Over the Christmas holiday, I wrote one of my rare diaries about a young man (16-yo) that I've gotten to know by way of my 12-yo foster daughter. He is her older brother, and he's gotten himself into some trouble with the law, as teenagers are sometimes wont to do.
The problem with this young man is that he also has no home, as his parents' rights were terminated about two years ago, and rightly so.
Because he turned to alcohol and drug use at a fairly young age, after he was removed from his childhood home, he's already been to two long-term youth treatment facilities, jail, and a minimum-security, boot-camp like detention facility in the area. Because of my relationship with his younger sister, I was asked to step in for family visits, home passes, etc, and through these have gotten to know and feel affection, fondness and hope for this kid.
He's know back in the local grim youth detention facility. Ten days ago he had a hearing before his judge about a parole infraction (in the midst of some major psychological trauma at his residential "treatment" facility he was denied access to the on-call therapist and got a hold of and smoked some weed instead). I made up my mind about four months ago that whatever I could do for this kid, I would. I really, really do see the potential in him. I presented myself to the judge as a placement possibility, and she was intrigued by the possibility. She instructed everyone in the room - ie, social services caseworker, parole officer, guardian ad lidem, to re-group this coming Wednesday and present her with a plan for placement.
Well, last week, after being deliberately shut out of the "planning" meeting held by DHS (department of Human Services), I was finally able to connect with his caseworker and was told that they are going back with the recommendation that he not be placed in my home, but that he be committed to the local minimum security boot camp facility he spent four months in over the summer.
In other words, they're done paying for him and for any services for him. They're using the excuse that they don't want to sabotage his sister's placement with me - even though I've already committed to a permanent adoption of his sister within a few months. I think they've just given up on this kid (I never have vehement arguments with people, but I had one last week with his caseworker. Didn't change her mind though). They're done paying for him, and now want the department of youth corrections to pick up the tab. His life be damned. Fortunately, his guardian ad lidem is in my corner, as long as he gets alcohol and drug treatment, especially if they could get someone to come to my home (and I've already agreed, as has he, to get him to an AA or NA meeting at least once a week).
The hearing before the judge is this Wednesday. I never in a million years, when I became a foster parent almost two years ago, pictured myself in this position. I was pretty naïve about our justice system, especially as it relates to young people. it just seems as if so many kids who are in the system are the ones without homes, families that support them (or who have the resources to support them adequately). There's just no way that a facility could replace what someone in a home can offer, even someone as naïve and inexperienced as me :-). It'll be interesting to see how Wednesday's hearing goes. I hope the judge pushes back against DHS and doesn't also give up on this kid. I've already told him, though, that if does end up getting committed, we'll be there for him when he gets out. Seems like it's the least I can do.