First off, let me start by telling a little about my husband and myself. We have been married 5 years and have no biological children at this time. He works in the oilfield 4 weeks on and 2 off. I babysit kids at home right now.
This is our situation and any/all advice, tips, etc. will be appreciated!
About 6 weeks ago, we were contacted by DHS and told that custody of my 2 nieces (my brothers kids) was being temporarily taken away from the parents and they wanted to know if we would be willing to take the kids. Apparently DHS had received several complaints of neglect and drug use (which unfortunately we found out is true). We both immediately said we would take the children no problem! We have had them ever since. They are both under the age of 2-- the oldest will be 2 in September and the youngest will be 1 in August.
My brother is currently in jail (went in a few weeks before we were given the kids) on drug charges and being a convicted felon in possession of a weapon. The mother seems to think the whole DHS investigation is a joke. She was given a list of classes/things she needed to do in order to try to get the kids back and she hasn't attempted any of it. She is still using drugs. Supervised visitation was set up through me-- she can come see them anytime as long as I'm present. So far, in the 6 weeks we have had them, she has only spent time with them at family outings/events. Or she shows up 1-2 times a week for 15-20 minutes each time.
Right now, the DHS investigation is ongoing. We have court in August/September (haven't gotten the actual date yet) where the case will be presented to the judge. At that time, there is a possibility of the court removing the children from them permanently. We have already stated that if that happens, we would like to keep them rather than having them uprooted and moved somewhere else or put in the system. DHS told me we would be allowed to keep them in that situation as long as we could continue to provide a stable and loving environment for them.
My husband and I both love these girls and want what's best for them. We will do anything in our power to make sure they are happy/secure/cared for. We are just worried about their mental/emotional health with everything that has happened to them, around them, etc.
There is a history of domestic violence between the parents (something else we found out after getting the kids). The oldest freaks out anytime someone gets mad and raises their voice or when 2 people start rough housing. The youngest is having trouble sleeping at night but is otherwise happy.
So basically the kids seem to be doing ok with living with us. But I was wondering if any of you have any advice to help them fully adjust? Or any advice to us as we help them and adjust to bring sudden parents? This is more or less a learning experience for us and I know we will make mistakes. I just wanted to see if anyone else has been in this situation or has any advice for us! Thanks!
Hey everyone! First off, thank you a for your encouraging words and advice! I did talk to our DHS case worker and she is scheduling us a session with the First Steps program. Basically, it's an early intervention program through them where they evaluate the children and see if they have any cognitive, speech, emotional, etc. delays. Once the evaluation is complete, we will know better what kind of counseling or therapy we need to start with the oldest one. The youngest they aren't worried about since she is so young and right now there are no signs of problems with her. That may change at a later time if she does start having problems. So right now, we are just waiting for the evaluation so we can figure out what the next step is.
As far as the mom goes, I have a complete visitation log showing when she comes, how long she stays, what she says/does, etc. she is prohibited from coming to our house or anywhere near the kids if she is high or drunk. If I can smell it or see that she is "messed up" she is denied visitation and I was told to call and report it to our case worker.
When we had our meeting with the case worker, she asked about visitation, the mothers service agreement (what she was court ordered to do such as drug rehab, parenting classes, etc). I informed her that the mother has only attended 3 or 4 parenting classes and has not done anything else that was part of the agreement. She then asked us if we are prepared to have the children for an extended amount of time or possibly permanently. We told her we definitely are. After a year, she can make the recommendation for them to be legally ours. According to her, unless something changes drastically before then, she will be making that recommendation. She told us that she has seen this scenario many times and if she hasn't done some of the agreement by now, she probably won't.
So that's where we are now! Once again, thank you all!