to adopt questions


DawnM
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PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE!  

 

Most of you know I have had a foster child for the past 8 months (although he was removed 18 months ago and has been in foster care).   They sent him here because we are an adoptive resource.   They knew it would most likely lead to permanent removal.

We are now going to court in a couple of weeks and termination of parental rights.    She WILL flip out.   

1. If she decides to contest it and go to trial, is an attorney provided for her or does she have to pay for one?  

2. If one is provided, would it be her current attorney?

3. Could she tell her not to even try or does she have to represent her regardless?

 

 

 

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Since this is through foster care, she will have a lawyer paid for if she can not afford one of her own.  Usually the same one she has had, but she could request a different one.   The lawyer will likely advise her of the best course of action, but is also required to fight the termination if the client wants to fight it.

 

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1 minute ago, Ottakee said:

Since this is through foster care, she will have a lawyer paid for if she can not afford one of her own.  Usually the same one she has had, but she could request a different one.   The lawyer will likely advise her of the best course of action, but is also required to fight the termination if the client wants to fight it.

 

 

Do you know how long the trial lasts?

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6 minutes ago, DawnM said:

 

Do you know how long the trial lasts?

Totally depends on the case, number of witnesses, and willingness of the bio parent to fight. I wouldn’t expect more than two weeks tho, tops, and that’s in an iffy situation. By the time you get to this point, the record is often overwhelming. My friends’ hearings were over in 1-2 days.

Edited by Sneezyone
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13 minutes ago, DawnM said:

 

Do you know how long the trial lasts?

I have seen them as short as an afternoon or up to several days.  The decision may or may not be made immediately.   Then the parent (s) have the right to appeal and most do that.

Sadly, this is another long piece in the long process if foster case adoptions.  I would not want quick and easy ones, but it is so hard.

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26 minutes ago, Ottakee said:

I have seen them as short as an afternoon or up to several days.  The decision may or may not be made immediately.   Then the parent (s) have the right to appeal and most do that.

Sadly, this is another long piece in the long process if foster case adoptions.  I would not want quick and easy ones, but it is so hard.

 

I can't post too much, but her own lawyer just sent her the Conditions For Return letter and NONE of the conditions have been met in the past 18 months.   Not even one.   But she doesn't understand the letter and in her mind, she has met all the conditions so this isn't real and it will all come out in court that everything is ok.

It is so hard to watch.

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31 minutes ago, Pen said:


Parental rights termination legal procedures could be a matter of hours in a single hearing or of years with multiple hearings along the way
 

 

 

We go to court next month.   Termination of Parental rights will be filed at that time.  Are you saying it could last another several years?   Even with overwhelming damning evidence that she should not be granted her child?    

 

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Just now, DawnM said:

 

We go to court next month.   Termination of Parental rights will be filed at that time.  Are you saying it could last another several years?   Even with overwhelming damning evidence that she should not be granted her child?    

 

It probably won't, but it's possible.  Generally situations that stretch out years involve multiple fathers (legal because married to mom, biological, etc) OR they involve parents who meet most of the conditions for return but screw up on 1-2 of them and get an extension.

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1 minute ago, DawnM said:

 

We go to court next month.   Termination of Parental rights will be filed at that time.  Are you saying it could last another several years?   Even with overwhelming damning evidence that she should not be granted her child?    

 

Given what you’re saying about the evidence, it is HIGHLY unlikely that it lasts several years. In the states I’m familiar with, 18 months is the outside of what’s allowed as far as languishing in care for kids under 5.

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It can take years if she appeals.

Or her lawyer can talk her into a voluntary surrender and it could be over in court that day. All 3 of my foster-adopted kids had parents who surrendered at the last minute to avoid a trial and in order to get a yearly photo/ update letter (it’s a “carrot” given by DSS here to encourage surrenders instead of TPR trials).

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13 minutes ago, hippiemamato3 said:

TPR procedures can take a long time, and the TPR hearing could be scheduled months away. After it's done, she can and likely will appeal. That can take more time - years even. Her lawyer will absolutely defend her even if it appears to you that there is no reason to do so. 

The last paperwork sent to her on how she has met NONE of the benchmarks, came to her from HER lawyer.   So, if her lawyer will defend her now, she would have to change her story or show evidence that the mom has changed drastically.

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8 minutes ago, Hilltopmom said:

It can take years if she appeals.

Or her lawyer can talk her into a voluntary surrender and it could be over in court that day. All 3 of my foster-adopted kids had parents who surrendered at the last minute to avoid a trial and in order to get a yearly photo/ update letter (it’s a “carrot” given by DSS here to encourage surrenders instead of TPR trials).

 

Ah, ok, that makes sense.   I will try to talk to the DSS worker in the next week or so.

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The lawyer doesn’t need to change the story/evidence, she just needs to perform her function on behalf of her client. Just like a public defender in a criminal case who knows their client broke the law.

It really does sound unlikely that your case will be drawn out for very long, but it’s a good idea to be prepared for the possibility.  I do hope it all works out well and quickly!

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1 hour ago, DawnM said:

 

We go to court next month.   Termination of Parental rights will be filed at that time.  Are you saying it could last another several years?   Even with overwhelming damning evidence that she should not be granted her child?    

 


court is highly unpredictable  - I don’t know any situation  that took “several” years, but 1-2 years yes. 
 

what the “overwhelming” evidence is can be looked at differently by different judges

As a former foster parent I know of ~ 3 parent’s parental rights termination hearings that went on for around two years iirc   - otoh I know people where it was done very quickly

For my son, I stayed out of the courts’ process to extent possible - had I been going it would have required many disruptive out of state trips. Court hearings are not  even guaranteed to occur on date expected. Even in pre-Covid times, delays and rescheduling is common and that itself can be a reason for it to take longer.

if you join a Foster -Adoption group for governing state you may get a much better sense of what to expect there currently  - all the situations I have personal experience of were in West coast states, and none more recently than around 5 years ago, whereas I believe you are on East coast and that plus 2020 could be totally different - maybe CV19 would help to decrease time idk

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For our case....adoption to permanent guardianship.

DD14 came to us at 5mo (she was removed from parents at birth). At 18mo they started permanency hearings. The judge gave the parents 3 more months to meet goals. At apx 21 months we met again in court to check in, and at that time it was determined there was enough evidence to start the final termination of parental rights trial. The next hearing was a month later, instead of the prior 3 month intervals. At the start of the trial, the parents decided to give us permanent guardianship which is just as binding as an adoption in our state. (DD14 is biologically my great-niece). We finalized her guardianship before she turned 2yo.  The process for us would have been the same if we were doing an adoption, if they didn't surrender her to us that day, we were told to expect a 1 day trial. 

One thing that helped speed things up, was that the parents kept lying to the judge. The judge kept catching bio-dad's lies about a job and calling him out on them. The bio-mom was caught hanging out with someone she wasn't supposed to spend time with and denying it. He is a convicted predatory sex offender, so bio-mom's judgement was shown to be compromised.  Since they never had the baby in thier care, there wasn't abuse....it was just a lack of priorities in parenting choices. They both had minimal things to do to get her back, they easily could have achieved them in the 3 months, they just chose to try excuses instead of doing the work.  My niece needed to attend counseling, not hang out with specific people, maintain a job and have housing. They both had jobs and an apartment when the process started, my niece just needed to attend counseling and stay away from specific people. They broke up and the bio dad moved away from our area, he didn't bother getting a job and moved into his mom's house. The trial could have changed direction at pretty much anytime, if my niece would have gone to counseling and stayed away from SOs. She would have been given custody. If her bio-dad got a job in his new town, he would have been given custody. 

 

 

 

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Are you on speaking terms with the bio mom? I suppose it is too much to ask to appeal to her sense of reasonableness that this child needs a stable and loving home and you and your Dh want to be that home for him.  And yes, you can offer a yearly picture as a carrot.  I have seen that work....I think it leaves the bio parent a small shred of dignity somehow.  

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The longest I know of it taking was 4 years.  But that was a married middle class white couple with a private attorney who just kept physically abusing the kids, but meeting every other goal, all children were over 30 months old.

And the shortest was with my now 3 year old.  TPR granted at the hearing at 6 months old, we'd had since release from the hospital. 6 weeks later adoption was finalized.

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9 hours ago, Scarlett said:

Are you on speaking terms with the bio mom? I suppose it is too much to ask to appeal to her sense of reasonableness that this child needs a stable and loving home and you and your Dh want to be that home for him.  And yes, you can offer a yearly picture as a carrot.  I have seen that work....I think it leaves the bio parent a small shred of dignity somehow.  

This would not be a good idea at all

Edited by Melissa in Australia
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1 hour ago, Scarlett said:

Are you on speaking terms with the bio mom? I suppose it is too much to ask to appeal to her sense of reasonableness that this child needs a stable and loving home and you and your Dh want to be that home for him.  And yes, you can offer a yearly picture as a carrot.  I have seen that work....I think it leaves the bio parent a small shred of dignity somehow.  

 

She is not reasonable.   Not even a little bit.

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4 hours ago, DawnM said:

The last paperwork sent to her on how she has met NONE of the benchmarks, came to her from HER lawyer.   So, if her lawyer will defend her now, she would have to change her story or show evidence that the mom has changed drastically.

They will look for things the state did wrong, support mom didn't get, a lawyer who didn't adequately fight for her, etc. She may be given another lawyer for the appeals process if this one isn't good at her job. 

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It varies a lot.  If it has been more than a year and they have not met any of the requirements than I would expect it to be quick.  It's common around here for them to strike a deal to give up parental rights in exchange for a set amount of contact.  Common two letters and pictures a year from foster family to bio.  

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1 hour ago, Scarlett said:

Are you on speaking terms with the bio mom? I suppose it is too much to ask to appeal to her sense of reasonableness that this child needs a stable and loving home and you and your Dh want to be that home for him.  And yes, you can offer a yearly picture as a carrot.  I have seen that work....I think it leaves the bio parent a small shred of dignity somehow.  

I would worry that anything that could look remotely like pressure or bribery could be taken the wrong way by the courts.  

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Hilltopmom said:

DDS suggests the photo/ letter as terms of surrender, not the foster parent directly. 

I was responding specifically to Scarlett's suggestion that Dawn call and do it herself.

In our case, which was really different, I admit, I went with the social worker and showed my child's grandmother/adoptive parent photos and talked about our family, and how we pictured him fitting in, but I still didn't ask her to sign TPR.  It was only after I left that that was brought up. 

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2 hours ago, rebcoola said:

It varies a lot.  If it has been more than a year and they have not met any of the requirements than I would expect it to be quick.  It's common around here for them to strike a deal to give up parental rights in exchange for a set amount of contact.  Common two letters and pictures a year from foster family to bio.  

This has been my experience with friends/family in flyover states. The state moved quickly with little kids and gave a little more grace with older kids who had established parental relationships.

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6 hours ago, DawnM said:

 

We go to court next month.   Termination of Parental rights will be filed at that time.  Are you saying it could last another several years?   Even with overwhelming damning evidence that she should not be granted her child?    

 

We have two sets of friends who each spent 3 years adopting their sets of foster kids even though the bio parents were severely abusive/neglectful and the extended bio families were either so uninterested they asked the courts to place the kids with the fosterparents or who were such bad options they stated in court they would allow an abusive bio-parent (who put one of the children in a coma in infancy) access to the child if they had custody. One set of kids is in their early teens now and the other is 4. 

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