DCS Adopt/they didn't TPR & allow us adopt thru them
We obtained physical custody of our great niece, a severe abuse baby. Were told that AFTER the "severe abuse finding" that the state would TPR & we could adopt baby after becoming a "foster home." We got physicals, had physicals for our three children, TB tests, prepared the house according to foster care qualities, signed up for PATH classes, arranged babysitters, etc, then when the judge gave the decision, she did NOT TPR, even though it was declared severe abuse against mom, and dependency neglect against dad. She gave us custody, but now in order to adopt we will have to spend thousands on attorneys fees to TPR and to adopt her. She also has a type of minor spina bifida, and is " severe abuse child" & would "usually" qualify for an adoption subsidy, I'm told. We don't even care about the subsidy, however she could get social security benefits because my husband is retired, but ONLY if she's adopted by us. Is there anything we can do? This child is less than one yr. old, and the parents still get visitation that we have to supervise once monthly. We were shocked! Can't believe it turned out like this. Can anyone suggest what we might do?
they didn't tpr, but gave you custody...and then what? just backed out of the case? that's insane. i hope someone here will have an answer for you!
That is EXACTLY what they did. The case worker came yesterday and said they are "out of it now." She brought a copy of the judges' order with her, since we hadn't even seen it yet. She said that it is up to us now to hire attorneys to TPR and to adopt if we still want to. But that "temporary custody" means until she's 18, so not to worry about it.
i'm absoultely floored.
nevermind....i just saw what state you live in on your profile. i take it back...i'm not floored. the system in tn is VERY broken. but it is still INSANE. i am sorry!
feel free to pm me if you want to complain some more.
Sounds like they are trying to give you guardianship or somehow make it a relative adoption so that the state won't have to give you a subsidy or give you the medical benefits any other foster child would receive. First I would find out exactly what your status is: is it guardianship, foster care, adoptive placement or what?

Then I would contact some sort of foster care parenting group who could help or point you to some legal council that would help pro bono (free). There are a lot of groups that help foster parents and especially relatives trying to get their kids from or though the foster care system.

Your gn should also have some sort of independent representation like a CASA, GAL or AAL? You need to get them involved more and speak to them to represent your gn's best interests.

Also, even if you have guardianship at some point (in my state I think it's 1 year) you can go back to court to have it changed to adoptive placement and eventually adopt your great niece. The adoption subsidy you would recieve then is federal, it has nothing to do with the state, the cw, the dept or the judge. You would also be able to get medical benefits like medicaid for your adoptive child until they are at least 18 and since there are preexisting medical conditions you should even be able to get a higher than standard adoption subsidy.

Please don't let them railroad you or scare you by saying they will move her!
The transfer of custody order says that we have "temporary legal custody." She did have a GAL appointed, but he frankly seemed to be all too agreeable with what DCS' attorney wanted. There was a CASA vol. in the courtroom only very briefly on the final day of hearings, and we were never introduced to her, and the judge said she was just there to observe.
I went to DHS today and had her Medicaid transferred over to our names, since we were told she would continue to get that if we did. (we don't qualify for it)
The worker there applied for Families First (child only) for her, and she will get $140 a month, and the state will go after the parents for child support now. I know they aren't going to want to pay it, so maybe they'll decide to volutarily surrender once they find out they will HAVE to pay or go to jail. I will look into local groups as you've suggested, for advice on what to do next. Thank you for your advice and support!
There was some severe break down in communication here...you were told they WOULD tpr, but that's never a guarantee. Until it's been done, you should always be prepared for the biological parent to resume physical custody. Basically, you were fostering the child. It's very unprofessional that they told you otherwise.
I agree with PP about your state system is broken. I'm sorry you are going through this but, you may have to get your own attorney. You could try your state ombudsmen for help.
Our niece's original sw wouldn't talk with us at all when I asked about adoption, but then her supervisor took over the case to "free up" the original sw for the state audit, I was told. The supervisor then told us we can adopt our niece and that we needed to get our paper work together, and first and foremost to sign up and go to the required PATH classes. Well we signed up for them, we all went and had physicals and TB skin tests (5 of us) we even had our 8 outdoor cats given their rabies shots (as we were told was required) and had collected all the necessary documents on their list. We were to begin the PATH classes in mid Oct. and in early Oct. we were told of the judge's decision of "severe abuse" and found out that the state wasn't going to TPR, and we were told nonchalantly by the GAL that we can just get our attorney later on and do that ourselves. I think they thought we'd just do it.
I have emailed Gov. Bredesen, and he responded by saying he has passed my email along to the DCS Commissioner. I haven't heard anything from her yet, but its only been a few days. THANK YOU ALL, for your advice, words of sympathy, etc.
I'm not in your state but a neighboring one Georgia. That's what they do here. The state typically does not TPR for a relative placement. The way relative placements in my state have gotten around that trick is they allow the child to go to a regular foster home and let the state TPR then they come forward to request the placement. It's sad but true. Certain states really treat relative placements poorly.

Since you already have the child in your home you have to take a different angle.
Did you complete the PATH classes? You need to go ahead and do the PATH classes because the state is not exactly through with you yet. There's usually a 6-12 month supervised placement that has to be met. They will come out to your home periodically to visit but it's not monthly like a regular foster placement. Once the timeframe is up that's when they close the case and disappear. They will not TPR but at least you will have time to be considered as long term foster parents for your neice. Don't give up yet.
I think it need to explain something in case your CW tries to pull a fast one. Relative placements do require some monitoring for a set time period. The reason why is too often relatives will get a child out of foster care and then turn around and hand the child right back to the abusive parent. So they have to monitor to make sure the parent does not get the child back. Now after the time period is up some relatives still hand to child over to the parent but the state is banking on you keeping the child if you are compliant for the required timeframe.

Our last foster child was placed with a Great Aunt. The Aunt started giving the baby to his mom which was in violation of the placement agreement. The state got lucky and happened to catch her. The Aunt had gotten arrested and did not tell the state...the state found out and had to know where the baby stayed while she was in jail. The mom had the baby. So 6 weeks after he went to the Great Aunt he was right back in state care.
Sleeplvr said...
There's usually a 6-12 month supervised placement that has to be met. They will come out to your home periodically to visit but it's not monthly like a regular foster placement. Once the timeframe is up that's when they close the case and disappear.

i'm glad you used the word "usually," as i am in the state the op is in, and this did not happen for us. our child was not visited for almost a YEAR. our child was not visited until after tpr occurred, the appeal period passed, and the adoption hearing was set. THEN they came out and met our son for the first time since he enterred this state. THEN they were going to start monthly visits AFTER we finalized until i just started refusing to schedule visits and started calling people in charge because that was stupid and backwards. this state, is VERY VERY broken. very.
Was your son a relative? Relative placements are handled differently. Just like families who foster to adopt versus straight adoption. It also depends on how custody was granted... Foster, Relative placement, Adoptive placement or Legal guardianship. Sometimes there's a blend of the various types of placements. The line needs to be drawn more clearly and the courts need to stop flip-flopping so much on the direction of the cases.

If your son came from another state that's entirely different ball of wax. The transfer of the case, assigning a CW and scheduling visits is put on the backburner. You were adding another case to their load for child that's not even from their state. So the ball tends to get dropped in those situations. Cases like those typically fall outside their trackable metrics. Since the child was not taken into custody in your state they are probably not required to adhere to the time limits assigned to the average case. Dependant on the state you live in it could be 18 out of 22 months or something similar to that. I can't remember the exact time because we are not fostering anymore. If transfers from another state were trackable you can bet money they would roll that case through as quick as possible because it would improve their metrics. It would make it look like kids are spending less time in state care and they are clearing their case load faster.

We had another child who was scheduled for TPR. The father ended up getting custody and thought the state would still TPR the mom since it was scheduled. Nope... no TPR. They told him he would have to get his own lawyer to TPR. It's pretty much that way for most relative placements. That's why relatives hang back as long as possible. Without the TPR they are subject to custody challenges with the bparents.

One of my aunts had custody of her grandkids because their parents were long term drug addicts. The mom took her to court and ended up getting the kids back and she hasn't seen them again. The mom had not cleaned up her life. Enough time had passed and the mom was able to fake her way to regain custody. The youngest child didn't even know her because she was removed at birth. My aunt had the kids 7 years and then they were gone.

If you run into a dead end and the foster care system will not help you with a TPR. The only thing I can suggest is that you try to get the bparents to voluntarily relinquish. You can hope that since they are family they may be willing to let go without a fight. Look into state legal resources too. One of my former co-workers adopted her grandson for free because of some program for grandparents/family members who are retired. She was still working but her DH was older and already retired so they qualified based on his status.
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