....to raise a child.
This post is not related directly to adoption or our family wanting to adopt but it is my thoughts and advice on my experiences with CPS and protecting your children.
Not every parent is born to parent. It is generally something you learn by example and adapt as you go. Not every circumstance a child is born into is adequate to give that child a chance for success. I believe in my heart that most parents are loving and capable but the staggering number of children in state care has me and MANY other panicked because it is growing like wild fire and it is not resolving the problems with the way it presently works. Some parents have no business being parents, but the majority who find their lives overturned by DCS/CPS involvement simply lack the skills or support system they need to successfully parent for a million different reasons.
Most of the time, in my opinion, removing a child from their family can be more damaging to the child than the actual abuse/neglect/reason for removal....compounding the trauma the child has experienced. Having said that abuse/neglect is not ok....ever. I feel that in many circumstances providing a support system and teaching the skills needed for the individual situation is likely to significantly reduce the number of children in state custody.
Things parents in crisis need to know:
It is not illegal to give your child to someone else. You do not need an adoption agency to place your child and the family you choose can go through a kinship placement or adoption certification after you decide to give them custody of your child, however, their are laws and legal issues with interstate adoptions that you might need to have clarified.
You can make a temporary guardianship plan for your child and ask someone you know and trust to parent your child until you feel you are able to parent again.
It is hard and a long process in most cases to get a child back once they are removed by DCS/CPS and you will have very little control over what happens with your child and when you get to see them.
AZ has the worst reputation for "medical kidnapping" and you can be the most caring and attentive parent in the world and it can still happen to you, all it takes is one medical professional, one teacher or provider that doesn't like how you are caring for your high medical needs child and it could be over.
DCS does not tell parents everything. If your child is in care push for AS MUCH involvement as possible ie. Going to medical appointments, court etc. And take notes, write down and research every diagnosis and advocate for your child. Don't be afraid to ask for a supervisor or climb the latter of authority. Make them know you are NOT going to go away and don't believe it if they tell you that you can not handle parenting a child with high needs, because with the right supports in place you can.
Be proactive, as a parent, and make a guardianship plan before any CPS involvement, just in case so that your child does not spend months or years away from a familiar environment.
Those who know me well know how I feel about drug addicted newborns. If you are pregnant and you use drugs and you want to ever parent your child, make a guardianship plan and have a notarized copy with you when you give birth and make sure that the person named as guardian can take custody upon discharge and make sure the medical staff knows your plan. Generally when a newborn tests positive for illegal substance they are immediately taken into state custody and it is a very hard and strict path you will have to follow to get your child back. If by chance you are able to fool the medical profession and get to take your baby home it is going to be extremely hard to parent a newborn going through withdrawal while you are still addicted or possibly high/intoxicated. Even the best parents will find a drug addicted baby difficult and heartbreaking but they will also be better equipped to seek the supports necessary for that child.
If you do not have someone close to you that you would trust with your child, there are people out there that will help in crisis situations to become a temporary guardianship for your child while you get your situation sorted out. Temporary guardianship is not adoption and it is not "foster care" you as the parent can revoke it at any time. Absolutely reach out to your community to find someone who is willing to do this but be vigilant of who you trust because a guardian is not regulated like foster care, but does give you the parents more control over how your child is raised and how much you see your child.
A good guardian will help you as a parent to guide you to get the help/supports you need to parent and help keep you in close contact with your child. A guardian is not compensated by the state to care for your child like a licensed foster parents.
A guardian might be ideal if you are experiencing homelessness and can not get assistance with housing etc.
I am sure that I have not included everything I intended in this post because I am using my phone for this post because my computer is down and my favorite IT guy is working out of town at the moment, but if you have questions, need support/help please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org