Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Best Interest

The Department of Family and Protective Services. Interesting title. No longer Child Protective Services, as we are all about reunification these days. Which would be great, but it is not possible in all cases. The department is supposed to protect the needs of the entire family. What the kids needed originally was a safe place to stay. That is about the last thing the department did, and that was three and a half years ago.

Since then they have allowed them to stay with a family that they have bonded to. The department will say that they need to stay with us, but on paper is the word, reunification. And we all know that legally paper trumps speech. Ten years from now, should mama have her act together and go into court and say, I want them. Not I want them back, because the kids in my house have never lived with her, but I want them. Will the caseworkers who told us they'd like for the kids to stay with us be around? NO. All the judge will be able to go on is what is on paper. And what is on paper? Reunification.

Almost every clause in the family law statutes dealing with children will have the phrase, "best interests of the child/ren". Right now we are not the ones deciding that. We are, on a day to day living kind of way. But anything that doesn't involve food, clothing and shelter needs to be run through the department. There is a pool fifteen minutes from our house, it's in a different county. Each and every time I would like to take my kids to a pool 15 minutes away I am supposed to call and get permission from the department, caseworker not around? Can't go. Every time my husband and I want to go to dinner by ourselves we have to hire someone who has been approved by the department. If we want to go on vacation we have to get permission from the court. When we were going on vacation in July, we asked for permission in April. It came down to one hour before we were supposed to leave for the airport. We had to provide them every detail of our trip including flight numbers and hotel information way back in April, and yet two hours before we left we were not legally able to take them. We cannot save for their college. I'm just wondering where their best interests are right now.

This morning we paid an attorney to find out for them. We get to present our side, they get to present theirs. Since it is a civil matter we go with preponderance of evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. The scales only need to tip ever so slightly in our favor. I think that was what went wrong when the state tried it two years ago. They thought they needed reasonable doubt. If that were the case very few people would be allowed to even have kids. Can every parent prove legally that they are, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the best interests of the kids are always foremost in every decision. I think not, I can say that my husband and I always try to keep each child's best interest in mind, but somewhere along the way what is best for each child may not be what is best for the entire family. It may be best that for Big Girl that we buy her $10,000 worth of photography and computer equipment so she can have every advantage in pursuing photography as a life. It may be best for Felpsy if we move to Baltimore and have him trained as a swimmer by the best. As a family unit, those decisions might not be best. I think that what is in the best interest of our BOTH children is that they have a family who can decide.

1 comment:

JustTheFactsMa'am said...

Hi--just found your blog today and I'm lovin' it! I'm a former foster mama of several years and an adoptive mom. I'll be back to read more soon...

"Best interest of children" is a phrase that drives me batty. Especially when (at least in my state) caseworkers are also simultaneously talking about what's "adequate" for a child to return to. "Adequate" may be one of the most nauseating words I've ever heard when it comes to best interest discussions. How are they even complementary terms?

Anyway, love the blog, and nice "meeting" you!