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grandbabymomma

Permanent Guardianship VS. Custody VS. Adoption?

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 I've had guardianship  of my 2 yr. old granddaughter for 12 month due to abuse by the mothers paramour. When this nightmare began I was assured by DCF that after 12 months of the case plan being followed (or not, in this case) If the parents (BOTH parents) did not significantly abide by the plan, IE get there lives in order enough to be responsible for their child, their parental rights would be terminated and the child would be available for adoption. So now it's 12 months later. Mother has refused to leave the abuser, has been arrested, spent a month in jail and recently tried to commit suicide, totaled her car, got her license suspended for 5 years, has no job and is homeless! Father (my son) is currently wanted by the police for theft and failure to appear, has no job, no driver license, no home of his own and is expecting another child with a married (to someone else) methadone addict with 2 kids that she lost custody of!

DCF contacted me last week and asked me how I felt about Permanent Guardianship. It' seems to me  the 12 months are up, they want/need to close the case and since they couldn't manage to hold the parent's feet to the fire they want to bail on me and dump their responsibilities in my lap. As much as I would love to see them get out of my life, if I agree to this, I will be the one to determine visitation etc. This is not what I signed up for! I really never expected the parents to get their "poop in a group" and I would adopt my grandbaby in a minute and tell the deadbeats to get lost! However, It seems that DCF has baited and switched on me.

 SO MY QUESTIONS ARE: can anyone explain the differences between Permanent Guardianship, Custody and adoption as they pertain to my unfortunate situation?  Can I refuse Permanent Guardianship? Can I make DCF follow through with the plan that THEY came up with in the beginning (TPR/adoption?) What the heck is Permanent Guardianship mean anyway? until she's 18? Is this common? HELP! THANKS..

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A permanent guardianship simply means that you would become the child's legal guardian with the power to raise her as you see fit until either she turns 18 or the court terminates or modifies the guardianship order.  Depending on the wording of the order, either or both of the parents could be required to pay child support to you for the duration of the guardianship.  Also depending on the terms of the order, you could have the authority to specify whether (if at all) the parents would have contact with the child, the nature of the contact, and under what circumstances the contact could take place.  Your attorney can help you draft a guardianship agreement acceptable to the court that would for all practical purposes give you total parental control over the child, albeit without recognizing you as the child's mother.

 

Actions for TPR and adoptions are tricky, expensive and time-consuming under the best of circumstances, and often fraught with legal pitfalls.  It's possible that DCF now considers that in the long run a permanent guardianship will be best both for you and for your granddaughter.  Frankly, I'm surprised that the DCF caseworker implied up front that TPR and adoption would be accepted as a matter of course after 12 months, because that's almost never what actually happens.  I realize this must be a great disappointment to you, but I strongly recommend that you take this opportunity to place the child's needs ahead of your desires and work with the court to hammer out a guardianship that addresses those needs.

 

Note that once the guardianship is in place, you are still free to pursue the adoption option as time, circumstances and your resources allow.  The longer it takes for the parents to get their act together, the better the chance of the court's recognizing the need to terminate their rights.  Good luck!

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Platinum Contributor,

            Thank you for your kindness, wisdom, and time. It has always been my hope that these "grown ups" grow up and get their lives in order so either one of them could raise their child. As the months go by and I see the foolish, destructive way they live their lives, my hope diminishes. It confounds me to no end. What worries me about  Permanent Guardianship is 1: it gives the parents a pass to drag this out indefinitely while the child gets older and more bonded and with us. To allow them to up-root her again is just unconscionable to me. The mother actually got a judge to approve a home study on a homeless shelter! Thank God the shelter has more sense than the judge, they wouldn't allow it!  She also got approval for the child to visit her in jail! 2:  I do not want to deal with DCF's foolishness for God knows how long! 3: I can't allow the drama and nonsense, that is a normal part of the parent's lives, to interfere with the calm, God loving, stable environment that my husband and I provide for our 15 yr. old daughter. I just can't be the referee to their "game."

                                                               Thanks again for your response. You've given me a new way to look at this :)

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While you say in your original post that you have had guardianship of your granddaughter for the last 12 months, the facts you provide make me suspect that what you actually have is physical custody, not a legal guardianship, and DCF has retained legal custody.  That is, you are effectively more of a foster parent than a guardian.  Transferring guardianship to you (which DCF seems to agree is in the child's interest) will serve to get DCF, the parents and the court out of your hair, at least until the parent(s) finally get their act together.  I believe it's the absence of a guardianship, not the existence of one, that has allowed the worries you describe above.

 

Please, sit down with the caseworker and find out in detail how a permanent guardianship will affect your relationship with your granddaughter and her parents (as well as the state) differently, then take any remaining concerns to a local family law attorney who can listen to all the facts and apply the appropriate state laws to help you chart a course through this intricate and often confusing procedure.

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Hi grandbabymomma,

 

Since your situation sounds complicated, and the legal solution that best serves your granddaughter's interests is likely to be equally (and likely more) complicated, I agree with Ted that you really might want to consult with a family law attorney. He/she will be able to flesh out the various issues involved in your case, determine your best course of action, and guide you through the appropriate legal process (whether it be adoption, permanent guardianship, etc.). I wish you the best of luck!

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You do realize that you raised your son when he was

a child and supposed to be learning adult values and

responsibilities?

 

Would you prefer that the grandchild now be placed in foster 

care with strangers?

 

I do realize that dealing with DCS caseworkers can be

frustrating.

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Thanks Ted_from_Texas & Findlaw_JN. I agree with you both about hiring a Family Law Attorney and I have. I met with him once a while back while dealing with another fiasco concerning this case. I am just eager to find out as much info. on my own so I don't have to pay for advice I can get here. I do foresee using his services again in the future.

 

      Ted from Texas, I think you are correct about custody/guardianship issue. We are considered "Kinship caregivers" which is in the realm of the Foster Parent system. That just goes back to the original question about Custody, Perm. Guardian & adoption. It's more confusing than it needs to be. Seems like each agency involved have different uses/meanings for these words or uses them interchangeably. 

 

      As I look back at my questions, I notice that I said I want DCF out of my life the I said I didn't want them to close the case and dump their responsibilities on me. That should tell you a little bit about the relationship I have with them! We have had 6 caseworkers in 12 months and so much has happened it's hard for me to keep it all straight. They all assure me they've read the file but I don't have much faith that our brand new caseworker, that we met one time ( a week before the 12 month review,) has an appreciation for how desperately we all need to protect this child.

       

    The case plan I received says overall Goal Compliance Expiration date 10/12/2014

Although Florida law permits case plans of up to 12 months, section 39.806, Florida statutes, permits termination of parental rights 9 months after the date a child is removed from the home or the date the case plan is accepted by the court, whichever is shorter. The case plan must be limited to as short a period as possible for accomplishing its provisions.

 

FAILURE TO SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLY WITH THE CASE PLAN MAY RESULT IN THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS SOONER THAN THE COMPLIANCE PERIOD SET FORTH IN THE CASE PLAN. 

  

   This is the  "PLAN" everyone has been following thus far. Now, the "PLAN" has changed!  I had nothing to do with making it. DCF did. The parents agreed to it & I got a copy of it! I got reassurance from multiple agencies that this would not/could not be dragged out for more than 12-18 months. This is why I feel "baited & switched." I just want the people that make the rules to follow them! Most of all I want this precious child to have some chance of having a normal life with a chance of becoming a happy, productive adult some day. Which brings me to your snarky comment explorer13, Yes, I do realize that I failed miserably at teaching my son adult values and responsibilities. I've wondered a million times where I went wrong. I've asked myself many times if I'm the best person to raise this little girl given my past failure. I don't know the answers. I do know that I raised my looser son's older brother in the same home and he's doing very well in life (married, employed, responsible, legal, moral and a wonderful father) and my 15yr. old daughter who makes straight A's loves to go to church and is every parents dream of a perfect kid. I know that I love My granddaughter more than words can explain and will do everything in my power to give her the life she deserves. You asked if I'd prefer that my granddaughter now be placed in foster care with strangers? That question is too stupid to bother answering. I have to agree with your last statement, Dealing with DCF caseworkers can be frustrating.

 

                       Thanks again everybody for your help. This has been enlightening and therapeutic for me! 

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Wow- this sounds like my situation. I also live in FLorida. I obtained guardianship of my granddaughter after her school filed a complaint about the mother (who under court order is not supposed to be alone or have unsupervised visits with chld) showed up to the school on several occassions to pick up the child while she was under the influence. Since she had already been in the system before a case worker was sent immediately to the home, only to find her living  there -in my son's apartment- upon inspection of the premisies they found her runaway son (whom she is not even allowed to see) hiding in the closet with a girl- mother came up postive for several drugs including cocaine on a drug screen- my son arrived from work and both parents were placed under arrest- interfereing with child custody- that started the long chain of events and my granddaughter who is now four has been with me for almost a year. We too have just had our first visit with our 5th CPI worker one week before our jr court date- this is supposed to be our final court appearnace. I have instead of permanent guardianship requested adoption and they are going to present this to the court- neither parent have done their case plan, and while the mother is completely out of the picture, my son continues to plead with me "I'm dying w/o her, she should be with me, I'm the one that is never supposed to fail her" yet has done nothing to complete his case plan. Has had only mayby five visits with her, does not support her in any way, it's too much trouble for him to make arrangements to see her through the CPI office ( I stopped doing supervised visits after being manipulated and put in situations (he tried to have the mother meet up with us in public places and on the one time our paths did cross she was so drunk there was no way I was going to let this drunk woman pick up and hug the child, she could have fallen over drunk and hurt the child or attempted to run off with her, plus she didn't need to be exposed to this- I had to literally pull away with the car door open because she would not get away from the car.

 

Have you been apointed a guardian ad-litem? While I am very frustrated with the many changes in case workers- the last one was ready to leave after 15 seconds- she only wanted my signature on the paper to prove she had been there.

 

I feel very fortunate to have the school, her psch counselor and the guardian ad-litems behind me. She came to me with a lot of behavioral issues and has really done a 180.

 

Use your resources. You have the right to request adoption if you are not comfortable with the fact that they could come back in a year ot two or three once they have grown up and petition to take her out of the stable, loving enviroment she is in now. Most judges don't want to see these things drag out especially if the parents are not making an effort. Don't give up. It is frustrating. I have come to know a network of grandparents raising their grandchildren.

 

I never thought I would be one of them as I had hopes and dreams that a child would change them and make them more responsible, but it hasn't. Remember the childs life does not stop because they can't get it together. She has the right to be happy, healthy, safe and secure. I know your doing the best you can for her. Don't give up. There is a light at the end of the tunnle.

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Like the last person that replied, WOW sounds exactly like my situation. My daughter recently even tried to commit suicide. I live in Florida too. I've had my granddaughter since she was 23 months old. She will be 4 in November. I am the paternal grandfather. My wife left because this was not what she signed up for. It's not an easy job but I wouldn't change it for the anything. Bottom line on permanent guardianship verse adoption is not only is it expensive and time consuming to adopt but you will loose all state benefits like daycare, medical and dental insurance, food assistance and a small monthly income. The state will also pay for college.

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TomJack7799,

 WOW! WOW! WOW! Now your situation sounds JUST LIKE OURS!

MY Granddaughter was 23 mos. old when we got her & she will be 5 in Nov!

Obviously, we're still going through it..

We got permanent guardianship shortly after my last post (2 yrs. ago.) The parent's have done nothing to improve their situation. My son (baby's dad) became addicted to heroine & is now in jail. The mother has moved no less than 10 times in 2 years & continued to be involved with abusive paramour until about 6 mos. ago. She finally got rid of him after he nearly beat her to death AGAIN! Well, she didn't actually get rid of him. He's in jail for assault & battery, on her. She took me back to court for visitation in April & "won." She has visited with her 3 times. Baby screamed and cried & did not want to go with her.

   I just happened to come across this post & your comment tonight while using findlaw to research family law/adoption attorney's. I don't know why you "resurrected a two year old thread," but I'm very glad you did! Re-reading my post has helped to reinforced my determination to go ahead with the expensive and time consuming adoption process. So, thank you! Luckily, my husband has great benefits at work that include excellent health insurance & he also has a legal plan that will cover most of the legal cost for adoption! As for the $242.00 relative care giver stipend, $240.00 goes to preschool & she will go to kindergarten next year. I am very blessed to be in a financial situation that will allow me to tell the state, court, DCF and the other various agencies to keep their "help" & all the strings that bind my grandchild to them and the person that gave birth to her!

I used to believe that the system was there to protect children. I even thought that we were on the same "side." I changed my mind when the court approved visitation for my 2 year old granddaughter at the county jail, to visit her mom. My belief that they were all nuts was confirmed when our caseworker tried to do a home study at the Schulzbacher homeless shelter! Luckily, the shelter had enough sense to deny the home study and visits... To say this has been a long, hard, scary and frustrating road, would be a huge understatement. 

I guess what I want everyone who reads this to know is

1- this 2 year old thread is still relevant and I hope that something that I shared helped someone, some way. If you get nothing else out of this and you've read all of this, know that 2 or 4 year's is NOT a long time, according to DCF. The struggle is real, hard & long!

2- it has been therapeutic to spill my thoughts & worries with other people in similar situations. I feel for & pray for all families that are dealing with DCF, court & abuse.

3- although it's sad, it's nice to know I'm not the only one. I hope my ramblings reassure others that they are not alone either.

4- all of the mean spirited, know it all's out there that feel the need to make stupid comments lives matter! Lol

 

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Thank you, for this feed. Glad to know that I am not alone. I now have permanent guardianship of my 2 grandsons, ages 2 & 3.  I had been at it for 12 months in the "kindship caregiver" phase and was really tired of being in limbo. I was grateful for both the Ad Litum and the CBC/DCF worker during this process because they heard all of my concerns.   I am however, wondering where do I find out information about what's next? I never had representation during this process and I am unsure how this all works in real time. How long do I stay in this place of guardianship before adoption? If ever? which term is best for the children?  I know with permanent guardianship the parents have the right to petition the courts for their children, if and when that happens... what is the process then? The Grandmother above spoke about the stipends and such all of which I must say I need because it is just me and financially i can not manage all of the things ( especially since one of the boys has Autism). How does this change that process? Will my income be considered now?  Again where do I go to find answers?  

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You should have been assigned a social worker. Meet with them and go over all your questions. A message board is not a good source, since the answers can vary from state to state and even department to department. If you haven't been assigned a social worker, go to the department of social services and ask to speak to one.

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After a family in need of service petition was filed in 2012 involving my children me and my husband spent from September 2012 till April 2015 fighting in court with them about our children before April they had temporary guardianship of our children let me be specific the children's home i placed them in had temporary guardianship but while we were still battling this out in court they gave our 3 sons to a single women and our daughter to the administrators niece, then in April 2015 they gave both parties permanent guardianship me and my husband both still have full parental rights but our daughter's guardians sent us adoption papers that neither one of us signed or returned I called there lawyer right after getting the papers and asked if there would be any kind of hearing they told me no so the day after there 30 day deadline to sign I called and asked what was happening with there case they told me because we didn't sign and return the papers they were granted the adoption so then I called everywhere trying to find out if our rights were terminated and if so why weren't we notified and they weren't terminated we still have full parental rights of all 4 of our children. All the order for petition says is permanent guardianship to the ladies name for my boys on my daughter's I don't know because they refuse to give me her paperwork oh and they moved her case to another county during this. So my questions are: Is it illegal for them to move my daughter's to a different county while were in the middle of the case? Do they have to notify us before terminating our rights? Can they adopt our daughter just because we didn't sign the papers? How can me and my husband get our children back? 

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And to save anyone the trouble of asking the reason they were placed in the children's home is because we were homeless because the place my husband was working at laid off 150 people him being one of them and with no income we lost our home and I didn't want our children on the street with us or cps to take them so I placed them there. Their agreement I signed was for 6 months and after 4 months I got us a 4 bedroom 2 full bath apartment and we showed the kids the following Monday they filed the family in need of service petition..

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11 hours ago, Veryupsetmama_44 said:

How can me and my husband get our children back?

 

Not sure why you tagged this onto someone else's thread that is nearly three years old and has been dormant for several months.  Start your own thread.

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18 hours ago, Veryupsetmama_44 said:

I . . . [am] not sure why your commenting if your not giving advice.

 

I would think the purpose of my comment was rather obvious:  to tell you that you should not have tagged your post onto an unrelated thread and, instead, should have started your own thread.

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I know this is an old post but I just had to comment on response to grandbabymomma's post.  Why on earth would you ever turn your back on your own child especially when he needed you the most? He suffers from addiction,  he lost lost his kids, and as far as I can tell his mother too and I am assuming that he is having or had  troubles in all other aspects in his life (ex: job, other relationships, financial problems)  . Medical textbooks even say addiction is a disease. I hear you say your other child is doing rather well and I would hope if they called you and had cancer you wouldn't turn your back on them as well.  I highly doubt your son woke up one-day and said that he wanted to be addicted to drugs. I have kids of my own who are all grown. One of them had a very serious opiate addiction but I never thought of turning my back on them.  I helped them even when they had no desire to help themselves, I prayed non stop,  and I relentlessly tried to convince them to get help and change their life.  U can't imagine going through everything your son is or was going through and to add having my own mom turn her back on me. Now I see why DCF didn't want you to adopt. 

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26 minutes ago, Hvnsnt said:

I know this is an old post but I just had to comment on response to grandbabymomma's post.  Why on earth would you ever turn your back on your own child especially when he needed you the most? He suffers from addiction,  he lost lost his kids, and as far as I can tell his mother too and I am assuming that he is having or had  troubles in all other aspects in his life (ex: job, other relationships, financial problems)  . Medical textbooks even say addiction is a disease. I hear you say your other child is doing rather well and I would hope if they called you and had cancer you wouldn't turn your back on them as well.  I highly doubt your son woke up one-day and said that he wanted to be addicted to drugs. I have kids of my own who are all grown. One of them had a very serious opiate addiction but I never thought of turning my back on them.  I helped them even when they had no desire to help themselves, I prayed non stop,  and I relentlessly tried to convince them to get help and change their life.  U can't imagine going through everything your son is or was going through and to add having my own mom turn her back on me. Now I see why DCF didn't want you to adopt. 

First to this very old post of a time when I was very frustrated, angry and the like. Thank you for responding because it allowed me to re-read the responses of others who are in my same situation reminding me I am not alone in this fight and for that I am grateful.  

Now on to you mean spirited comments about my child who you believe I turned my back on. Since, I elected to focus my energy on 2 beautiful boys who don't have the ability of free will or self sufficiency.  He is an adult who be it illness or not has the ability to choose.  He choose not to treat his illness when he was given the tools an opportunity to do so.  You see ma"am he didn't have to loose his kids because the support that I provide I was providing before the event.  Additionally,  if my other biological had cancer I would do all I could to support them unless they made a conscious decision to not care for themselves. As you indicated was necessary tool for your own opiate addicted child to become well. As for prayer, I continously pray that him and his wife who are together  by the way woukd want to be apart of their children's lives as i was with mine.

However, I also could assume you dont have grandchildren or have never been faced with this delimma. Or even know the medical history of these children under five who had no one. Not even their maternal grandparents due to race (that is another conversation). DCF in my opinion failed them however today they are adopted. 

#ilovethisgrannythang 

 

PS. Sent from my phone grammar issues unintended 

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Hey, I wanted to thank you for posting. I'm so glad I happened upon this "old thread". I was poking around b/c I am the paternal aunt and legal guardian to my brother's 6 yr old boy. He's been with us full-time for about 2.5 years (on and off for periods since birth) and we were granted permanent legal guardianship about 1.5 yrs ago. His parents seem to have gotten themselves together somewhat in the last 6-8 months but I have no intention of giving up the permanency plan. His mother has already lost her other 4 boys and has a history of erratic behavior and felony convictions. My brother has spent 2 significant periods of time in prison, had substance abuse issues and has never consistently coexisted in society in his 46 years - I don't wish them bad but I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually all blew up again. I don't plan to let my nephew be around if/when it all goes down the tube (which has been the lifelong pattern).  I won't go into all the details of how we got here but I do allow them to visit with him each Friday and I am letting him spend a chunk of Thanksgiving day with them (thanks to a gps watch I have him wear). I was trying to find people similarly situated b/c I often second guess whether I'm making the right decisions. Thanksgiving for example...I'm so nervous to leave him - it will be from 11 -4. I struggle with wishing they were completely out of the picture and wanting him to know his parents love him. When they were MIA from his life for about a year, he was thriving. We had him in counseling and it was recommended he stop because he was doing so well. Since the visits started back up in the Spring, he acts out and is exhibiting the same angry behavior as when placement first began and we've reinstated the counseling sessions.  He loves us tremendously but doesn't understand why he isn't living with his parents. We are working with his therapist on this but it's hard. Again, just looking to connect with similarly situated folks to bounce things off of.

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sounds like to me they need to get there stuff in order and learn what's important, but also you need to think about the child why would you want to permanently take a child from the parent when you already have gaurdianship you have a say already!!!! And why would you be plotting directly a full 12 months for the parents to lose their child,your a mother and I'm sure you love your son what if you were never to see him as a child??? Looks like you would be encouraging your child to get straight for your grandchild your going to make that child have harsh feelings for you no matter how hard you try you can put the parents down all you want but that little one still loves her parents to. At least let them visit with rules they cant be messed up ect. Think of the child not yourself or what you want

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