Advice from a mom shoved in the system:

My advice to people who have to fight for their right to parent, based on what I have done right and what I’ve done wrong.

1. Never sign your rights away. Don’t sign an unfair mediation agreement, don’t sign a plea if you didn’t commit the crime. Make them take your rights away-that is appealable. Your signature is not. Good luck saying you were coerced. Even if you probably were, no one cares.

2. If you have to deal with a separation from your flesh and blood, your children, don’t let them see your grief. Find ways to let them know you are still home. You are still fun, you are still the boss, you are still the parent, you are still home. For me this has included sending their favorite groceries through amazon, creating structure in our two weekly 20 minute phone calls, singing songs I always sung to them, and always having a space that is theirs even if they have never slept in their new beds. I tell them stories about when they were little, we laugh, I make those moments “home”. Because I am their home. Always. And that is not an accident. It never was.

3. Don’t try and numb the pain. It doesn’t work and it will always make things worse for you. No matter what the battle is to be in your kids life-a clear head is necessary.

4. Go to therapy. This is really just good advice for life. Not just for parental rights battles. Therapy=good for all humans.

5. Find joy. This is a survival thing. My kids aren’t gone. So I can’t give up, or give in. I must survive, in order to do that, I must find joy. People,places, activities, products, food, smells, sights, and more. Find it. Hold it. Allow yourself to feel joy.

6. Don’t give up. This thing failed? Try something else. This person didn’t listen or care? Try someone else.

7. Be “see through”. Vulnerable. Healthy. Have nothing to hide.

Anyway, not sure if anyone needs this list. I hope you don’t. This shit is terrible. But here’s some stuff I’ve learned in the past few years. Happy New Year. Love, abby.

Reblogged from FB

Related Articles: What I wish I had known. Case Preparation Child Welfare Cases.

Words Matter.

Labels are necessary in many fields and for many reasons. Doctors use labels to diagnose, treat, and refer patients to other specialized services. Teachers use labels to organize, test, grade, and categorize students. There is no doubt that labels are not going to go away, but it is important to think about how and why we label people. Our words matter. Our jobs, our looks, and our religion define how the world sees us and how we see ourselves and this is how we see others.

Labels are all around us in everyday life and we seldom ask why. We are labeled, and we learn to label at early ages and throughout life. Pastor, criminal, crazy, artistic, police officer, judge, teacher, unworthy, insignificant, shameful, low-life, fat, ugly, bad, good, selfish, worthy, lazy, incompetent, nice, rude are some of the labels that people commonly use and we need to talk about this.

Getting the labels out in the open with our colleagues, friends, and family gives us the chance to discuss what the labels mean and why we use them. Is it appropriate to use labels? Discussing labels will make us aware of our own thoughts and prejudices.

Once we become aware of our own thoughts and prejudice we can make sense of them. We can accept that we are wrong sometimes. And as we become aware of how what we think and say affects how we treat others, we become more aware of how we want others to see us. Nobody wants to be the bad person that mistreats others.

There are things that we can do to remove stigmas and negative effects that happen because of labels. Be less judgmental and more supportive. Empowering other people is empowering. It feels good to make others feel good. Smile and the world smiles back. Don’t be judgmental and challenge your friends, but let your friends know how their words can affect other people in negative harmful ways. We catch more bees with honey. Identify stereotypes and negative feelings. Choose your words carefully, be supportive, and focus on the positive.

Doctors, teachers, and other professionals are going to label people as a way of communicating with each other. Some children may need special education classes even though they are excellent athletes and mechanics. The criminal justice system labels people with an intent to deter crime and protect society. And there are a lot of negative effects that happen when people are labeled.

Labels change the way that we feel about ourselves. Someone that has been convicted of a felony may have a lower self-esteem and that can lead to other unacceptable behavior and even self-fulfilling prophecy. Felons often have a hard time entering back into society and finding employment after serving time in prison.

Labeling theories hypothesize that official assignment as a deviant or criminal can lead to a person taking on the identity and criminal behaviors that eventually lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy with the person ending up in jail.

Labels have a ripple effect that ripples through a person’s entire lifetime. It is why it is so important to think about how and why we use labels. Labels can lead to changes in a patient’s self-esteem causing reduced contact with peers, unemployment, and even lead to deviant behavior. Labels can also increase confidence and self-esteem. With that in mind, it is important to consider the implications that labeling has on a person and on society.

Labels lead to a chain of events, but what is not accepted in one culture may be perfectly normal in another culture. Culture plays a huge role in labeling. Culture is more than just a person’s ethnicity. It can be a social group, a neighborhood, and even an occupation. Behavior that is accepted in one group may be thought of as deviant in another. For instance, here in the United States boys putting their hands in a basket full of stinging ants is not something anyone is going to do and if they did we would probably wonder if they had lost their mind. However, in Brazil boys put their hands in a basket full of stinging ants as an initiation process to show that they are brave.

Other examples of cultural differences can be seen in the way that we think about time. In the United States and in Japan someone will be considered unreliable if they do not show up on time and are not punctual. In other countries though, people do not see time the same way and may be offended by our hurriedness.

Labeling is an important subject to think about because in the real-world people are labeled at home by parents, in school by teachers and peers, and people are labeled by doctors when they are diagnosed with a disease or disorder. People are also labeled because of their occupation and income. Labels change the way the world looks at us and the way we look at ourselves.

Culturally deviance is decided by what is acceptable in a society and the United States is a mixture of many different cultures and not everyone has the same background experiences or values. People from different cultures will interpret experiences differently.

Here in the United States laughing is seen as a sign of happiness, but in Japan laughing is seen as a sign of confusion and embarrassment. Commonwealth countries such as Ireland understand the word “compromise” to be a positive word because it means that two parties agree.

Here in the United States, we think of compromise as giving in or giving up. Someone labeled as happy in the United States may be labeled as a confused lunatic in Japan and someone that is labeled a loser here in the United States for compromising may be praised in Ireland for their ability to negotiate compromise.

Related Articles: Homeless PeopleInterview With A Homeless CoupleFostered or Forgotten?

Is the foster care to prison pipeline the only answer for children whose parents have mental health conditions? Addictions?

Parents, Mental illness, Homelessness, Addiction, Foster Care, Prisons

A social worker recently confronted me with her concerns about parents who have been diagnosed with mental illness and homeless families. I have to agree with her that there are problems that should be addressed. However my personal belief is that family units should be preserved whenever possible.

Right now, state and federal governments are just beginning to make policy changes that are required by the Family First Preservation Act of 2018. Three years later states have not implemented the new law! Currently, as in the past decades, services are geared towards adoptive and foster families.

Biological family is almost always overlooked because before the Family First Act of 2018 the funding was only provided to states if the children were taken out of their homes, away from their entire families, and placed in out-of-home placements with complete strangers.

This led to children being crammed into group homes, stranger’s houses, and out-of-state placements with complete strangers. Many of the children are abused in the state placements and end up running away. Sometimes the children are killed in state placements. The children’s parent’s lives are also negatively affected. Their lives spiral out of control and become filled with grief, anger, and loss. Grandparent’s lives are also saddened and cut shorter by negative emotional and financial burdens that occur when governments destroy family units.

Children will run away and parent’s lives spiral out of control. The system causes more harm than good so new laws were made and states are supposed to be making the needed changes.

My response is as follows: Homelessness can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Mental health issues can also lead to homelessness. Families are for the most part ill-equipped to handle a family member with a mental condition. We need more NAMI’s to help everyday people cope with these kinds of issues. The National Alliance of Mental Health Illness (NAMI) has volunteers and paid counselors that can help individuals, family members, teens, youth, veterans, and others dealing with mental health issues.

Depression, unshakeable feelings of dread, despair, loneliness, and hopelessness seem to be leading signs and causes of suicide. Most of the suicide letters that I have seen include statements about “not seeing a way out”, or that the family “will be better off without me”. The context is usually about child support and custody situations taking place in family courts.

America has a problem! Family is the foundation of any society and courts are tearing our families apart! Parents who suffer from mental conditions fall into even deeper despair when their families are destroyed and they are told that they can never be parents because of their condition.

Studies also show that there is a high prevalence of mental illness in the foster care population and that many of the children will be homeless when they age out. When they age out, they do not have access to the drugs they have been prescribed to “help them cope” while they were in foster care. They turn to street drugs because the state’s literally have them addicted to prescription medicines they no longer have access to. Homeless people have difficulty accessing healthcare.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCLS) has collected data that tells us that children are prescribed doses higher than the maximum levels cited in guidelines developed by the FDA and that legislative action is being taken to address how states are doing this (NCSL, 2021).

The last I looked over 300,000 children less than a year old were prescribed adult doses of medications. Some I would guess were born of parents that were either taking street drugs or prescribed medications, but even if they were born addicted to some substance the amounts of psychotropic drugs they are being prescribed is concerning. What will their lives turn out to be like with no family ties and a bunch of pills to ease the pain?

Serious mental illness costs the United States an estimated $193.2 billion in lost earnings annually and only about 41% of persons with a mental disorder receive any treatment. Mentally ill patients are at higher risks of becoming homeless and homeless people do not have access to medical care and experience higher rates of adverse physical and mental health conditions, suicides, substance abuse, and respiratory diseases.

SAMSHA’s national mental health statistics show that yearly, about 42.5 million (18.2%) American adults suffer from some mental illness. Approximately 9.3 million adults (4%), experience severe mental illness that interferes with their daily lives. Nearly half, (45%) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity. Mood disorders affect about 20.9 million American adults (9.5%) with the median age being around 30 years old.

Homelessness does lead to bigger problems for an individual and for society. People with mental conditions and former foster children make up much of the homeless and prison populations. Reports showed that 50% of the girls in foster care become pregnant before 19 years of age, many (about half) before 18 years of age, 50% of foster children will be in prison within two years of aging out and 74% of foster children will end up in prison, 80% of the people on death row were in foster care (HHS, DOJ, Casey Family Foundation, National Coalition for Foster Children). Less than 3% of foster children will go to college!

The foster care system is broken and parents are having difficulty working through mental health and legal systems. Foster children don’t stand a chance! They are too young to advocate for themselves and are often passed through several homes. Usually more than one a month! They don’t get to have a permanent doctor or team to help them make it through life. This results in missed appointments, miscommunications, and a lack of proper care. Only about 25% of foster children receive services at any given time (Polihronakis, Tina, 2017).

Legislation was made a few years ago to provide for pediatricians to address mental health conditions in children, but are they actually qualified to make the diagnoses and help the child through what is happening in their lives to a healthy recovery. What I see is pediatricians prescribing medications for mental health issues and discussing it with lawyers and social workers instead of doctors and family members. 

As Christians I believe that we have to do better. In Biblical times children became orphans when their parents died. In today’s times, even Mary would be under fire by the state. After all, she did ride around the desert on a donkey, homeless and some would say hallucinating because she said she talked to angels and they talked to her. Jesus was not born in a hospital. He wasn’t even born in a house. Jesus was born in a barn. When I think about how to deal with homelessness, mental illness, and foster care, I have to think of it from a Christian perspective and ask myself, What would Jesus do?

Related Articles: Homeless People, Runaways, Mental Health Disparities, and Homelessness, Is It Ever Appropriate to “coerce” children into loving someone through force and court orders?

References

Casey Family Programs, (2021), https://www.casey.org/

Health.am, (2015), Mental Health Disorder Statistics, http://www.health.am/psy/more/mental-health-disorder-statistics/

KJV, King James Version of the Holy Bible, https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/

NAMI, (2021), National Alliance on Mental Illness, https://www.nami.org/home

NCSL, (2021), National Conference of State Legislatures, https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/mental-health-and-foster-care.aspx

Polihronakis, Tina, (2017), Information Packet: Mental Health Care Issues of Children and Youth in Foster Care, http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/information_packets/Mental_Health.pdf

SAMHSA, (2021),  mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov/

Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2019). Essentials of the U.S. health care system with access (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN: 9781284156720.

Runaways, Mental Health Disparities, and Homelessness

Socially, people may be afraid of the homeless population. There are many people that believe that there is something severely psychologically wrong with homeless people. Some cities even criminalize homelessness.

Not all homeless people suffer mental illnesses, but they are more likely to develop mental and physical illnesses so we need to think about runaways and what happens to homeless people. How do we treat them? How should we treat homelessness? Sometimes, people that suffer from mental illnesses will end up in the homeless population.

Homelessness is a growing problem and affects all of us. Homeless people can come from all walks of life. Some have good families that worry about them. Others may not. We find mentally ill people walking the streets, runaways, and children. We find homeless people living in the streets, in bathrooms, on downtown benches, in tents close to busy traffic lights, in temporary shelters, and sleeping on their friend’s couch. Homelessness is a growing problem both in the United States and globally.

Both the homeless population and people with mental illnesses face stigmas and biases that may prevent them from asking for help. It is hard sometimes for anyone to ask for help. For someone with a mental illness to get up and go to a doctor may be impossible for them to accomplish on their own. The same is true for a homeless person. They probably do not have access to doctors, dentists, and mental health professionals. They probably can’t take a shower and get ready to go see a doctor because they do not have access to the simple things that they need.

Serious mental illness costs the United States an estimated $193.2 billion in lost earnings annually and only about 41% of persons with a disorder receive any treatment. Homeless people though are more concerned with where their next meal is coming from and where they will find a safe place to sleep than they are about getting to a doctor’s office.

Homeless people do not have access to medical care and experience higher rates of adverse physical and mental health conditions, suicides, substance abuse, and respiratory diseases. One in two homeless people are without shelter making them susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Many homeless youth have been found living in uninhabitable dwelling places. Many homeless people face depression because of the stigmas that people have about them.

Homeless people will have difficulty qualifying for and receiving public assistance because they have no address or access to communicate with service providers. There is much debate about whether or not treatment first or housing first is the best approach to ending homelessness.

Nursing.net posted a study concluding that the treatment first approach gets people with substance abuse problems in treatment first but that the housing first approach costs less.

The housing first approach is not only more cost-effective but also a better approach to ending homelessness and the underlying issues that cause it. The housing first approach is a longer-lasting approach that enables homeless people and people with mental illnesses to access medical and mental health services.

Someone that is experiencing homelessness or a mental health episode may not be ready to ask for help or accept help right now, but next week or next month they may want help. I just can’t imagine trying to keep a doctor’s appointment if I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or where my next meal was going to come from, so I like the housing first approach is probably the best approach in most circumstances though sometimes treatment is needed right away to save someone’s life and should also be considered at the intake.

Most homeless people are men and a large number of them are under the age of 25. In January 2020, there were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness in America. Most were individuals (70%), and the rest were families with children. They lived in every state and territory, and they reflected the diversity of our country.

Specific subpopulations policymakers are concerned with include people in families with children (30%), unaccompanied youth (under age 25, 6%), people experiencing “chronic homelessness” belong to another group that is often singled out for attention (19%), and veterans (6%).

Risks of becoming homeless is significantly tied to gender, race, and ethnicity, and the biggest risks happens because of poverty. Males are far more likely (70%) to experience homelessness than their female counterparts.

Race is another significant predictor. Marginalized groups are more likely to be disadvantaged within the housing and homelessness spheres. Higher unemployment rates, lower incomes, less access to healthcare, and higher incarceration rates are some of the factors likely contributing to higher rates of homelessness among people of color.

Numerically, white people are the largest racial group within homelessness, however, racial groups are far more likely to experience homelessness as a result of segregation and discrimination in employment and housing. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have the highest rate of homelessness (109 out of every 10,000 people). Native Americans (45 out of every 10,000) and Black or African Americans (52 out of every 10,000). These rates are much higher than the nation’s overall rate of homelessness (18 out of every 10,000).

Children are often a priority for homeless services systems. As a result, families with children are least likely to be unsheltered, but runaways and young people not living with their families do not receive the same access to services.

It is estimated that unaccompanied youth make up 50% of the homeless youth population and they are unsheltered. 66% of all homeless people live with no shelter at all and often in places that are not meant for human habitation. Poverty is the highest risks factor that leads to homelessness.

SAMSHA’s national mental health statistics show that yearly, about 42.5 million (18.2%) American adults suffer from some mental illness. Approximately 9.3 million adults (4%) experience severe mental illness that interferes with their daily lives. Nearly half (45%) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity. Mood disorders affect about 20.9 million American adults (9.5%) with the median age being around 30 years old. Suicide rates in Wyoming are the highest in the U.S. while New Jersey has the rates for suicide. Depression, unshakeable feelings of dread, despair, loneliness, and hopelessness seem to be leading signs and causes of suicide. Schizophrenia affects about 2.4 million American adults (1.1%) in any given year (Health.am, 2021). The Pacific Northwest and the Midwest seem to suffer more from mental illness than other regions.

Racial profiling can traumatize people of color making their daily life experience different from Caucasians. Racial and ethnic minorities have less access to mental health services and may not receive the same level of care. Statista shows that as of April 2021, around 25.5% of U.S. black, non-Hispanic public health workers reported having depression in the past 2 weeks, while 32.4% of white, non-Hispanic health workers reported the same. The numbers may not be accurate because other populations are not included in the study and because some people such as homeless people, do not have access to care.

Related Articles: Homeless People, Interview With A Homeless Couple, Fostered or Forgotten? , Our Words Matter.

References

All Answers Ltd. (2018). Comparison of the Housing First and Treatment First Methods of Reducing Homelessness. Retrieved from https://nursinganswers.net/case-studies/comparison-of-the-housing-first-and-treatment-first-methods-of-reducing-homelessness.php?vref=1

CDC, (2020), Homelessness as a Public Health Law Issue, Center for Disease Control, Retrieved From, https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/resources/resources-homelessness.html

Community Solutions, (2021), The Challenge, Homelessness is a problem that’s more costly to ignore than to solve. Homelessness is a complex, life-threatening problem. It can be solved — but only if systems are built to get to zero.  Retrieved From, https://community.solutions/the-challenge/

Health.am, (2015), Mental Health Disorder Statistics, http://www.health.am/psy/more/mental-health-disorder-statistics/

Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2019). Essentials of the U.S. health care system with access (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN: 9781284156720.

State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Retrieved From, https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-2020/

Statista, (2021), Prevalence of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal ideation in the past 2 weeks among public health workers in the United States as of April 2021, by race/ethnicity, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1255157/prevalence-select-mental-health-conditions-by-race-in-us/

Is It Ever Appropriate to “coerce” children into loving someone through force and court orders?

Addiction, foster care, court orders, counseling, churches, and news media

A Fox News reporter, Megan Fox recently asked, “Do you think it’s ever appropriate to “coerce” children into loving someone through force and court orders?” My first instinct is to tell parents to stay away from court systems. I think I am going to stick with my gut instinct on that one. Giving complete strangers that work in courts control over your life is just an all around bad idea. This particular story is a hard call because they are already in the court system and I do not know the whole story. I doubt that any of us ever will. We may know one side or the other, but I doubt that we will ever actually know the whole story. Not knowing the whole story though I think that Megan Fox makes some good points, but leaves out some good points too.

Megan Fox’s post

My first thought is that she is being too harsh on the mother in her story. Apparently the author has been working with the dad and is biased against the mother because of drug use. A lot of people are. I wonder if Dad was dad using too? Did he quit and Mom continued? And then my mind wonders to all the scenarios that could have happened. Did Dad get clean and run Mom off? Did she have family support? Is there another man? Or another woman? There are so many things that could have happened to this family that we don’t know that it is hard to make any judgment.

Plenty of drug addicts get to foster and adopt. Was she forced out of their life or did she just leave for no reason? Addicts don’t do drugs because it makes them feel good. Maybe in the beginning but it turns into something that they know hurts them and they can’t quit, or maybe the family was so hateful that they kept pushing her back to the people that accepted her.

And then, think about the recovering addicts in the churches running countless foster children through their homes every month. I guess that because they are “state approved” they never relapse like normal addicts that are not state approved do. Right???? It’s just a hard call to say anything about Mom or Dad one way or the other at this point. Why does Dad want media attention? …… And then there is a parents job to teach moral and Biblical skills and knowledge. Forgiveness is the key to healing one’s own self more than the person being forgiven. We never know what God has planned. I think it is dangerous ground to interfere with the hierarchy of authority that God makes. Once parental authority is broken trust issues never really get solved.

It can take generations for a family to heal. I thought about how damaging this story could be for the family and I had to ask others what they thought. So I went to a parenting group and asked them what they think about it. I received several answers from a diverse group of parents and family members. Some are foster and adoptive parents while others are biological parents. One parent said, “People don’t want to adopt drug babies. They cry a lot and have developmental problems. Cps will give the drug addicts a lot of chances to get their kids back cause no one else can get paid enough to take them. The healthy drug free baby is one that is hard to get back and these nurses and doctors are actively seeking them to steal.” Another woman that is foster approved disagreed saying, “Drug addict babies can make a full recovery. The key is to get them to bond to a caregiver immediately”. I jumped in saying that I don’t know if the children ever “fully recover”, they may learn to cope. How do you recover from losing your family over drugs? The foster mother came back saying, “They did a study in Ohio back in 2015. I am sure there is always residual underlying issues but generally speaking the new born can recover. This issue is when you take a baby, put them in with a foster family, wait 2 years and then reunited them with their mom( who at that time would be more of a stranger). The idea for this babies is to have 1 strong caregiver. Not bouncing back and forth because mom can’t recover”.

“This issue is when you take a baby, put them in with a foster family, wait 2 years and then reunited them with their mom( who at that time would be more of a stranger). The idea for these babies is to have 1 strong caregiver. Not bouncing back and forth because mom can’t recover”.

So here we go. My concern exactly is that once the family hierarchy is destroyed, what happens next. Foster care, jails, a not so bright future. The discussion turned to more of a religious conversation after the foster determined that it is God’s will for her to convince everyone that God’s will is for church members to take addict’s children into foster care. We will have to do another story on that one. Is it ever appropriate to “coerce a child into loving a parent through court orders? I may have to agree that it would be appropriate if a foster that was supposed to take care of a child temporarily decided that they were not going to give the child back. What do you think? Tell me in the comments below. Avatar looking calm. They're standing and dropping a microphone to the ground.

Other Articles:

INTERVIEW WITH A HOMELESS COUPLE

What I wish I had known. Case Preparation Child Welfare Cases.

What I wish I had known. Case Preparation Child Welfare Cases.

Child Welfare Case Preparation

I wish I had known to DOCUMENT AND RECORD EVERYTHING when i had to deal with government agencies. I thought I could trust the people that worked for the state and I was really naive. Now I know, and though documenting and recording any involvement with government agents is a must, I am going to share a few helpful hints for parents who have to deal with the Department of Health and Human Services DIVISION of Families and Children Child Protection Services workers.

Your House:

  • This means locking knives, guns, and poisonous cleaning supplies and other chemicals where children cannot get to them.
  • Make sure your yards are safe.
  • Vaccinate your animals. You may need to build a fence to keep large animals away from small children.
  • Get ready for “the white glove test”. This means making sure that your house is safe and clean. Clean ceiling fans, the top of the refrigerator, behind the toilet, and any other place that you can think of that you may have forgot the last time you cleaned.
  • Do not forget to pay your utilities. The person that inspects your home will make sure that you have cold and hot running water and electricity.
  • Prove that you can financially care for your children. Keep, clothes, hygienic items, and food. Be ready to prove income to support your children consistently.
  • Laws pertaining to discipline vary across the states. Be familiar with the laws in your state. Take parenting classes if you need to. There is no shame in learning to be a better parent.
  • Let the worker know how much you care for your children and that you can emotionally care for your children.

Transportation:

  • Think about how important transportation is to you and your children.
  • If you own a vehicle, make sure it is clean and maintained.
  • Make sure the insurance is up to date.
  • If you do not own a vehicle, think about other ways that you can safely get your children to a doctor or school and other events. Are there buses, taxis, or other rideshares in your area that can safely transport you and your children?
  • If there is an emergency, do you know what number to call for an ambulance or the police?

Preparing for the Court:

  • Make a home office space somewhere in your home where you can safely keep important documents.
  • Get folders, a file cabinet, or boxes to store all of your paperwork in your safe office space.
  • Invest in a scanner/printer and other office supplies so you can stay organized and keep your originals in order. Scan these into GOOGLE DRIVE or another online source so that if you file complaints, they are easy to forward to the complaint investigator.
  • \Mark your calenders. Calenders are a good way to keep up with important dates and times.
  • Keep a Journal of important events with details of times, dates, places, people, phone numbers, addresses, offices, anything related to your case that may be important. (Sometimes we don’t think it is important but it really is so keep track of EVERYTHING.)
  • Make a couple of copies of your documents. Only share copies of your documents and evidence. Do not give your original documents away. I keep my originals in a separate file cabinet so that I do not get them mixed up with the copies and give the wrong one or too many away. Make sure you keep your original documents safe and don’t give them away. I keep one file cabinet for the originals and another file cabinet for the copies that I can easily grab to share with lawyers, legislators, or court clerks.
  • Create a “Timeline of Events” for your case. This is a good way to take what is on your calender and in your journal, along with your other documents that are stacked up in your file cabinets and make it all make sense. On a page or two highlight events; courtdates, meetings, important phone calls, visitations, shared parenting meetings, community family team meetings, child planning conferences, mediation meetings, or notifications. Things that happen that are key to what is going on in your case.  Keep all of the evidence of these events in your file cabinet or box in case you need them and just highlight in a few words or sentences what that big stack of paperwork is all about and in what order it all happened.
  • Save and make copies of text messages and emails.  
  • Get copies of case files, court transcripts, and even previous court documents that may exist (child support, child custody, etc). These can be obtained from the court clerk . (There is usually a fee to obtain files.)
  • Obtain any new case files that may be filed in between court dates. Sometimes these are filed right before court so you need to get files before and after each court date.
  • Identification; driver’s license or other state id.
  • Photos you can copy that are dated and show evidence of things in a clear fashion; like if your child comes to visitation with a huge bruise on his arm, take a picture close up of the bruise and further away so the bruise can be identified as belonging to him.  You will need at least three copies of each photo if you intend on submitting it to the court.
  • Recorded phone calls need to be transcripted by a court-approved transcriptionist if you want to introduce them as evidence.
  • Your Local District Court Rules.  Every district court (or collection of counties court) has their own rules to abide by which you will need to abide by. It is also helpful because most of the rules have outlines of education and requirements of attorneys to be able to practice as a court-appointed attorney in that county.
  • Previous client-attorney files of past attorneys, whether court-appointed or private. You can usually email them and request that they give it to you.
  • Prepare for what you will say in court.

Advocate:

  • Prepare a three minute, five minute, fifteen minute, and thirty minute speech. We never know how much time we will be given to speak so it is important to think ahead and make words count.
  • Learn to advocate for yourself and your children. Talk to lawyers and social workers to find out what they expect and require from you.
  • Hire a lawyer. I interview lawyers before I pay them. I want to know that they do not have any conflicts and that they are on my side and understand that I expect them to fight with me for my family. You will hear that there are lawyers out there that just take your money and do nothing for you and that can be very true and very sad. There are also lawyers out there that will fight for you and your family. Make sure that the lawyer you hire is up to date with current laws and policies that may affect your outcomes. One such policy is the Family First Preventative Services Act of 2018. This act allows states to be paid for kinship placements though not all states have implemented this law yet, it is still law. There may be new laws in your state that legislators have passed that lawyers may not know about. Recently Arkansas passed laws that require fathers and other family members to be represented in child custody and child protection cases.
  • Ask your lawyer to record hearings.
  • Hire your own court reporter. Court reporters can record and document proceedings for you.
  • If they require you to talk to their doctor, psychologist or to take a drug test from one of the courts testers, do that, and also hire your own doctor or psychologist that can make evaluations and testify in court. You can also go to various places for drug tests. Go to the one you are court ordered to go to, and if the result is a false positive, go straight to the next reputable tester and test again. 25% to 50% of those tests give false positives. Sometimes an over the counter medication or prescription can also make a drug test look dirty.
  • Make use of notaries and certified mail to document evidence and communications. It may be necessary to sign power of attorney over to a grandparent or other family member. Notaries can sometimes be cheaper than lawyers for this.
  • Keep your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites clean. Judges, employers and other people with authority look at social media posts.

Find Case Laws and Learn what is happening. Judges, lawyers, and child protection workers do this every day. You are just plugged into their routine so learn what the process is and how to communicate with them. Some federal acts that may be relevant to your case include; the UCCJEA, VAWA, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Indian Child Welfare Act, and Family First Act.

A useful resource: What Are Buzzwords and Why Do They Matter?

Related Articles: From a mom shoved on to the system:, How to approach a legislator, lawyer, judge, and any other important person in a legal case.,

Case #8300

Reblogged from another platform ….This month of National Adoptee Appreciation Month means more to me than some of my non adopted people could ever start to comprehend. I was left on the steps of an orphanage, without a name. I was taken in and eventually given a case number thru Holt International as they proceeded to prepare me for adoption.

I am case #8300 and became Choi, Kyung-ae/ai. I am an international transracial adoptee. I am one of over 220,000 South Korean babies adopted out. Korea was the largest child exporter for years generating an estimated 3.3 billions of dollars between adoption agencies and Korea.

Not all cases were legitimately done. I became a survivor of domestic violence in the form of child abuse of near 15yrs as a young adoptee. I tried to commit suicide at age 8 and no one knew about this attempt until my late adult life, including my adopted family of which some still don’t know, until now. I am also an aged out foster child.

I am indebted to Honorable Judge Robert Foster, my attorneys, the late John Torreano and then prosecuting attorney, Michael Kusz, and finally, social worker, Susan Cox who’d been part of my case since a child. I did not choose my life, my parents or have a say who could adopt me. However, I love my adopted family and they mean everything to me and they love me.

Though my story is deep, complex, full of trauma and intricate sadness, not sure if I would trade it in. I became the fierce woman I am today, because of my circumstances. Understand this, not all adoption stories are wonderful and fairy tale like.

I share my story for raw and pure awareness of how complicated adoptions are, human trafficking is real, and when there’s suffering, it’s the adoptee who does the most suffering along with birth parent(s).

My fellow adoptees, it is our time to be heard…across the globe. This is my story, these are my truths, this is my pain. #truthislouder, #naam2020 ~ Tabby Tab

Do the best you can until you know better.

Day 6 #notmynaam#naam2020“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

Most adoption happens when a child is removed from their own family in order to “grow” or “complete” another, non-related family. This is what happened to me. I grew up as an only child. This was both a blessing and a curse.

It was a curse in that I missed out on knowing that I have at least 4 siblings. I missed out on knowing what it was like to have a sibling relationship. I missed out knowing them, as human beings, as my siblings, until I found them more than 36 years after being separated from them. (I was the only one of the 5 of us who was adopted.)

It was a blessing in that I didn’t have to grow up in a family that had any biological children of their own. I don’t think I could have handled that on a psychological or emotional level. I didn’t look like anyone in our household, but neither did anyone else, and I dealt with that pain alone.

But my mom and dad both have siblings. And their siblings have children (and, by now, grandchildren). Back when I was growing up, I either traveled with my mother or father (they divorced when I was 2 years old) on vacation. Either way, we almost always went to visit their respective siblings’ families – my aunts & uncles & cousins.

Being in those spaces, sitting around the dinner table with their families, watching tv on the sofa with their families, was incredibly sad for me because they all looked alike. Between my mom’s and dad’s side, there were 3 sets of aunts/uncles, and they each had 2 children. Each set of cousins looked like their sibling. And each set looked like their parents. And they all looked like the photos of their grandparents and great aunts and uncles. And then there was me.

To lose your own family – without a trace – is horrific. But then to be placed in situations in which you are subjected to small, nuclear family groups who have and take for granted the very core familial relationships you lost…and who are also the only family you have ever known…and who are also very kind and loving to you (except in that they don’t recognize the re-traumatization you are living through each and every time you are A Part of their daily lives while also being Apart)… it’s an undescribable pain and feeling of separateness and otherness.

Like I said, I don’t think I could have handled growing up as an adoptee in a household in which there were biological children. It may sound weird, but I am grateful I didn’t have to.

Without recognition and validation of the deep and nuanced impacts the loss of their entire family has on an adopted person, especially when they are children and absolutely need guidance to manage their grief and trauma in a healthy way, then even well-meaning adoptive parents are inevitably going to continue to re-traumatize their child through seemingly mundane, everyday (family) activities.

Without experiencing that loss, it simply wouldn’t occur to most people that some of the things they consider normal and joyful may actually be very hurtful to an adopted person.

Adult adoptees are speaking up about the various ways their initial trauma was multiplied during their childhood by the uninformed acts of “adoption professionals” (like non-adoptee, non-adoptee-trauma informed social workers) and adoptive parents alike. Now that we know better, I expect today’s adoptive parents to do better. There are no excuses. ~Abby Forero Hilty

You have adopted children in your classrooms.

See the source image
Janet Carter The Free Press

Reblogged from anpther site: …….Please share & tag your teacher friends ❤️You have adopted children in your classrooms. I was one of them! Now I’m almost 30 and able to express some of ways I was hurt during my school-age years by well-meaning educators. My intention isn’t to shame anyone, but to hopefully open your eyes to some of the situations I was put in. Some were just awkward, some were harmful. I know you love your students & want to do right by them, which is why you’re reading these words.

1. There may be adoptees in your class and you don’t even know it. I had a pretty uncommon last name growing up and attended a small community school corporation. I dreaded the first day of school because, like clockwork, this conversation took place, sometimes multiple times a day once I was old enough to switch classes…Teacher taking attendance: “Morgan ____ – oh, are you ___’s sister? I should have known – you look so much like her/your mom!” Me: Instant cringe! I am not genetically related to my sister! Or my mom! I know that I cannot look like them because we are not actually related.

Now I’m in an awkward position – do I say something and potentially make the teacher feel bad? But moreover…this teacher *seems like a liar to me and someone I can’t trust* because they’re saying something that isn’t true. I don’t look like people who aren’t related to me, but you’re saying I do, and now I remember that I’ve never actually seen anyone who looks like me and I’m spiraling for the rest of the class time.

My anxiety takes over and I have a stomach ache. I wonder if and when I should tell this teacher the truth. When I tell them I’m adopted, it’s always such a big deal and they say a lot more awkward things and it doesn’t seem worth it.

2. Please get rid of family tree assignments! Because…which family?! I feel like a big fat phony faker writing down my adoptive family, because I know it’s not actually where I came from. But I also don’t know where I came from, so I can’t write that down either. And please don’t just make an adjusted lesson for adopted students – because, as previously mentioned, you might not even know who the adoptees are!

Students might also be the children of adoptees! I imagine my own daughter would struggle with such an assignment because she knows my adoption story. If state standards/curriculum require a family tree project, can it be about characters of a novel the class had read, or a historical figure instead?

3. Same goes for genetic traits! Oh, biology class. Please don’t ask me to figure out my parents’ possible blood types based on my own. Or eye color. Reminder after reminder after reminder that I don’t know where I came from, I don’t look the same as my family, and it feels like everyone else here does. These type of assignments can still be done in a more generic way, not with our own personal situations.

4. Baby/childhood photos Depending on the time of their adoption, many kids might not have access to pictures of themselves as a baby or as a child. And please don’t do something stupid like “Well, just draw a picture of yourself instead!” Adoptees already struggle with identity. We don’t know who we are. Now you want me to draw it for you? BIG YIKES, teach.

5. Don’t tell adopted kids they are “chosen” or “special” This is like, the chief complaint of adoptees I know. We don’t want to be special, we want to be normal. Special is pressure. Special is a high standard to live up to. Special is the nightmare for adolescents who just want to fit in with their peers. We also were not chosen – no one lined up 100 potential babies in front of our parents and asked them to choose the one the liked best. I know it comes from a good, well-meaning place. But we’re adopted not because we are special or chosen, but because we are no longer with our biological families. That’s it. We know this. We wish everyone knew this and would be okay with it, instead of trying to put a positive spin on it.

It makes me feel like I’m not allowed to be sad. It makes me feel like my loss doesn’t matter.——————-Teachers, I know it’s already just *so much*. This year has been an entire cluster and dumpster fire and you’ve been pushed to the limits of your professional capabilities and sanity. I admire you all.

Thank you for wanting to love your students well. Thank you for caring enough to keep learning about them. Adopted children grow up and you are a formative part of their upbringing. Thank you for doing the work to be a positive part of their story.#nam2020#naam2020#nationaladoptionmonth#adoptee#adopteevoices#teacherlife#notyourorphan#teachersoftiktok#teachergoals#teachersrock#listentoadoptees#adoption#fostercare#ffy#RedforEdAdoptive FamiliesFoster Care & Adoption#truthislouder ~Morgan Shea Massey

Pastor, board member of a foster parent association, a father of adopted children himself, arrested for producing and transporting child pornography

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas announced in a statement that a grand jury indicted David Pettigrew, 48, and Chad Michael Rider, 46, on charges of conspiring to sexually exploit children. Pettigrew was also charged with transporting child pornography.

Pettigrew was the head pastor of Denison Church of the Nazarene, a board member of a foster parent association, a father of adopted children, a crossing guard, and a substitute teacher at Neblett Elementary. Pettigrew is also married to an unnamed school teacher who is a mandated reporter!