Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Letter

The following is the text of the letter I hope to be able to read in court, or at least to get into the hands of the decision-makers before "Josie's" case is decided on Monday. Your comments are requested on how this might be improved before I give it to somebody who matters.

Not to imply that you all don't matter, of course. But you probably don't matter as much to "Josie" as this letter might.

To whom it may concern:

My wife [The Wife] and I have concerns regarding the future of our former--and we hope future--foster daughter, ["Josie"]. We feel that our concerns have not been solicited or adequately addressed in the course of her time living with us and we feel duty-bound as her foster parents to do what we can to make her future a brighter and more successful one. We also love her and want what's best for her.

Our efforts to do the best by ["Josie"] have been hampered when we've had to learn about court dates, scheduled home visits, and other information from ["Josie"] or her family rather than a social worker. Our PATH social worker sometimes learned these things from us. The communication in this case was sorely lacking all around.

When ["Josie"] came to our house last December, she was an angry, frightened girl, which is to be expected when going to a new home. We recognized her potential and proceeded to work with her on areas that needed to be addressed. Based on our own observations plus feedback from her family, teachers, counselor, psychologist and even her friends, she was doing much better than before she came. She still had areas of her life she needed to work on, but it seemed to be going very well.

Immediately after she got to our house, there seemed to be a push to send her back home as soon as possible, with many home visits. This was implemented by parties other than us or PATH, and we didn't understand or agree with this course of action. However, our input was seldom asked for. On those rare occasions when we were allowed to voice our concerns to someone other than our PATH social worker, they did not appear to be taken into consideration at all. We feel this course of action was and is harmful to ["Josie"] until we've had a chance to address some remaining issues and build a sense of stability in her life that she has sorely lacked.

During recent home visits when we haven't been supervising her, we have learned that she used alcohol, was abusive to people, and did not regularly take her medication. We have had to deal with bad moods--particularly after she started visiting home often--but we never saw things like this. Then last week, ["Josie"] got into trouble in school resulting in her arrest and removal from our home to juvenile detention. At that time, Dan was unavailable and [The Wife] was given the option to either take ["Josie"] back to our home that night or send her to detention. She chose the latter, and Dan concurs with that decision.

We have been informed that some parties may have taken this to mean that we "have had enough of her". Nothing could be further from the truth. We still believe in her potential to become an incredible young woman, and we believe we have the ability to help her realize that. We do NOT, however, have the ability to do that instantly. We don't believe anybody could, and nobody should be asked to try.

["Josie"] needs time in a stable environment, with people who love her and know how to deal with her. As people who have lived with her for several months every day and have learned about many of her problems, we feel she would be better served in our home than in a group home or other institution. She cannot, however, be expected to excel if she is constantly sent home on weekend and overnight visits before she is ready, where we cannot monitor her medication, behavior and other aspects of her life. We do not wish to be her foster parents under those conditions, because we do not wish to engage in an effort doomed to failure.

If you should decide that a group home or other environment would in fact be more beneficial to her at this time than foster care in our home, it is our judgement that her care providers should be given adequate time without constant home visits to address her issues.

Since she went to detention, we have been contacted by her family and even her peers who feel she belongs with us, requesting that we try to get this information to people who make the decisions about her future. This letter is our best effort. Please take it into consideration as you decide what is in her best interests.


Foster Parents


At 9:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is stupid.

At 10:22 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Well...I doubt that I can compete with the eloquence and taste of your previous commentator, but I will do my best.

I like the letter.

I wonder if it would be more effective when read in court if you shortened it. You might want to spend less time discussing how incompetent everyone has been (though they clearly have been) and focus only on the improvement that Josie experienced at your home and how much you would like the opportunity to continue.

But I'm not sure...

I'm a teacher you know, show me a piece of writing and ask for comments and I cannot be stopped.

At 7:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the letter as it is. It gave a depiction of everything you had to deal with throughout her placement with you all. I would definatly submit or have it read to the court.

At 2:33 PM , Blogger Mary said...

I would suggest getting it to the guardian ad litem, if he/she is on your side and not a detriment. I know in our case, the GAL was extremely helpful in drafting a visitation agreement we were not fond of having. I would use the words "in ['Josie]'s best interests" repeatedly throughout the letter, too. That's what they're supposed to be looking out for and it never hurts to remind them of that. Good luck!

At 3:48 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

Your blog is anything but stupid.

That letter is motivated by love and concern for a young lady whose home visits are anything but beneficial to her.

I hope that they listen to you. The emphasis on sending kids home ASAP seems more financially and politically motivated, rather than in the best interests of many children.

Again... if any of the research from the discussion of reunification on my blog (sunshinegirlonarainyday) is helpful to you, please feel free to use it.

I have cited all of the research articles.

At 3:52 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

Also... I agree with Mary in her posting about Josie's best interests.

Spell it out clearly for them, even more clearly than you already have, that this is about:

-Josie's future
-Josie's potential
-Josie's education
-Josie's mental health and emotional healing

This is about the stability and supervision that Josie needs.

You might even paint a scenario of Josie's life if she goes back home (future arrests, drug use) vs. Josie's future if she spends extended time in a more sheltered environment.

At 5:18 PM , Blogger Dan said...

"Your blog is stupid."

1) So's you're mother.
2) I'm rubber, you're glue.
3) I know you are, but what am I?

Jeez. Thought I left the infantile prattle when I left political blogging.

Other comments:

Thank you all so much for the input. Some of these will probably be used to modify the final draft, especially the bit about emphasizing her best interests more. I'm a bit concerned about making it too long (I agree with Beth there, though I disagree with her in that I believe strongly that the incompetence in this county can't be overstated and should be pointed out and emphasized when possible until it's at least heard) as I'd like it to be short and to the point, but I may be able to insert a phrase or two.


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