This is an interesting discussion on the adoption.com board, and there are some great answers.
The full question is:
Let’s assume YOU made the rules, how long would you give biological parents to COMPLETE their case plan goals before you sent the case to TPR?
I know there can be all kinds of extenuating circumstances, but let’s assume there are no insurmountable obstacles preventing the bios from completing the plan.
What’s your opinion?
I agree with most of the posters who say no more than a year. Some even say six months. I would agree with that if the birth parents are making no attempts to follow any of the rules of their case plan.
The current law says that if the child is out of the home for fifteen of the last twenty-two months that social services should determine if the termination of parental is in the best interest of the child.
There are cases where that is not the case. In Sammy’s case, he is out of our home because of HIS issues, not parenting issues. He has been out of our home for two and a half years but no one is making a recommendation of termination of parental rights. Sammy has to work his plan. We are following everything on our hand, which is minimal and what a caring parent would do anyway.
This applies to the children who have been removed because of parental abuse or neglect.
I saw the plan for Kory and Mackenzie’s birth mom and she could have shown that she was willing to at least attempt working her plan by doing two simple things:
1) Establish a consistent residence for a minimum of six months.
2) Maintain a job.
For most of us, these seem like fairly simple and responsible things, but these were not things she was willing to do in order to regain custody of her children. She would attend parenting classes and produce certificates on a regular basis, but she was unwilling to do these basic life necessities. She lived with whoever would support her and it could change on a daily or weekly basis. These kids never had a consistent place to live. The longest she ever worked a job was three months.
Social services had, on several occasions, set her up in an apartment, paid the security deposit, paid the first month or two of rent and she would not maintain the lease. It was a horrible situation.
When you think about it, in the life of a child, six months or a year seems like forever, especially when it comes to permanency for their lives. Where are they going to live? Who are their parents going to be? Keeping them hanging with the uncertainty in their lives is not fair, but I feel that a birth parent should be given the opportunity to make things work with their kids, but the needs and emotional health of the kids needs to come first. Leaving a child hanging in limbo for years is not fair, and after a certain point it becomes obvious that the birth parents are not going to work their plan.
So, what is your opinion? How long should parents be given to meet the conditions before termination is sought?