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  1. #1

    Issues with drug affected children

    My husband and I are thinking about adopting two children who were exposed to meth in the womb. We have several questions regarding this.

    There are actually 6 children, 1 just graduated from high school so is not in the foster care system. The oldest girl is 16 and has been living with her boyfriend's grandmother since a little before the other children were taken into foster care. The other four children, three girls aged 13, 8, and 6 and a boy almost 3 are all in a foster home together. All these children are our nieces and nephews but we rarely ever see them since we live in a different state. It does not appear that the parents are making any progress in even trying to get off the drugs and they aren't consistent in visiting the children. It looks as though the children will be put up for adoption within the next few months. All the children were exposed to meth in the womb. All the children have witnessed their parents doing drugs. At least the three youngest children were taken from drug house to drug house with the mother over the course of two months, sometimes sleeping in campers or on the floor of nasty houses. Essentially, they've been exposed to a lot of things to which children should not be exposed. As far as we can tell, there was no sexual abuse but there is no way to be completely sure.

    My sister in law has said she will take all the children. They also do some drugs and this bothers me but they do have jobs. On one hand it would be nice to have all four of the children together but, on the other hand, she has two young children of her own. This would make 6 children for her. They live in a two bedroom house with one bathroom. 2 of my brother's in law routinely stay there so the total in that house would be as few as 8 and as many as 10. The children love them and want to live with them because they live nearby and see them regularly. My sister in law and I have been discussing splitting the children up since she doesn't feel she can give that many children the individual attention they need- my husband and I would take the two youngest and she and her husband would take the two oldest. I'm concerned about the mental health of the 6 year old. She misses her mom and dad and just doesn't understand what is going on. She thinks some day her mom and dad will come pick them all up from foster care and they will all be together again (this will never happen). I'm concerned how damaging it might be for her to be separated from her sisters since they have relied on each other all their lives. We do intend to purchase video phones and have one at our house and one at my sister in law's house so the kids can "see" each other any time they want. However, I'm not sure that is enough. It is a 13 hour drive from our house to theirs so they would probably only really see each other a couple times a year. Also, none of the children really know us. We are just the Aunt and Uncle that send them nice presents at Christmas. How damaging do you think this would be on her mental health? She would get a lot of love and attention with us as my family is very close but, is that enough?

    With regards to the little boy, he's bonded very well with the foster mother and seems pretty resilient. However, I'm not sure how he will deal coming from a family where 4 girls were always playing with him and looking after him (he's a tad needy). We've also considered just taking the little boy so that the girls could stay together. This might be a shock to him since he's used to having many children around and suddenly he would be an only child. He'd get a ton of attention but it's not the same as having other kids always there to play with. What do you think?

    Also, they seem to all be relatively normal kids but they have been exposed to drugs. They seem to be developmentally on track right now. Will affects of the drugs show up later? Or would they have already shown up by now?

    We want the best situation possible for these children. I think they need some extra positive adult attention and we can give that to them but we can't take all 4 children. Is it more harmful for them to be split up (2 and 2) and placed in loving homes that have the time, money, and space to give them everything they need but not be together? Or is it more important to keep them together?

    Thanks a lot.

  2. #2

    Issues with drug affected children

    This is a tough one -- I've been thinking about it off and on since yesterday and I'm really not sure what to say.

    My instinct is that the first choice would be to keep the children together... but if that isn't feasible, would they be more likely to be able to maintain contact with one another living in two households within the family rather than being adopted out of foster care?

    Has anyone asked the children how they feel about the options?

    Are the children seeing a counselor at all while in foster care? If so, have you asked he counselor for advice? Or COULD you have the children seen by a counselor to evaluate their situation?

  3. #3

    Issues with drug affected children

    They would definitely stay in contact with each other if they were split up between us and my sister-in-law as they could talk to each other on the video phone any time they wanted. However, they wouldn't have as much in-person contact- maybe twice or three times a year.

    The social worker claims that it is extremely difficult to find homes for 4 children together and that it rarely happens. If someone did want to adopt all four children outside the family, I wouldn't be adverse to it as long as we had visitations.

    The children are of hawaiian culture and, in the past before their mom and dad moved away from the family, they lived with their grandmother, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all in the same house. Family is very important in this family. Once the grandmother passed away about 7 years ago, the family kind of fell apart- they all depended on the grandmother telling them what to do and when to do it. I love all of them because they are my husband's family but, unlike my husband or my family, they do a lot of yelling and throwing things at each other. I don't know if it was like that when the grandmother was alive or not but it disturbs me since I've never been exposed to that type of behavior. My husband is very even tempered as are my parents and siblings. With this in mind, I'm not even sure that I want my sister-in-law and her husband having even two of the kids (but she is the only one that is even relatively in the position to do so). If the children are split up, it definitely needs to be among family or the two that went to non-family would feel rejected and that wouldn't be ok.

    I did ask the 16 year old girl what she thought about us taking two of the children and her other Aunt and Uncle taking the other two. After all, the 16 year old girl is the one that raised these children- not the parents as they were always on drugs. First she blurted out, "it depends on which two" but when I asked her which two she was referring to she backpedaled and said it would be best if they all stayed together and that the other Aunt would be the best choice. I realize I made a mistake in asking her which two children because, after all, she is still a child herself and shouldn't be asked these types of questions. Also, she said she wouldn't be able to see them if they were split up. This is understandable since she is still thinking of herself as the mom and wants to oversee them.

    We know what the answer would be from the other children without even asking them. They will want to stay together and go to the other Aunt. As I had said, they only see us occasionally and don't really know us so there would be some anxiety for any of them coming to live with us. We are essentially strangers to them. Asking them will not help us as we need to do what is best for them over the long run. However, it is hard to determine what is best.

    Our house is an ideal home as we are law abiding citizens, upper middle class neighborhood, excellent schools, and able to spend a lot of time with the children. My husband and I retired very young and only work when we feel like it. We feel guilty that we can't take all four children but we've never had children before and these children will come with a lot of baggage that will need personal attention. I don't believe I could do all of them justice and give them the individual attention they need. They would be even more distressed to be moved away from everyone they know and that would cause even more issues to deal with X 4. If I was an experienced parent it might be different but I'm sure I don't know what I'm getting myself into even offering to take two of the children.

    On the other hand, my sister-in-law has offered to take all 4 if she has to. I'm not sure that social services will allow her to have that many children living in that tiny house. And there have been a lot of police intervention at their house that I'm surprised didn't come up when the social workers checked them out so they could have visitations (including a police report filed on my brother-in-law where he threatened to kill someone on multiple occasions). So, eventhough, she is willing to take all 4 kids, she probably will not be allowed to. However, social services has not been very effective so far since they had granted unsupervised visitations to a child molester and I had to call down there and complain three times before they checked it out. Police came out when the incident had originally occurred last year but didn't write a police report. Social worker didn't know how to investigate the claim without a police report and I had to give her step by step instructions on what to do- interview the 16 year old girl in which one of the three instances occurred, contact the police dispatch office and get the logs for the day that the police had been out to the house (the logs will say which officers responded to the house), and interview the police. Too easy- but the social worker just didn't have a clue as to how to proceed without a police report.

    As far as counseling goes, from what I can tell they may not be seeing an actual counselor. They have weekly visits with a social worker or the social worker's intern in which they sit down and talk about things but it doesn't sound like real counselling to me and I'm sure they're not trained in counselling. I'm having a hard time getting much done since we live so far away. We requested telephone visitations about three weeks ago, and they still haven't been able to figure out how to do that. Granted, I do know the phone number where the kids are and the foster mom has said its fine for us to call any time but we are trying to go through proper channels. We also said we would send school supplies for all 5 of the children including the 16 year old that isn't in foster care and the social worker is insisting that everything we send come directly to her office. This is fine and we will do it but the foster mom has said just send it to her house. The social workers keep claiming that they are trying to get permission from the foster mom for the telephone visits and the ability to ship directly to her but we know this is not true since we have talked to the foster mom and the social workers haven't contacted her about any of that yet and she sees them every week.

    The good part is that the children have been assigned a very good lawyer so I'm hoping the lawyer is watching out for them.

    It' a pretty messed up situation for these children and I don't want to see them fall through the cracks.

    Frankly, I just don't know what to do. I don't want to see these children hurt anymore- emotionally or physically.

  4. #4

    Issues with drug affected children

    It does sound like it would be best to keep the children together but this is a real conundrum. I don't know what to say to you, frankly. It seems as though any solution but having all 4 children come to stay with you would have drawbacks...

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