Tuesday, May 05, 2009 Search
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The primary goal in dependent/neglect cases is for a child to be reunified with their biological parents.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible.  Sometimes the factors that bring a child into care are not rectified by the parents, and parental rights must be terminated.

This was the case for one little boy.  His parents were very young and had a drug problem, as did their parents.  Little James (not his real name) was placed in a foster home right after birth, and when the parental rights were terminated, the foster parents were willing to adopt.

However, the father (who was no longer in a relationship with the mother) appealed the judge's termination ruling, and the Appeals Court saw fit to overturn the termination.  There followed a long process of readdressing the reasons the child originally came into care, reuniting the father with the baby via supervised visits, and with the father attemptimg to bond with his son who was now two years old.

This case had a couple of complicating factors.  The parents had an older child who was also removed from their custody a year or so before the birth of baby James.  The older child also had a CASA advocate, and this child was eventually placed in the permanent custody of a relative, which was what the CASA recommended.  Then, after James came into care at birth, the couple had a third child.  The third baby never came into foster care.  The mother cared for the baby for awhile, then gave him to the father, who now has custody.

So when the appeals Court overturned the termination ruling, the father had not seen baby James for about one year, and now he also had another child to care for.  The father made a valiant effort to have stable housing, employment, and was succeeding at this as well as remaining drug free.  The visits were very awkward at first, but visitation went well after a couple of months, once the father was able to establish somewhat of a relationship with James. 

However, the father was struggling to support himself and his younger child, while remaining compliant with DHS and the Court.  He was succeeding at all that was required of him, and the possibility was strong that James would eventually be returned to him.  The CASA, who had developed a good rapport with all parties on the case, knew that it is very important that children find safe and permanent homes, and not languish in foster care.  The father trusted the CASA enough to confide that he felt he could not adequately care for both children, and also that he felt James was in a very loving, safe placement with the foster parents, and he was aware they wished to adopt James.  The CASA empowered the father to make his wishes known and James was adopted.  The new parents have a close relationship with the father and his other child and will continue to help maintain this family bond.