A little background first. I'm a single woman, mid-fifties. Fifteen years ago, I adopted an older girl through the system. She was thirteen at the time, now is 28, with two adorable kids of her own. Despite some glitches, the experience was amazingly positive for me, and we're still close.
Two years ago, after a difficult break-up, I was saddled with a house larger than my needs, and decided to get re-certified as a foster parent. Might as well put the spare bedrooms in this house to use! Within weeks, an 11-yo girl was placed with me, one whose parents' rights had already been terminated (physical abuse and drug use the determining factors). Her most recent foster care placement did not work out, and she needed a new home fairly quickly. The caseworkers are anxious to have me adopt her, and we're on track for that in early 2014. (Her behavior was pretty erratic when she first came to live with me and has now settled down considerably).
This child has an older brother, who at the time she was placed with me was in a different foster home, north of town (I live in a fairly large metropolitan area). Things seemed to be going fairly well for him until last March, when we got the call that he'd been picked up by the local police for breaking and entering a neighbor's home. He was placed in the local juvenile detention facility, and within a few weeks moved to a low security, boot-camp-type environment fairly far outside of town.
It sounds grim, but he thrived in this environment. He gave up smoking, had no access to drugs and alcohol (which had been a problem in the past), and got in really good physical shape. After a month or so, his sister and I were allowed weekend visits, and not long after that home passes on the weekends, including overnight visits. As he no longer had any other home, my home was the one he stayed at. Staff was very friendly, both to us and also seemed to treat him well.
In mid-August, as he awaited sentencing, his progress seemed good enough that he was released into the community. The Department of Human Services (DHS) found him a spot in a group home, and he was released.
Unfortunately, beds are scarce for teenage boys in the system, and he was placed within miles of his old environment, one which we're learning now probably enabled his bad behavior. A week or so after school started, after receiving permission from the foster home to be a little late home from school, he was a witness to a fight, and apparently also got involved. Cops were called; his name was looked up in the system. Any contact with the police is considered a parole violation. He panicked, ran like hell for two miles, and never came home either that night or the next 8.
He was picked up two weeks ago and is now back in the local grim juvenile detention facility. We have so far been allowed two visits, but they're no longer than half-hour at a time.
His court hearing is Monday for the robbery. He's willing to plead guilty, in exchange for time served and restitution. There are no beds for him in the system (except for one in a group home 75 miles from us), if the judge accepts his plea bargain.
I've decided he is welcome here. I never, ever had an issue with him on his home pass visits. Case workers are worried he will be high maintenance, and pull down his sister from the progress she has made. I'm worried he will get into trouble again, and the cycle will be repeated, except this time I very likely might blame myself. He seems incredibly motivated, but that could be short-lived.
I'm trying to line up resources and met today with the assistant minister at my church, and, if he is placed with us, she knows of several resources in the church community she can connect me with.
I want to do right by this kid, but am I getting in over my head? (If it's not immediately obvious, I'm not someone trained in working with at-risk youth. I just have a bed, in a home, with a family member, in a relatively nice neighborhood, and, probably most importantly of all, I really like this kid). I suppose only time will tell if I am......