Nothing’s ever easy (an update on Squirm)

I’ve been trying to write this post in my head for about a week… I haven’t really come up with anything I like, so we’re just going to see where this goes… Please excuse any vagueness – I feel like I need to be careful with what I share, since we’re in an ongoing legal situation.
I’m just going to lead with the bottom line: our family needs your prayers.
Squirm is free for adoption and we have been selected as his adoptive family (^you know, since he’s lived with us over a year & almost two-thirds of his life^).
Unfortunately, Squirm’s previous foster mom (PFM) believes he should be returned to her and is willing to fight as far and as long as it takes to get him back. We have retained an attorney and are mostly optimistic, but we know how screwy the foster care system can be, and we are confident that PFM has deeper pockets than we do….
A little more of the background than I’ve previously shared:

Squirm entered care in June 2012, when he was 5 weeks old. Based on his birth parents’ prior history with DCF, the assumption was that his case would go rapidly to adoption. In fact, he entered care with a concurrent plan – his birth parents were given reunification case plans, but he needed to be in a home that was willing to adopt him. So, ^naturally^, he was placed with a woman who wanted to adopt but (^evidently^) really wasn’t interested in actually fostering. He was her first (and only) foster placement.

I got a call in January 2013 asking if I would take an 8-month-old boy who was being moved ASAP because his current foster mom was interfering with reunification. I agreed to the placement primarily because my agency was in a bind and I wanted to help them out and only because we thought it would be a short-term placement going to reunification fairly quickly. I mean, ^who would rock the boat with a case that was likely to go to adoption???^

Because I had been pretty vocal about my opposition to Lady Bug going back to her dad, I was more than a little freaked out by the idea that a placement could be disrupted because of a foster parent interfering with reunification. Little by little, though, I was able to piece together enough information to know that PFM had done MUCH more than voice her opinion on the child’s best interests. I’m sure she meant well, but she definitely crossed some lines.

As a foster parent, part of my job is to support the case plan. Every year when my license is renewed, SuperDad and I have to sign a document acknowledging that responsibility and reaffirming our commitment to supporting the case plan. I also realize that my rights are VERY limited and I can accomplish the most by being a team player. PFM…. didn’t. She evidently didn’t realize that she couldn’t call the shots and she apparently didn’t realize she could advocate more effectively if she played nice. She definitely didn’t support the case plan.

So Squirm came to me on January 31, 2012. I won’t get into all of the details… because you don’t really care…. but I will say that his motor and social skills were significantly delayed when we got him, but he made RAPID progress once he was in our home – he was on-target for all his milestones by the time we’d had him a few weeks. The change was so pronounced that we submitted a statement for the investigation into the change of placement.

Because, yes, PFM contacted the governor and the state sent a team to investigate – they were here for something like 2 weeks. The interviewed everyone involved – including, I believe PFM. They read every document in the file. And they determined that the move was a good decision. I feel I should note that the investigation was soon enough after the move that Squirm would probably not have been seriously traumatized by reversing the move – AT THAT TIME. But the investigative team determined that the move was good, so we thought we were done with that chapter.

At some point, PFM petitioned to intervene in the case and was denied because Florida doesn’t allow a foster parent (^and certainly not a former foster parent^) to intervene in a case when parental rights are still intact.

On March 13, 2013, the judge ordered that the case plan be changed to TPR/Adoption and parental rights were finally terminated in December 2013. ^Somehow^ PFM knew the minute Squirm became available for adoption and applied to adopt him immediately.

Which pretty much brings you up to speed. Obviously we applied to adopt him, and the procedure when multiple parties petition to adopt a child is for DCF/CPC to convene a Selection Committee – which selected SuperDad and I. PFM has 30 days to appeal the Selection Committee’s decision, and she has stated that she intends to do so. I don’t know how far she can take this or how long she can drag it out since this seems to be fairly uncharted territory for everyone I’ve consulted.

You may remember that Squish came back to us on April 11, 2013 – since that time, with the exception of about 8 hours of visitation, 2 afternoons at the courthouse and maybe 2 doctor appointments, Squish and Squirm have literally been together 24/7 – they share a room, daycare class, nap time and anything else you can imagine. You may also remember that they are “twins” – obviously not biologically related, but Squish was born less than 7 hours before Squirm, in the same hospital (and Squirm is the only one of his many biological siblings to be born in this hospital). Splitting up these two boys would be tragic – everyone sees that but PFM – and I don’t think she cares.

I’ve been asked how PFM can possibly think that moving Squirm would be good for him…. I honestly don’t have an answer for that. My assumption is that her focus isn’t on what’s best for Squirm, but rather on what’s “FAIR” to her. I think that she feels she was mistreated and is trying to make a point, even if it’s at the expense of my son.

Hint: It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.
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