Monday, June 25, 2007

Another Baby, Not My Own

Posted by Anonymous.

A few weeks ago I found out my husband may have another child. He has two with me, both under 1 1/2 years old. I already know he had a son with someone else just before he met me and for a while we had visitation but now we don't. She took him away and we don't legally have a right to see him unless we go through the courts and we don't have the money.

However it has now come up that he may be the father of another boy who was born only a few months after his first son. The child does not live with his mom but is in the foster care and will become a ward of the state soon. The boy has two brothers as well but they are definitely not my husbands.

We will be having a paternity test done soon but the dilemma is what to do if he IS his son. As he already doesn't get to see one son, he doesn't want to lose another. However the boy has met us only once or twice and doesn't really know us (we were friends with the mom.) He's 3. They are going to try to keep all three boys together in the system but really, that doesn't happen too often. If we took him in, we of course would let him see his brothers but still. My main concern is how do we just take a 3 year old boy and say, "Hey, the guy you thought was your daddy isn't really your daddy. This is your real daddy and you are going to live with us now." Could a 3 year old really understand that?

Also we are really struggling financially with our two children. We use food banks and are behind on many bills. Would it be fair to bring in another child to a fairly poor lifestyle? We do own our home but still. He at least has clothes and toys and furniture already and we would get a bit of money from the city for him (baby bonus) but still. Plus in order to get custody of him, we have to get a lawyer and go to court to prove we can take good care of him. We can't afford a lawyer either and don't qualify for legal aid because we own our house.

Another concern is that I struggle with depression and since my husband works, it would be me who would be taking care of him. I get frustrated really easily with my two babies. Could I handle another child? We've been told he has behavioural issues, probably from being taken away and put back and taken away again from his parents. Plus we know he wasn't treated right, otherwise he wouldn't have been taken away.

There is a lot to think about and obviously none of this matter if it turns out he isn't my husband's son but it seems more likely that he is. What would you do?


The City Gal said...

So sorry to hear that!

I guess idealy we would say "take him in" because he needs love and care.

But here the concerns are:
1- How do you afford a lawyer?
2- How do you deal with the behavioral issues?
3- How do you feel the whole family?

What happens to him if he becomes a ward of the state? Would he be put up for adoption? Would a good family come forward to take him? That wouldn't be so bad. I am sure then you can work out some sort of visitation rights.

If the DNA test proves that his biological father is your husband, wouldn't he automatically get him? why do you need a lawyer?

I guess the bigger question is: do you think you can love him? When you saw him last, did you think you could love him?

I suppose it's a matter of heart. Tough decision!

Anonymous said...

Depending on the laws in your state, if your husband turns out to be the father and the child goes into foster care, your husband may be required to contribute child support to the foster parents. In IL that is 20% of his net income. You are probably better off hiring an atty who can guide you all through the system instead of getting blindsided by a 15 year support obligation.

Anonymous said...

I'm the poster:

I live in Canada, not the states and I don't know the laws very well concerning this. I think it makes sense that we should automatically get custody of the child if he's his but I don't think it works that way. I think we have to prove we are fit parents. I guess they don't want the kid to go to a new home and get settled in and then be taken away again.

The City Gal said...

Have you talked to the case-worker? The social worker who is in charge of his file?

She might be able to tell you how the process works and whether or not you need a lawyer, how to prove you are fit and if you need to pay child support in case he becomes the ward of the state.

Niksmom said...

It's a very tough situation, for sure, but you have to try to take a step back and look at the igger picture of not just the little boy but your whole family. You've raised some really key issues (finances, etc.) but might want to consider adding to the mix---how will your other children react? Will they be welcomong and accepting and make him a part of their family? How will THEY feel about their Daddy's (and your) love? Will htey feel threatened. Definitely talk t the case worker and ask about some family visits and maybe even some kind of counseling to help find the right answers for all of you. Do what is BEST for the children and not what you think you SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do. How does your husband feel about all this?

If you really think you want to adopt ths child (assuming that would be the longer-term plan?), can you & hubby come up with a long-range plan that might help you get to the point where you can (a) afford it and (b) you have the support and help you need to not have parenting be so stressful?

Sorry to ramble...just trying to think of as many angles as possible for you to look at. It's a HUGE decision for all of you.

Pollyanna said...

My heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine being in your situation. I think all the advice that has been offered is good and sound. Talk to his case worker, find out what your options are. Find out if there is finanical assistance available..ect...please take care of yourself in the meantime. You sound very stressed and depressed. I totally understand that as we have been the parents of small children with no money as well. Now we have bigger children with no money..anyway, don't forget to take care of yourself in all this. If you have a breakdown you won't be able to parent anyone's children including your own! I hope it all works out for you, I really do.

Maerlowe said...

I am a foster parent in the US, and only have a limited knowledge of how foster care works in Canada from reading other blogs, but here, biological family members do have to be evaluated for safety and stability if the child is already in state custody. Our foster son's parents each had a state-appointed lawyer (free), and access to a number of financial services (daycare, medical care, WIC, etc) in order to assist them in keeping their son. From what I understand, Canada has many of the same programs.

One thing that is different in Canada vs. the US is that there isn't a big push to get children adopted by families. It could be five years, or ten years, before he is adopted, if ever, because of Canada's policies, and during that time, he could be moved to different homes dozens of times. Our foster son is three, and he lived in seven different homes before he came to us. The damage from these moves, from losing his entire biological family, and the innatention from the system has hurt him so much and yet, he is wonderful and I couldn't imagine him being anywhere else.

If your husband's son is adopted, there is no guarantee that your husband would be allowed to visit him. For the child to be adopted, your husband would have to have his parental rights terminated, basically declaring your husband unfit to raise a child, and any rights your husband has to him would disappear.

Please, please talk to the caseworker in charge of your husband's son. He or she will be able to guide you through this.

Gawdess at is a Canadian foster parent. She might be able to help you a bit more, as she has a better understanding of how that system works, whether you'd be responsible for child support if he is put in foster care, what the screening process is, and what kind of services are available.

Good luck. From reading your post, even though you're freaking out a bit (I would too), I don't think this is an impossible situation. It sucks, but it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

My experience with the CAS tells me if there's any way for you to help the kid lead a normal life with you, then take him in. Growing up in group homes is not a walk in the park, and foster care, while excellent in some homes, isn't having a family.

Your husband, whether he sees the other kid or not, has support obligations for that child as well.

Apply for legal aid and you may qualify for assistance to help pay for a lawyer, though if you're in Ontario and own a house you should expect a contribution agreement.

I'd also be looking into some counseling for the two of you as a couple as well, and there are some free services if you look around for them.

P.S. I hate to sound like judge judy but your husband should try to keep his tally whacker in check or at least cover it up when it's out in public.

flutter said...

Would it be fair to leave him in foster care when you could love him?

Anonymous said...

I think your home will definitely be a better place for this child than the foster system, even considering the fact that you are depressed and your family is poor. It will be extremely hard on your family if you take him in, I am sure, but I have little doubt he will wind up with a better outcome with you than he would being bounced from foster home to foster home.

But I think you are right to worry about your other children, especially if this child has behavioral issues. Of course you want to keep your own biological children safe. And having two children who are so close together in age must be putting a big strain on you as a mother already.

I would suggest a.) finding out as much as you can about this child's background and behavioral issues, and b.) talking with a psychologist about your concerns regarding your own mental health and the possible stress this new addition could place on your family. If you can't afford a psychologist, it's possible social services would provide one to you, given the circumstances.

Good luck! I hope this works out for the best for everyone involved. (And would smack your husband once for me for not using condoms, please?)

Anonymous said...

I have been told I probably have a sibling I've never met, and I often wonder where he is and how he is doing. I worry that maybe he had a difficult life. I wish I could have known him.

Your own children may feel the same way when they are older if they never get a chance to know their other siblings.

ewe are here said...

If the boy turns out to be your husband's child, I really, really think you need to find a way to welcome him into your home and your hearts as quickly as possible. Letting him languish in the uncertainty of the foster care system, with the possibility of never being adopted and being moved from home to home to home, would be, IMO, bordering on cruel because you and his father -his father!- could provide him with love and emotional security.

Love and emotional security, over time, combined with some family counseling and other forms of help that should be available, will go a long way towards resolving any behavioral issues he might have. He's three. He needs love; not money. Just like the two you already have.

Diane said...

Check with the case worker and find out what the process is to become a licensed foster care provider. You may be able to provide a foster home for your step-son, be paid for it and have access to free behavioral counseling plus a slew of other things that would make your life easier while allowing your step-son a shot at a decent life. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

i am a case worker.
what will happen if you want to plan for the kid, then you will nhave a home assessment.
they will do a home check, a police check, they will check your financials etc. they will check ay previous child welfare involvement of either of you including hx as children. they will call your doctor, call you employer for references. if there are drug issues you may b e asked for screens or a hair strand test at HSC.

if you "pass" the check then you will be approved and the court process will place the child with you prob for a period fo supervison to make sure things go ok. There will prob be an access order with the mother you will need to agree with enforce or something. Best to come up with a plan on how to deal with that - like a 3rd party can supervise access between child and mother (best not to have at CAS office as eventually you want them out of your life but if they are invovled in access then if can be hard).

if you aren't approved and the CAS does not want you as parents, they you better get a lawyer. otherwise if you are all cooperating together and agreeing with them then not necessary to get a lawyer. you can also speak to duty counsel at court.

if you have a huge CAS or criminal history or dont want the worker to assess you then i suggest getting a lawyer immediately.

also find out what CAS wants there are 2 types of orders in ontario for permancy (not if going to your house):

1. Crown ward with access (access order for one of the parents or another relative)
2. Crown Ward with no access for the purpose of adoption.
If the option is 2 then you have no rights to her after she is a cw. If option 2 then child gets aopted in a home that has ben approved and that if forever as opposed to a child who can get bounced around a fosterhome. if the child has behavioural problems, more likely to be moved several time. in ontario everage placement for a foster child is 22 months. I have kids who have lived in same home for 8 years but others who move like twice a year. so can really vary.

also if being adopted enquire about contact between the adoptive parents and the father. there could be arrangements made where dad can send a letter with pictures or a birthday gift and or holidays through the adoption worker.

you need to be able to establish a financial, emotional, daycare plan to tell the worker in order to get approved. they won't just give you the kid to look after when you are struggling so much. i would advise to be as honest with worker as possib le about the depression etc and talk about your plan to deal with it, as they will find out anyways from the doc or someone.

also be prepared the process can be long and hard. sometimes the ex will make alllegations against the father that have to be investigated even though they may not seem true. that can be hard, but remember it is the child that needs to be in the forefront.

good luck if you have another question you can post here and i will answer to the best of my ability.

a child welfare case worker in ontario.

Anonymous said...

Foster care (in most cases) sucks and creates even more grief in already traumatized young life.

I would be very leery of any man who would knowingly let his child go into foster care. Seriously, this guy already has red flags all over him... if he doesn't feel any obligation to the children he's brought into the world (which seems to be his favorite activity) he lacks a fully functioning soul as being completely disrespectful to you and your children with his affairs and completely irresponsible when it comes to birth control. I seriously wish he could be neutered.

Anonymous said...

I've always heard people say they don't have a limited amount of love to offer kids, especially when more come into the mix unexpectedly, that they find there's enough to go around no matter the number. this boy would be the lucky one even if he were separated from his siblings (they'd be the unlucky ones not living permanently with a family no matter how poor or depressed it is.)

Anonymous said...

Wow thanks for all the comments thus far. You've all given me great advice. A few answers:

1. I have talked to the boy's case worker and she was the one who said we needed a lawyer.

2. I will definitely be talking to a psychologist and although my husband HATES them, I'm going to get him to come too as this is a family decision/situation.

3. Thanks to the person who suggested how my kids will handle it. I hadn't thought about it. Luckily they are so young I don't think it would be too much trouble.

4.The the caseworker, thanks SOO much. We are involved with the CAS too (for stupid reasons) so they already know I have depression and have talked to my doctors etc. It being a long process can be good and bad. It means we have longer to figure out what we're doing and prepare but at the same time all the kids will be older if and when it's finally through which will make it harder on all the kids. THanks for the crown ward types, I will find out their plans.

To everyone: He just went for the paternity test on wednesday. The results will be back in about two weeks. I will let all know what the results are as I'm sure at least some of you may want to know.

And as for Anonymous poster at 7:13am, that attitude does not help. He understands that it was wrong to have lots of sex without condoms but it's too late for that. And I NEVER said he wasn't taking responsibility for his kids. He wants to take this one in and the only reason we don't see the other one or pay support is because the mother put father unknown on the birth certificate and in order to force seeing him we have to go through court which again we can't do right now.

Anonymous said...

doesnt it bother you that these all children keep popping up?
take him to the snip it doctor or you will have a houseful of children you cant feed.

Anonymous said...

What is CAS?

Anonymous said...

CAS = Chlidren's Aid Society (AKA as in the states in different places Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services, etc etc )