DH and I are working toward straight adoption from the foster system to avoid the pain of bonding with FC and then have them RU.
I realize to some that may sound selfish. We do support RU if it is appropriate, we just don't feel emotionally capable of having our hearts broken time and time again. I feel it is better to be honest with ourselves and accept our limitations.
However, I read somewhere that some states, counties, judges won't TPR until an adoptive home is found. So, how does that work? I wonder how often legal risk placements actually end up in adoption and how often they end up RU or placed with family, etc.
Speak up if you have experience with legal risk placements and don't mind giving us the inside scoop. TIA!
I've had 2 legal risk placements. My daughter was probably about as low-risk as you can get. Her birthmom had already had 7 other kids tpr'd over many years. Birthdad was unknown. No known relatives. Because of prior history, the baby was being fast-tracked to adoption with the mother being offered no caseplan. I took the baby home from the hospital at 2 days old and her mother went MIA a few days later. We never heard from her again. TPR occurred when baby was 3 months old and the adoption was finalized at 6.5 months. All that being said, I still worried constantly that something would go wrong and I would lose my baby girl!
My son was a higher risk case. His birth parents were married, had great careers, lived in a nice neighborhood, and were loving towards their 3 children. For all outward appearances, they were a nice "normal" family. However, they were also extreme hoarders and kept their house in an extremely unsanitary living condition. DSS had been involved with the family for many years trying to get them to clean up. Finally, DSS said enough and filed TPR on all 3 children. He was placed with me when he was 6 months old. His parents fought the TPR hard, including hiring a very good private attorney. They even completed their case plan the week before the TPR trial. I was terrified that the judge would deny TPR, but in the end, TPR was granted and an appeal filed. I learned just recently that the appeals court declined to hear the appeal and a finalization date has been set!
My advice is to think hard about what level of risk you are willing to accept, but know that even low risk cases can turn quickly: birth relatives can suddenly appear, judges can unexpectedly give 2nd chances (or 3rd or 4th or 5th), parents can make improvements and earn a goal change back to RU before the TPR trial...
I would also advise you to be prepared that any level of legal risk is very stressful and, at times, emotionally draining. When faced with the idea of losing the child you have come to love so deeply, your mind will conjure up threats even when none exist! Even with my daughter, it was a constant battle to keep my mind from racing through every conceivable thing that could go wrong: what if a man appeared claiming to be her father (unlikely given her mom was a prostitute)? What if one of the siblings' family decided they wanted her (I was promised repeatedly by both CW and GAL that she would not be moved, but I refused to believe it)? What if mom suddenly reappeared free from drugs and with a job and home? Would they give her back? Everyday I thought of a new threat and some of them were just short of ridiculous! With my son it was even worse!
We have recently decide to switch to foster to adopt instead of straight adoption. After deciding on the spare of the moment to take an emergency placement we entered the world of foster care. He was with us for 9 days so It was not the same as say 2 a family that has a child for 2 years, but painful all the same. The stange thing I noticed is that it was less painful to have actually experienced him than it wa to have never experienced A who was our failed adoption match. I love loving on kids and not waiting around hoping to get the chance to. Even if I can only love on a child for a little while it is so much better than waiting around hoping to adopt and not loving on anyone. I can say this and my emotions are pretty raw as he was just moved yesterday. I love him and miss him and yet am already thinking about our next placement. So, I say go for it and have faith in God.
The answer to the question really depends on the specifics. Some "legal risk" placements are really risky because not all family have been found/homestudied/etc. Our have both been very successful, but they were very low risk legal risk placements.
Our son had been in care for 1 year, hadn't had any visits or contact with biomom in that time, nor had she shown for court. Paternity test showed "Biodad" wasn't dad. BioGrandparents all had CPS history themselves.
Our daughter's Biomom had previous TPR on 5 other kids and was not offered services for our daughter. No BioDad was listed on birth certificate, etc. No family had ever called, come forward, or shown up at court in the 9 months she was in care.
So these were low risk legal placements, but if you look through this forum, you will certainly see many cases where family came forward or had been trying to contact for a long time before they were recognized.
I hope you make the decision that is right for your family.
It is good to know ahead of time what your emotional limits are. However, if you are closing out the option of foster to adopt and going just to straight adoption, they may tell you that you are more likely to be placed with an older child.
We had a legal risk placement with us for 10 months. The brother was moved to therapeutic after about a week due to extreme behaviors and threatening, very specifically, to kill my partner. His sisters *seemed* to be basic level kids. We got them into therapy and events unfolded. The things they went through were far more severe than anyone could have ever imagined. The 4 year old developed an alter personality, the 6 year old was tantrumming for hours and hurting herself. Both parents only showed up for court, nothing else. Grandparents were not appropriate, but did fight for them. For all intents and purposes, the girls were a sure thing adoption. We loved them more than anything, but had to have them moved to therapeutic care. We could not give them what they needed and the state would not pay for the kind of therapies they needed without the higher classification.
On the other hand, I know of foster parents in my area that took newborn twins home from the hospital. Parents and family had extensive CPS and criminal histories. They were legal risk, which here, means that the primary goal is adoption but they are required to offer services. Mom worked the services and 8 months later the twins went home.
RU doesn't have to mean broken hearts and never seeing kids again. I'm still in touch with my kids' old foster mom- just finished a pair of booties for her granddaughter who was born on Labor Day, once I get over this cold I need to get over and see the baby. Point is that former foster children can stay in touch, like extended family.
It seems like there's so much all-or-nothing mentality- be a full-time parent until the child is 18, or have no contact at all- but there's so many stable healthy ways people can be involved in a child's life, and it hurts a kid to lose anyone they care about. The other day at work (as a cashier in a craft store), someone snuck up on me and hugged my butt- I knew right away it had to be my old housemates' 5 year old, who was thrilled to see me and said he misses me every day. I miss him too, and I would be heartbroken if I was told I could never see him again. Children with divorced parents get to keep both parents in their lives- why shouldn't foster kids get that too?