Once again, I apologize for the conspicuous lack of content here of late. This year has been singularly stressful on all fronts, and my time and desire to sit at the keyboard and write anything has been greatly diminished. Even now, I sit in a seminar on bad faith listening to an attorney drone on about how big bad insurance companies get bent over a barrel in the heart of redneck country.
So, I figured I would use the time to do something productive like update my loyal readers (all 4 of you who are left) on the status of M&M's sister.
The short version is that the last 24 hours have been very stressful, and the prognosis is not encouraging.
So, what does that mean? Well, sit back and I will try to click out the long version. Bear with me.
Back before all this started, Texas' long sitting governor (gooberner) Rick Perry had delusions of grandeur and decided he should not seek reelection for yet another term leading the great state of Texas so that he could focus on running to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States (along with 30 something other hopefuls). Cheerleader Rick (he was an Aggie Yell Leader which is the Aggie version of a cheerleader) anointed then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott as his chosen successor. Greg Abbott (who I have nothing against for the record) was duly elected in predictable red state fashion over the democrat nominee, Wendy Davis (who never had a snow balls chance in Hell's outhouse of winning), and took over the keys to the governor's mansion in January of this year.
One of the first things Governor Abbott did upon taking the reigns was to request a review of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Texas' version of child protective services) procedures and policies regarding removal of children from their homes. The idea was that DFPS was removing children from their homes too frequently for minor, easily correctable issues that didn't warrant removal and placement of children in foster care when a suitable "safety placement" was available.
So, the Parental Child Safety Placement process was hatched. The theory is that DFPS would recognize a danger to the child in the home that was serious enough that it was in the best interest of the child to be elsewhere to give the parent time to correct the dangerous condition (e.g. cleaning up the filth, throwing out the dead beat/drug dealing boyfriend, etc.) but which condition was not serious enough to pursue a formal removal into DFPS conservatorship and resulting foster care. The PCSP is intended to be a short term, temporary alternative (ideally less than 60 days) where the odds of the child returning home following correction of the dangerous condition are good and there is a suitable safety placement willing to be a voluntary caregiver under a formal, written agreement.
If you read the guidelines for the PCSP, it's quickly apparent that whoever wrote it didn't quite think through all the consequences and implications of the new policy and how it would gel with the existing policy framework or how it would be applied in practice. There is a huge, unstated, assumption that the voluntary caregiver will be a family member or someone with close, significant contacts with the family.
In practice, reality and the law of unintended consequences beats good intentions into submission every time.
So, what does this have to do with M&M 2.0's situation? She was born just in time for the new procedures to be put in place. Come to find out, DFPS quickly figured out that they could use the new process to intimidate parents in borderline cases into putting their children into safety placements which have NO COURT OVERSIGHT.
In a normal removal case, the DFPS files an emergency removal petition with the court to be granted conservatorship over the child so that the child can be placed in a licensed foster care home or the home of a responsible family member who can be granted temporary custody. In the case of a PCSP, the birth parent retains legal custody of the child but signs an agreement giving temporary care of the child to pretty much anyone they choose.
In M&M 2.0's case, the bios chose to give voluntary custody to someone they allegedly knew from church. Why I say allegedly will become apparent soon enough; however, there is no possibility that these people from church could have had close, significant contact with the family as the bios had only been back in Texas for less than a year at the time of 2.0's birth and the bios had continued their history and practice of couch surfing nomadic living arrangements with whichever friend or drug buddy was willing to put up with them for a while which included locations from all over the north Texas area.
Now, fast forward to yesterday. In November, we had been told that the bios had agreed to extend the safety placement for another 60 or 90 days to give them time to work their services plan (which, in typical bio fashion, they had not been working). We were prepared to wait around until January or February to find out what would happen next.
Then, the DFPS case worker called The Queen yesterday morning to inform us that the voluntary safety placement family was filing suit against the bios for child support (good luck finding blood in that turnip), legal custody (for which they are on shaky legal grounds at best to seek but apparently found someone to actually file the pleading) and a restraining order (me thinks the welcome mat has been withdrawn). The case worker wanted to know if we would be willing to allow visitation between the siblings apparently assuming that this development would go unchallenged by us.
Tee hee...that's so cute. Fertilizer...meet fan.
Come to find out, the safety placement family is not unlike us in that they are childless and incapable of having children of their own. Naturally, they have bonded with 2.0 and want to keep her. Unlike us, they are pursuing questionable legal tactics instead of having patience and faith. Interestingly, they are also claiming they do not know the bios which directly calls into question DFPS' handling of the PCSP which requires that the safety placement have close, significant contacts with the family.
Needless to say, we are not amused.
Cousin L has been informed of these developments, and she has been in contact with the bios. Female bio was reportedly clueless about these developments and does not want to lose her latest offspring but was open to the idea of pulling the voluntary placement from church family and moving 2.0 to our home. Male bio adamantly refuses to consider moving 2.0 to our house and is now threatening Cousin L with termination of all future contact unless Cousin L drops everything and comes to Texas to get 2.0 (you may recall that Cousin L lives in a western state some 1200 miles away).
Meanwhile, The Queen and I await a call back from an attorney recommended to us by our foster care/adoption agency to see what, if any legal recourse we have in this situation.
That's the news fit to print at the moment. Further updates as events warrant.