Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Seeing the Other Side...

As most of you know I attend Al-anon meetings twice a week. I have learned a lot at these meetings and enjoy them immensely. Recently there has been a woman who has attended my Friday night meeting who has really gotten me thinking.

For a couple of years now I have read a great blog about an adoptive/foster parent. She has adopted one child from foster care and also has anywhere from 1 - 5 other foster children at any given time. I love her blog and try to read it every day.

Recently she has been having some issues with the bio mom of two of her foster children. They have been to court a couple of times to try to get to the point of terminating parental rights because the bio mom is not doing what she is supposed to be doing. As I have read her side of the story I have found myself rooting for her, in a sense. I know how much she cares for these kids and I know nothing about the bio mom so I was almost hoping that they would terminate rights so that she could possibly adopt them.

Then I met this woman in my Al-anon meeting. Let's call her A. A has four children who are in foster care. A loves her children very much and becomes very emotional when she talks about them. She has made some mistakes but she is trying to turn her life around and regain custody of her children.

On Monday there was to be a hearing to possibly terminate A's parental rights. Suddenly things are looking a whole lot different to me. I don't know A well enough to know exactly what she has or has not done to regain custody of her children. I know her story, as she has told it to me and a part of me aches for her.

I know she has made mistakes but from where I sit it looks like she is trying. Shouldn't she at least get the chance to be in her children's lives? It breaks my heart to think that there is a possibility that they could terminate her rights and she might never be able to see her children again.

It is amazing to me how your perspective on a situation can be so different when you only hear it from one side. Perhaps in all we do we should take the time to consider that there could always be another side to every story.


Erin E said...

I think that you can try to lose weight, find a better job and make your marriage work but where kids are concerned, you shouldn't get a second chance. They are your children. They are your heart walking around outside of your body. They deserve their parents to be 100% regarding their emotional and physical well-being.

Heather said...

The problem with that is that by that theory my son would be living with someone else.

I love my son more than anything else in this world and I made a mistake, my husband made a mistake but we were allowed to better ourselves and take care of our son.

I refuse to believe that no one should be given that chance. I can't imagine my life without him. And as far as I'm concerned NO ONE is more qualified to be his mommy than me. :-)

Heather said...

I don't know why but I'm really letting that comment get under my skin. I know who wrote it and I know that they didn't mean it the way it is coming across to me.

It just seems so definitive. NO ONE should get a second chance. I just can't buy into that logic. People are human and they make mistakes. Some worse than others but I just can't buy into the idea that every mistake should be weighted evenly.

At the same time I used to be in the same position that Erin was. I used to think that and then my situation changed and I was living it instead of looking at it and suddenly the whole perspective was different.

That's all I'm really trying to get at is not everything is what it seems at first. There is always another side.

Anonymous said...

Everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone makes mistakes big enough to have their child taken away but in some cases it happens. Heather you can find comfort knowing that when a child is put in the foster care system the main goal is to try to reunite that child with their parent. You REALLY have to screw up and KEEP screwing up to not get the opportunity to see your child. Remember addicts are great liars. I'm not saying this woman doesn't want her kids but she's obviously not taking the opportunities to make herself better to get her kids back. If she followed even one of the steps of getting her kids back she would not be facing this hearing.

Kbreints said...

Heather, if your child needed to be taken from you he would have. They did all the follow visits, they did the doctor exam-- they did the meetings. There is no reason for your to feel like you slipped through the cracks. You are both good parents. Jake made mistakes-- so did you.

The difference between you & A is A obviously made larger more dangerous mistakes. She may have remorse....but that is not enough in most cases to warrent her getting her children back. You are hearing her side only.. you are not hearing the courts side. You are seeing her pain, you are not seeing her childrens pain.

I don't think that Erin's comment was wrong-- I also don't think that it was directed at you.

Anonymous said...

Why do you always ask for people's opinions or leave the door open for them but then disagree, argue or dispute them when they are voiced?

A~ said...

I do think people should get a second chance but I think that second chance should depend on how severe the issue and how certain the result could be.

The part that I think is being missed is usually or at least in the instances I am aware of, it isn't just a second chance it is a third and a fourth and a fifth and a sixth....AND for everything you know, there is at least half you don't.

Heather-you say your situation changed but if my memory recollects correctly you knew Jake was doing drugs long before your child came into the picture. I am only referencing that because you said "I use to think that and then my situation changed" Wasn't your situation always one of wonder and mischief? Or at least more times than not? There doesn’t need to be an answer for that I am just saying that I think (from everything you have said at least) you knew what you were getting in to. Which thankfully now, from the sounds of it at least, is water under the bridge.

I think there comes a time when people who have regretfully made mistakes need to own them and just say “I am so sorry I did ________, and so thankful for the outcome of ____________.” PERIOD….No excuses, no justifications, no nothing. Just own it, accept it, change it, and move on.

Heather said...

Why do you ask questions like that under the cover of anonymous? If you really want me to answer then I suggest you give me a name to associate with.

electriclady said...

I used to think that people shouldn't get second chances too. I live in NYC where terrible stories about abused children are in the papers every day.

But...the older I get, the more aware I am of human frailties. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone (ALL of us) is deeply flawed. It is very easy to sit in judgment of others, but until you have really lived someone else's life, you don't know what brought them there.

Should someone who beats their children get to keep them? No. But should someone who has made some bad decisions but is working hard to turn their life around get a second chance? Should a mother have every chance she can get to prove herself able to care for her own children? Does a child deserve to be cared for by his or her parents if at all possible. I believe yes.

And I think where your kids are concerned is the one situation where you should ALWAYS get a second chance.

Erin E said...

You realize, Heather, that had my husband not been in a position to take his daughter, she too would have been in foster care. Currently, her mom is in a hotel (having just gotten out of jail) and will now be getting her kids back from their respective fathers. They had to leave their school in January to go live with their dads. Now they are leaving that situation to live in a one room hotel with a tiny refrigerator and a microwave. She has been homeless more times than I can count. Her kids are not fed routinely. I can't tell you how many times we would pick D up and she was starving, hungry and exhausted. That was after just one weekend! So, when I made that comment I was thinking about her as well as my best friend's daughter who was thankfully adopted through the foster care system. Hers was a situation that no child should go through. I was by no means thinking of you. You are one of the best moms I know.

baggage said...

I think the bio parents do deserve a chance to get their kids back. They should be offered services and help to get their kids back, if it is at all possible.

However, they can't let that go on forever. They need to let the kids get some sense of permanancy. The law is written to give the parents 15 months to do something. If they are trying and working on their goals, the time can be extended. They want to send the kids back.

I don't doubt that A loves her kids or that Bubba and Snowbaby's mom loves them. But the question is, are they doing what it takes to be a good enough parent to them?

If they are really trying, they will not terminate the rights.

Also, one possibility would be for A to have an open adoption if her rights were terminated. Many foster parents would allow her to still be a part of the kid's lives if she was not dangerous.