In 2001, I was assigned by a judge to represent two girls, ages 8 and 10. The parental rights of their mother and father were terminated – in New York. New York sent these girls across state lines to be adopted at ages 2 and 4.
When they were 8 and 10, their adoptive parents deposited them in a DSS waiting room, and walked away because both girls exhibited symptoms of mental illness, and the adoptive parents now had biological children to protect. That is what the adoptive parents told me. The adoptive parents even refused a fairwell visit.
Today they are 17 and 15. One is in a mental hospital, the other in DYS for assault. Over the years as their appointed counsel, I fought for services, monitored placements, sought and received the appointment of guardian ad litems and Rogers monitors – but the future is bleak though I am still in the picture, still trying.
I have seen their social workers change every year, sometimes more often then that. I have had to fight to back up clinicians who wanted services for them that DSS could not or would not provide. I fight to keep them in contact with one another, and their other siblings.
I was not surprised when Professor Doyle’s research validated what I had already learned; it is better to protect and preserve families and use “in home services” to do that whenever possible then to rely on foster care.
Our state does not define the “reasonable efforts” that a troubled or poor family must receive before their children are removed. The focus has not been on family preservation for a long, long time here.
There are also precious few placements and providers for teens with mental health issues. No wonder Massachusetts was found lacking by the federal courts. See http://old.centerforpublicrep….