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Old 08-22-2018, 09:27 AM
 
1 posts, read 430 times
Reputation: 10

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This is kind of long story so please bare with me.

I'll start by saying I'm in Pennsylvania as is the child.

On Thursday 8/16 I received a letter in the mail stating I may be of relationship to a child that is in custody of a children and youth agency on the other side of the state (4.5 hours by car). It included paperwork indication that a kinship care opportunity was available and what kinship care is. A survey was enclosed for us to complete if we were interested in providing kinship care or being a resource to the parent by 8/24.

Here's where things get interesting. This was how I learned I have a niece, who upon further digging I discovered is 7 months old. Her biological father, my sibling, and I have not truly spoken in more than 15 years with the exception of my mother's funeral 2 years ago.

Her biological father is a convicted sex offender who served 12 years in prison and was released in 2015. His crime was against a 5 year old boy. He is a Tier One Megan's Law offender. He currently lives in a rooming house and does hold a full time job.

Her biological mother I'm told is having her rights terminated. CYS has been involved in the child's life for some time because mom's drug use. The final straw I'm told is when she left the baby alone over night to go out and party. I've heard the child has been in care for 5 months now, but I'm not sure if she was removed from the home 5 months ago or if that's when CYS became involved.

I have completed the survey indicating I would consider becoming a kinship care home for the child. I faxed it back on 8/17 and called the CYS worker. I did not receive a response until I sent an email on Monday 8/20 asking her to confirm she received it. She responded she did and will be in touch.

I'm looking for anyone who might have been in a similar situation who can lend advice. I'm concerned distance may be an issue as the biological father has supervised visitation twice per week. I can't possibly drive the baby 5 hours each way twice per week. I could consider driving half way once a week if they were to arrange supervised visits there. Would they consider something like that?

According to the biological father (I'm hearing this information third hand so keep that in mind), all he thinks he needs to do is a pass a sex offender evaluation (it has been completed but he doesn't have the results yet) and get an apartment for him to get the child back. Obviously I'm struggling with this, given his past. He was a legal adult when the crime was committed. I just don't see how a child could possibly be safe in his care.

I've talked to a few people who used to work at CYS in PA who all seem to think they might be making dad jump through the hoops because legally they have to even if they plan on asking a judge to terminate his rights. I don't know if this is true or if dad actually has a chance get the baby back.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-23-2018, 02:15 PM
 
10,366 posts, read 8,361,533 times
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Consult a lawyer familiar with these issues about the father's rights, and if they can be terminated. This little one would be a good candidate for adoption, it seems to me.

I would be very leery of allowing even supervised contact with a registered sex offender who had molested a five year old and had served serious time, regardless of his biological relationship with the child. Typically, child molesters do not stop at one encounter/crime against a child, and they don't change, even with therapy, etc. I'd be willing to bet that little boy was not his first offense, just the first time he got caught.
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Old 08-30-2018, 06:13 AM
 
258 posts, read 158,015 times
Reputation: 334
So my first recommendation is to retain an attorney. Many foster care units will recommend not having your own attorney and allowing them to do the adoption/guardianship. This is not a good idea, because they don't have your interests at heart.

Secondly, make sure you record or get everything in writing. Honestly, I would record all conversations, get all requests in writing, and make sure CYS lives up to their promises. Many times any verbal commitments will be forgotten. CYS will also ignore even written commitments if they are having "budgary problems."

Third, I would recommend not signing a post-adoption visitation agreement with CYS. The biological father being a convicted ses offender gives you more than enough grounds. Unfortunately, the biological mother being a drug addict does not. CYS continues to threaten adoptive parents with the loss of placement if they refuse to sign voluntary post-adoption visitation agreements. Most of these agreements are invalid due to lack of voluntariness. So be prepared for the big push to get you to sign one. Also, be prepared for CYS to only offer guardianship. This does not terminate the biological parents parental rights and allows CYS to avoid a TPR hearing for the biological parents. They also get credit on their federal audits for finding a permanent placement for the child. You want to be the person with all the parental rights, not the sex offender or drug addict.

Fourth, push back on CYS on adoption stipends and medical/school resources that are available for your child. CYS is pretty well known for trying to get you to voluntarily waive all stipends/medical coverage/school coverage benefits for foster children. Make sure you get all the benefits that your entitled to under PA and federal law. You will need them to care for the child and all the challenges raising this child.

The good news is CYS is usually very supportive of relative adoption. Stating it is their preferred permanency goal for children unable to return to their biological parents.

Good luck.

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney, don't play one on TV. :-)
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