Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birth Family Drama

Once upon a time, there was an exuberant young couple who were in the throes of their very first adoption, when they heard their soon-to-be-daughter had three sisters who were also somewhere in the foster care system.

At that knowledge, they set off on a quest to find them, and if at all possible, add them to their family.

It was not to be, at least not then.

The youngest, Bethany, had already been adopted.  This is confusing, but bear with me.  Bethany was adopted by her biological father's grandparents.  Her biological father, and his teenage son by another woman, were two of the men who molested and abused the other three girls. Awkward? 

The two oldest, Selena and Danae, were living with a biological great, great-aunt (hereafter referred to as GGA).  We were able to make contact with both families, but not until after we'd written impassioned letters asking a variety of social service agencies to help us bring the sisters back together. 

We were told by one of the caseworkers, prior to meeting GGA, that GGA only wanted to adopt Danae, that she didn't think she could handle Selena.  Then we met GGA, and she told us she was waffling back and forth about the situation.  She didn't want their bio mom to know she had them, and didn't want to hurt them any more than they already had been, but at her age, then 55, she didn't know if she could parent a set of 8 and 9 year-old sisters.

We told GGA that we'd asked Social Services if we could adopt all of them before we'd met her, but that we'd stopped asking when we found out that they'd all been placed for adoption.  Which was true.  At that point, we wanted the girls to be able to stay in touch--letters, phone calls, and "meet us halfway" trips across the state every month or so. 

I should have heard the warning bells go off when she said, "I don't even see my own children that often."

But I didn't.  Then they had a court appearance, at which time GGA had to sign paperwork declaring her intent to adopt both girls.  She said she wanted Danae, but couldn't keep Selena. 

Social worker and judge said, "Adopt them both, or they both go to Cappuccino's family."

That would be reason number 1 that she hates us. 

The second reason came about four years later, when she called out of the blue and wanted to come visit.  She stayed in a hotel, and let the girls stay with us. 

The girls told us about their new caseworkers...  New abuse issues: physical and sexual.  GGA had been crazy beating the girls, while GGU, her hubby, apparantly really liked the fact that they were sprouting girl parts.  They shared some details with us.

I was horrified.  And backed into my own little corner. 

As a teacher, I have no choice. I am a mandated reporter.  So I called Social Services in their county and asked to speak to their caseworker.  And guess what, they'd told me way more than they'd told the caseworker. 

And when they pulled into their driveway after they left their visit with us, a deputy sheriff, case worker and custody order was waiting for them.

And back into foster care they went. GGA called me and proceeded to call me everything but a white girl.

Reason number 2 she hates us.

After monthly calls to social services to try to get sister visitation for Leigh over the next six months, social services threatened us with a restraining order (I still don't see how a once per month phone call to request visitation, or at least a return call from a caseworker, constitutes stalking, but they have the courts and guys with guns on their side.  So I stopped calling.

Three years later, Danae found me on MySpace.  I found out that Selena had gone back to GGA, but that she had refused and was in a group home because there were no foster homes available where she was that would take teens. 

So I called Social Services again to see about visitation. They asked if we wanted her.  This was July of 2008.  Danae moved in with us in January of 2009, and we finalized her adoption in November of 2009. 

Reason number 3.

Now, all that to get to the point at hand:  Selena graduates from high school Memorial Day weekend, in a small town outside of Atlanta.  And (please, please, please GodAllahBuddha, don't let it rain on Saturday!) we'll all be there, because it is an open ceremony. If it rains, we'll have to have tickets, which is a whole other mess, but I have to believe that the Powers That Be would not do that to Danae and Selena, who have only had sporadic contact since their separation in 2008.

(We made plans for them to see each other over Christmas of 2009, we drove the four hours, and GGA canceled.  She was tired and didn't want to leave the house for the ten minute drive to the public venue we'd negotiated.  So we showed up at her house so Danae could give Selena her gifts and at least hug her. GGA was not pleased.)

Needless to say, GGA is VERY not pleased that we'll be at graduation.  I've thought about calling her, but I know it would do no good. 

My heart is hurting in advance, because Danae and Leigh want Selena to hang out with us all weekend, and I know damn good and well that GGA will not let that happen, not even a little bit.

Selena is 17, and does not turn 18 until August 1.  She has not been allowed to get a driver's license or learner's permit.  She has a cell phone that GGA occasionally lets her use, but freaks out if she sees that she's talked to Danae.  Selena has been told that she will only get to go to college if GGA drives her there every day. (Granted, all that is filtered through Danae, but I suspect that there is more truth than fiction there.)

At any rate, Memorial Day Weekend will be VERY memorable...  the question is, for what?

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If you are an adoptive parent or have one in your family somewhere, talk to me. I could use some insanity that does NOT call me mom!!