Thursday, August 12, 2010

Legal Risk

I realized that I used the term "Legal Risk" in my last post but didn't give a definition. So here it is to the best of my understanding.

When a child is removed from a home the state of Texas gives the parents and extended family 18 months to clean up their act and do what is needed to get their children back. Some cities move faster than 18 months. Some probably move slower. But here the judge has to make the decision in 18 months. During that time the children are in foster care. Many people in foster care are hoping to adopt the children in their homes but you really have no idea what the chances of that will be. People that go this route are considered Foster-to-Adopt.

The other end of that spectrum is matched adoption. These are children whose parents have had their parental rights terminated. When Texas terminates parental rights it terminates on the whole family. This means that after termination Aunt Mary from Missouri can't come back and claim a niece or nephew. So these children are living in a foster home who don't intend to adopt them. A family will find out about these children and start taking the steps to adopting them. After they are placed in your home they stay there for about 6 months until you go to court and they are 100% yours. (read: the state quits coming into your house every month!)

The middle ground is called "Legal Risk". Technically there is no license for legal risk. It's just in the mind of your caseworker. An example of legal risk would be an abandoned infant. If a parent abandons their infant then they have 3 months to come back and claim them. During that time the baby is in a home that is licensed for foster care. If the mother does not reclaim her child then parental rights are terminated on and the child can be adopted. In the time that our city has had the "Baby Moses" law in effect only one child has been reclaimed. Another example would be if our caseworker knew of some children who had been in foster care for 12 months and the parents were not trying to get their children back. It looks pretty good that there will be termination in 6 months but they can't guarantee that. Another good example would be if a mother had had more than one termination in the past with previous children and now she has another baby in foster care. The chances are pretty good that she won't get this baby back either.

So there you have it. Clear as mud, right?


Tiff said...

Actually, that made complete sense to me. Nicely done. :-)

Sanders said...

thanks for explaining!