Voluntary TPR - how does that work?
We were told today the CPS is actively talking with T's BP to get them to voluntarily surrender their rights (is that the right way to say that?). We were very surprised initially but on the other hand it sorta makes sense. The kids have only been in care since end of June but the reasons for removal will very likely result in criminal charges against a number of family members (including BP) as well as TPR sooner than later anyway. DH would rather they all went to prison, but pragmatically it would be better to get the kids permanacy now rather than drag it out, I'd guess.

How does voluntary surrender usually work? Anecdotally do many parents in this type of scenario agree? Do the BP usually get to specify any "conditions"?

Thanks for any insight!!~

Debra
Our CPS usually tries to get the parents to voluntarily sign, but if they don't CPS will go to court to do it. They offer incentives to them such as promising a certain number of visits a year vs. no visits if the court has to terminate. Sometimes the bios will try to push certain things they want in terms of post TPR contact. Don't ever agree to anything just to speed TPR along, or anything you feel is not in the best interest of the child or your family. Many times the bios will wait until the day before court to sign.

Our DD's Mom signed over and named us the adoptive parents in the paperwork. Her lawyer was literally writing the contract in the courthouse lobby. We agreed to 4 visits a year plus pics and updates. It never happened that way, but we do have an open adoption. (Our case was not the norm of foster care by any means.) In the beginning I wish I had not agreed to the 4 visits because they were only 12 weeks apart, but in the end we only had one visit the first year due to Mom not being able to handle it. I wished later that I had set the start date for the visits to begin after a period of 6 or more months to allow DD to attach and feel secure with us. It all worked out though.
In our case one parent signed voluntarily and the other did not. The non-signer also did not attempt to work whatever plan he was assigned, so there was no real chance he'd ever get to parent. So, we just had to wait for the "clock" to run out. His other family members were more of a threat to our foster-adoption hopes than he was.

It's natural for folks whose lives are spinning out of control to want to control what little bits of it they can. For some parents, that means signing the TPR and working with adoptive parents. For others, it means digging in their heels. It's rough.
I am wondering the same thing.

Who approaches the parents about this? When is it done? At court? Does it matter how long the child has been in care?

What's the waiting period after they sign the surrender?
Here in Texas, the caseworker can talk to the parents (with the consent of the parent's attorney) about relinquishing their rights, or the attorney can do it themselves. If they agree, then they draw up the paperwork (I forgot what it's called here) and the parents sign. Then the paperwork is presented at the Merits (TPR) hearing.

My FD's parents and my AD's father all relinquished. They didn't ask for any contact -- just some current photos.

Here, CPS can't promise them contact after the adoption as part of the relinquishment agreement. However CPS can agree that they will give the adoptive parents the parents' contact info and suggest maintaining contact.
Both of S's bioparents signed voluntary surrenders. In his case, when it became apparent that the court was going to move to TPR, the caseworkers and lawyers got together to explain to the bioparents (who were divorced, and so had two different representatives) that the kids had been in care for over two years with neither parent making any progress (one was in long term inpatient psychiatric and the other was living in a homeless shelter- after TWO YEARS of receiving RU services)

Biodad agreed almost immediately to sign for the 5 kids who had preadoptive placements. The day of TPR the foster parents had to go to court too to sign "intent to adopt" documents, and biodad got the right to be notified if the adoption did not go through as planned. He did NOT sign the TPR for S on that day, as S was the only kid without an adoptive resource. Several months after that, after lots of preplacement work, S moved in with me. I then met biodad at court, was introduced to him as the woman who wanted to adopt his son, we chatted for 5 minutes, and he signed the TPR that day. He did not ask for any visits or updates on any of his kids.

Biomom signed on all 6 kids a month or so later. She asked for visits to be written in- she is entitled to visits with the kids every 6 months. It is her responsibility to contact us and set them up, and if we feel it is not good for the health or wellbeing of the child at that time we can refuse. Also if she misses any visit, that part of the agreement is void. She also asked that all the adoptive parents sign that they will do what they can to maintain sibling contact. (All 6 siblings were adopted in the same county, but by 3 different families)

I also have an acquaintence (a friend's sister) who had a similar experience- after her daughter had been in foster care for 2 years, she was approached about TPR and adoption, and told if she didn't sign TPR would probably happen anyway, and she would lose all chance at visits, but if she signed she woudl get to ask for visits, and she has continued to have visits with her biodaughter every 6 months since then.
Ours were voluntary as well. The Biological's kinda helped pick out the adoptive family. These were pre-screened by the SW'er. They picked us. SW came for a visit and said yep she agreed that we would be a good family. Biological's both signed off on custody listing us as the adoptive home. We offered to set up a Myspace account where we would blog and post photos but have no communitcation otherwise and never met.

Second set the Biological's waited until three days until the TPR hearing. (we fostered for 6 months but never met bios) Then tried to negotiate visitation, updates etc. We agreed to the Myspace access. Which they in turn violated by copying the photos and posting them ALL OVER THE WEB!!!! This was a huge thing that we worried about and they knew that this was in violation of the agreement. They lost access.

In our cases I wouldn't agree to physical visits right away but did state that when it benefited the children that we would consider it but it wouldn't be even a consideration until at least 1 yr. They weren't happy about it but hey I didn't know these children or their needs. I had to have time to bond and learn them. Well we are 2 yrs in and have 5 children (out of 6) that are dx RAD. The sixth child I believe was lucky enough to not have RAD only because of his FASD and Autism. So we think that we made the right decision in not having visits. At this time we are still struggling to get them to bond with us. They are still confused. I can't imagine visits. I know that others will disagree but for these 6 kids visits, at this time, just wouldn't be beneficial. I think visits are something you have to gauge per situation.
Ours is semi voluntary. CO has some pretty strict rules regarding relinquishment, including several counseling sessions. Our Birth Mom wanted to relinquish but couldn't meet the requirements for one reason or another (I haven't specifically asked her why she couldn't). So she has advised her lawyer not to fight TPR and not to appeal it. She is not showing up at any hearings at this point either.

In our case no one approached her. She approached the department about it.

I'm told doing it this way will take less time in the grand scheme...and I don't really care as long as we get to adopt in the end!
I'm amazed that it's legal to offer the parents incentives to surrender. I would agree that it's probably in the best interest of the child for them to get permanency quicker but it just seems so wrong to barter this or that for parental rights. I want to clarify that I don't mean any of the posters - I'm talking about the courts.

I don't know if this goes for everywhere, but where I live, I have heard it is common for parents to be "warned" that if their rights are terminated involuntary for any reason, that the state may just take any future children without cause. This really creeps me out and feels so wrong. I'm so glad my dd's mother did not surrender her rights in exchange for anything or because she was threatened b/c it would just be one more thing for me to obsess over forever and feel guilt about. She got a fair trial and a LONG and fair appeal and I'm so greatful for that.

I don't think it's right to pressure the fp's to agree to things that they wouldn't have to if the case went to tpr either. Are any of you regretful of anything you agreed to?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this? Again, I'm not judging any of the fp's. I would have signed whatever they put in front of me to keep dd safe.
snc - I think that the idea is in cases where TPR is pretty much a foregone conclusion it would save everyone time money and heartache. I don't think it's a "threat" as much as trying to help them understand the nature of the issues.

As to having future children removed I am not sure it makes any difference if the termination is voluntary or involuntary..at least the statutes that I've read here just refer to "previous termination" not how the termination was achieved.

In our case Bdad was prepared to surrender but the parents split up and so bdad decided not to since bmom was not going to. It won't make ANY difference to the end result of the case...it will just drag it on for another 6 months. To us it doesn't really matter either way, we know FD will be safe, whether adopted by us or another family. BUT, I have also thought that later on in life it might be easier for her if we can say "your parents fought hard to do what they needed to to get you back" instead of "they didn't care enough to fight for you". Does that makes sense?
In Missouri, if parents voluntarily sign, they have no say in what happens to the child. (So no incentive in that regard.) In Missouri, all adoptions through foster care are closed. There are no binding open adoption agreements. If foster parents choose contact after adoption that's up to them, but there are not any binding agreements.

Also, voluntary vs. involuntary, does make a difference in the removal of future children. Voluntary relinquishment does not automatically mean removal of future children. So that might be the incentive for parents to voluntarily sign. Which many in Missouri do end up voluntarily signing, (I've heard). Friends of ours adopted through foster care also and the mom of their kiddos ended up signing voluntarily on the day the TPR hearing was supposed to take place.
In WI no incentives are allowed. They go out of their way to tell the BPs that voluntary gets them no extra points since the state does not allow open adoptions anyways. Our CW talked to the BPs about it. Birth Mom decided to do voluntary and signed that that was her intention. Six months went by with no word from BD so they filed for involuntary against him. Both showed up in court and both did voluntary. I think ultimately they did it to avoid further child support payments and to get out from under the system entirely.
Biomom voluntarilly surrendered and biodad was TPR'd by default. Bmom only decided to do it when a TPR trial was setup and she knew we were going to adopt. She was not allowed to make any conditions whatsoever though and we did not do any visitation agreement, etc...

She did mail me the TPR papers she signed saying "I did sign these with a heavy heart. I hope she understands." It was sad Unhappy
Over here in England, there are never conditions if someone voluntarily signs. I don't believe it is mentionned to parents anyway, so it only very rarely happens. Iver here what happens is that once SS have a full care order, and decide that adoption is the plan, they go to court to get a 'placement order'. This makes it legal for a child to be moved into an adoptive home (it's rare for FP's to adopt, as foster adopt doesn't exist here, so FP's only get the option to adopt the child if the child will be hard to place anywhere else due to age etc). A placement order doesn't terminate all parental rights, instead rights are shared between BP's, SS and AP's. The BP's have the right to ask for permission to contest the adoption order - they have to go to court, and have a hearing to determine whether they are allowed to contest or not. When that is over, the adoption is final, and only then are BP's rights terminated fully. Because there can be legal battle going ton at the final adoption hearing, there is a second hearing weeks later called the 'celebration hearing' where you get the balloons, and a certificate etc, even though the adoption is already final by that time.

It seems totally wrong to me to offer 'incentives' ie. pressurise someone into voluntary relinquishment. Some of what is being said sounds like blackmail to me. When anything like this happens to an expectant woman considering adoption (ie. if you don't sign then this and this will happen), there is outcry, as well there should be, but it's somehow different if the children are in the system? IMO, it makes it much harder to explain everything later, because how does the child process their Bp's being 'pressurised' into signing papers? It makes the BP's look like helpless victimes and makes everyone else look bad! Which isn't helpful if the BP's were actually truly horrid abusers.
omzig said...
In WI no incentives are allowed. They go out of their way to tell the BPs that voluntary gets them no extra points since the state does not allow open adoptions anyways. Our CW talked to the BPs about it. birthmom decided to do voluntary and signed that that was her intention. Six months went by with no word from BD so they filed for involuntary against him. Both showed up in court and both did voluntary. I think ultimately they did it to avoid further child support payments and to get out from under the system entirely.


Where I am as well no conditions can be put on voluntary surrender. They told our birthmom if she relinquished she couldn't name us as the adoptive parents...that she'd have no say in what happened to FD.
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