We have taken in a young teenager. In two months, her mother has seen her four times for less than two hours - except for the trip to see a movie. She has no winter coat, we have nothing that says we can seek medical care, we can't afford clothes for her (of which she is desperately in need), we're bleeding copiously financially in an effort to provide for her basic needs. Tonight, because her mother's car isn't running, we're supposed to keep her sister overnight to ensure she makes it to school in the morning. We don't know how long that is expected to last.
We've called CPS for help.
Did we do the right thing?
Yes, if nothing more, for advice and guidance. How ever much you want to help the children, you also need the resources to do so. Have you taken in the young teenager in an official way, or is this an unofficial arrangement with the parent?
It was an unofficial arrangement, and that's what is ultimately causing the problem, Hollie. If I had my way, I'd keep her forever. She's a beautiful, talented, sweet, and wonderful person. Part of my frustration is that while her mother is strapped, she has resources which are supposed to be for taking care of her youngest daughter, and we don't see any of it. It doesn't materialize in the form of the things the young lady needs. For example, the money she spent to take her two daughters to a movie could have paid for her youngest's winter coat.
I still think you've done the right thing approaching CPS. If you hadn't taken her in, what would have been the outcome? This is so difficult. Her mother, and believe me I've worked with plenty at Probation, may not have the best skills when it comes to problem solving, and doing what is right for her children, even if she loves them, which she probably does. If nothing else, she'll receive much needed support, or you (may) I don't know how the foster service works in the US, might receive the resourses which are essential for raising a child. I Know, I've had two, they bleed you dry (mine still do and one of them is twenty)
Her mother loves both of the girls very much. I'm certain of that. She just doesn't always make productive choices. And, given your history, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.
I'm feeling better about having called them. I just don't want her to have to experience any more instability. At least with us, she has a consistently loving home and the certainty that she is loved and that we will do anything necessary to take care of her.
Mo2Chi, would you please e-mail me with her age and sizes?
Definitely work on getting some sort of medical release from the mother. I'm not sure what sort of form would be required, but you should be able to bing-oogle to find one. When my kids were young and we left them with a sitter for more than a day, we would create a release form based on the ones used by the school. I doubt that it was as legal as what you would probably need, but at least it was an indication of our intent.
Aficionada, I'll be glad to do that. Thank you.
In all honesty, my biggest concern is being able to help her at school and seek medical attention for her. I love this child like my own.
I'll be in touch. Thanks for taking the time to respond during your own difficult time. Hubbers are such amazing creatures!
It certainly sounds like you're doing what's best for the child under very difficult circumstances.
Whatever the mother's situation is, it's pretty clear she cannot parent her daughters consistently right now. They need and deserve stability.But you also need the ability to advocate for her without tripping over the mother at unexpected turns. So yes, I agree that some kind of more formal arrangement is probably needed to protect you and your family as well as the girl(s).
I wish I knew more about the resources available to you.
Off the top of my head:
1. Thrift stores can be a great source of inexpensive clothing of all types. Nice stuff, too!
2. Have you talked to the girl's school? Might they be able to guide you?
3. Church (no doubt you've long since tapped that resource!).
Also love Aficionada's idea!
I'm sure there are others here who would be glad to contribute directly...
What do you need?
Oh, MM! We haven't talked to the school yet, but it's funny that you should mention it. I was planning to go speak to her counselor this week. At Homecoming, I gave her a dress, shoes, and jewelry, only to find out that the dance tickets were $20. We talked to the school, and they GAVE us her ticket for free. I think that might be a good step.
You're right...we've tapped the church and they've been helpful as much as they could.
Thanks, ATM. She's a really special kid, and she's brought a lot of joy to our home.
Have CPS helped you so far, Motown, have you heard from them yet?
We heard from them this morning, Hollie, and they did talk to the girls at school today. They're going to work on getting a power of attorney for us and help us get some financial assistance from the state for her.
It was such a hard choice to make. I love her mother, and she's my friend, but I can't stand by while her daughter is in need and I can do something to help.
I don't think they've been able to reach Mom as of yet, but I'm not sure.
Then that's all good and as it should be.
I know it must have been really difficult for you, but you put the needs of the little girl first and that's the right thing to do. Mum might struggle a bit at first, but unless she's placing them in serious danger when they're with her, she can still continue to have a loving and close relationship with them. I'll keep saying it, you did the right thing, neglect is actually the greatest danger to children and whatever her intentions, she clearly hasn't been mindful.
Now thelittle girl gets the best of both worlds, you and your husband providing stability, a loving home and the resources to do so, probably a continued relationship with their mother which is also important. That sounds like a win win to me.
I completely agree with MM. The school is an incredible resource. I teach in a school where about 85% of our student population is considered 'at risk.' We are continuously referring parents to resources for food, shelter, clothing and more. They work with these kind of situations frequently and have relationships with organizations that already are established. Contacting the county may also be a resource for you. They will often have a list of organizations that you can contact for a variety of needs.
Good luck to you and the young lady. If nothing else, you have shown her love and compassion and this will stay with her forever.
Thank you, cardelean. I agree that's a great suggestion. Her mother told me today that she has been in touch with the youngest daughter's counselor and has requested some help. I was very glad to hear that.
In terms of approaching county/state agencies, we run into the same wall each time - there is nothing that allows us to legally request help for her because our arrangement was an informal one. So, she's not technically our dependent.
I think things are going to smooth themselves out soon.
To all of you who have responded, thank you so much for the support. I was really battling guilt this morning about having made the call. I feel a lot better after all of your wise words, and definitely believe we did the right thing.
So glad to hear things are progressing in a positive direction for you over there, M2C!
It shows true love on the mom's part to recognize that her daughter needs something more/other than she can give her at present. That doesn't mean forever. It means right now.
Sounds like she's not fighting your efforts. That's a huge plus.
Who knows? Maybe some of the help you uncover will include parenting classes for the mom -- if she's willing.
In all of this, MM, I have the feeling that good will come. I'm just nervous that it will cause difficulties for this young lady, and that's the last thing I want.
My prayer for is that she turns to her friends and family and others who love her for the strength she needs instead of turning inward and closing off.
I hope things are working out okay for you by now. I have a couple of thoughts. I've been an official foster mother as well as an unofficial one at various stages. On the subject of specific needs like a winter coat, simply say to the mother "Mary needs a warm winter coat. Will you take her to buy one or would you rather give me the money and I'll take her?" The answer's always 'no' unless you ask.
As far as the bigger picture is concerned, make sure you have the conversation with the child that lays out your position regarding her future. Tell her that whatever happens she'll always be welcome in your home and you'll always give her help when she needs it. In the event that the authorities take her away and say they'll put her in a foster home, she should insist they ask you first if you'll foster her.
Make sure she remembers your telephone number and encourage her to use it.
It is important that she knows that you love her and you're willing to do whatever you can to help her through this difficult period.
Keep reminding her that she'll be an adult soon and she'll have a great life. Tell her she just has to keep one eye on the future and do her best to get good grades so she can get a good job, and she should just enjoy herself without stressing too much about what's happening right now because one day she's going to be so busy being a super wife and a brilliant mother and a really successful career woman and a talented artist and a fearless adventurer (and all the other things that interest her now) that she'll hardly have time to sit down and read a book and do nothing. Tell her she has to take care of herself because one day there's going to be a fabulous man who wants to marry her and have kids, and she's going to be glad that she made the time and effort to stay healthy and eat healthy foods. Dreams of the future make the world of difference for kids whose reality today holds no appeal. Good luck.
Oh, LongTimeMother, thank you for your response. Things are going a little better. Two days ago, we finally got a signed and notarized power of attorney. Now all that's left is to turn in the petition for limited guardianship. Just need one more signature from Mom on that one and we're all set.
Congratulations. I hope her mother takes advantage of what you are offering and does the right thing by her child. Enjoy your lives together.
In answer to your original question, yes, it looks like you did the right thing. Absolutely. Keep us posted.
Will do. This child has been such a blessing in our lives. And she's grown so much just in the last few months. My biggest desire for her is that being with us will give her a chance to actually be a teenager. She's wise beyond her years and very mature, but some of that is because she's pretty much had to raise herself. Her mother loves her, of that I have no doubt. She just isn't equipped right now to take proper care of her children. We've done what we can for mom too, but, as usual, her daughter is much more receptive of what we have to offer.
I'll let you know how things go.
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