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View Full Version : Help with child abandonment/adoption issue pleeeease



askcb
04-15-2009, 04:43 PM
Okay, experts--do your work. I need help :Shrug: I'm not especially familiar with abandonment or adoption, and can't find relevant info online.

This is what I want to happen in my story: A two year old child is found after several days, alone in an crappy apartment, presumably abandoned by her mother. She is taken into child services custody and after attempting to find the mother, she is put into foster care and later adopted. The process runs fairly smoothly because the mother is not found, neither does any family step foward, and news reports have people interested in the little girl.

This is what I need to know to make it feasible: how long/hard would the bio mother be looked for before the child was fostered? If she were found and arrested for abandonment, would she lose parental rights thereby allowing her to be adopted? Assuming my scenario is possible, could she be placed with a family by the time she is three or would the process take much longer? Any other info that might be helpful.

Humble thanks for any info!!

AyJay
04-15-2009, 05:14 PM
Hi askcb -

I'm a social worker tho not directly in the field of child welfare. You may find better experts to respond to you, but here's my general take on your scenario.

The 2-year old child would need to be fostered immediately if the authorities can't find the mother or any other relatives to take her in. That means placed with a qualified foster family on a temporary basis. If the mom shows up and wants to take the child back, she MIGHT lose her parental rights, but it would be a long, drawn out process. The courts greatly prefer keeping children with their biological parents and would be more apt to mandate services to help the mother be a better parent than placing her daughter with a foster family. If it's "just" a case of abandonment and neglect, I'd guess she'd have a good shot at getting the girl back. If your story incorporates some really sick abuse, it would be more believable that the mother loses her parental rights (tho it might still be on a temporary basis, until she completes drug rehabilitation, for example).

Someone here might have info. on exactly how long it takes to adopt a child that age. My guess would be years since there would need to be a try-out period for the new family, and at any time, the biological mother could appeal and try to get her daughter back (which the courts and other authorities might be sympathetic to).

Hope this was helpful.

askcb
04-16-2009, 02:48 AM
Thank you AyJay. This is helpful and pretty much what I expected which is good! I'm on the right track. :)

Soccer Mom
04-16-2009, 03:03 AM
Jurisdiction? State? Country (I'm assuming US)?

askcb
04-16-2009, 03:20 AM
US. Pennsylvania. But I'm hoping that it doesn't come to researching state specifics since I don't actually need to go into a lot of detail for the story, just the idea that she was abandoned young and subsequently adopted within a fairly short time frame. And that the mother has no interest in gaining custody back.

I'm also curious--for realism--about how easy it would be to get away with that. Can a mom really just leave and be done with it? And if so, would the law quit caring after the child was adopted or would the mom still face jail time, etc, indefinitely?

MissKris
04-16-2009, 07:05 AM
I'm not a social worker, but a dear friend of mine is going through a very similar situation - although she's on the adopting side. In her case, it is her own nephews she is adopting and my understanding is that it is common for the state to first look for relatives that would take the child before going to its register of foster families. My friend has fostered the boys for two and a half years now and is still waiting (but is close!) to be granted the adoption. AyJay is right - the state will offer/assign lots of services to the parent(s) before granting adoption to another family. Yes, even if the parent(s) are drug addicts, abusers, consistently unemployed, etc. And even then, the adoptive family often (always?) is required to jump through the hoops, so to speak: take the children to mandatory counseling, be subject to unannounced visits from the social worker, keep a "progress diary" relating to how well the child is adjusting in its new home . . .

The one thing that is pushing forward my friend's adoption is that the mother finally signed over her rights as a parent to the state. She literally stated that she no longer wanted to be the boys' parent and that the state could place them as they see fit. That option would likely be the quickest way for your abandoned child to get permanently adopted into a new family.

frimble3
04-16-2009, 07:47 AM
Does the birth mother play any later part in the story? Is her being alive but uninterested in her child important? Because if you just need her adopted in a short time frame, why not have the birth mother die? She could still abandon the baby, either in the apartment, (every now and then there's a story on the news about a toddler locked in a house by the death of the mother, until someone catches on) or Mom abandons the baby and dies somewhere else. Depends on whether you want the legal hassles, ongoing threat of birth-mama reappearing.

AngelRoseDarke
04-16-2009, 01:35 PM
Two of my friends (twins) were abandoned by their birth mother back in the late 70's. She left the three-year-old boys on the steps of a church and walked away. The boys were adopted by the time they turned four. The woman served no jail time, and was never even arrested. She showed up after the boys had grown up, and formed a relationship with one of them.

I know that was a long time, so things may have changed a lot. She did have to sign over her rights, but since she agreed to that there were no charges against her.

padnar
04-16-2009, 02:08 PM
i think yu can visit the adoption forum
and there yu can get a lot of info.
padma

askcb
04-16-2009, 03:20 PM
Hey everyone,
This has been really helpful. My plan was for her to die eventually, but not until much later, after she has gotten her life together and has a family.

The mother is not crucial to the story, but I had it set up so that the child has a biological sister. The sister is important, so is the news coverage that helps unite them.

Ugh. It sounds like a great idea in my head, but making it work is proving to be difficult because I really don't want to deal with the legality issues that come with all of this. I'm already quite a few chapter in and am really pleased with how things are going. I'm just struggling with what angle to approach this. I may just end up having to have her abandoned as an infant, under a safe haven law, or maybe a adopted at birth.

Overall, the novel has very little to do with this subject at all, but helps set up her emotional insecurities, and the sister is integral to resolving them.

Again, I *really* appreciate all the info!

Keyan
04-16-2009, 11:31 PM
Was there a reason you wanted her abandoned as a three-year-old?

AFAIK, a mother can relinquish her child through a private adoption agency. If the agency has people waiting to adopt, the mother (and presumably, the father if there's one in the picture), can sign over parental rights.

So if you wanted a scenario where the mother struggled with parenting and then gave up when the kid was around two or three, this is perfectly feasible.

The thing is, private adoptions are expensive, so this situation would mean that the adoptive parents would be well-off if not wealthy. If that works, then it's a possible route for you to take.

frimble3
04-17-2009, 05:04 AM
If the mother was having problems, not unheard of to give up the first child for adoption, (simplifying your legal problems) and then get her life together and have a second child that she feels more capable of raising. Sometimes this leaves the first child wondering why she was unloveable. Is it the news coverage of the MC's abandonment that brings them together? Maybe she could be on some panel discussing adoption issues, instead?

MissKris
04-17-2009, 05:54 AM
I'm just struggling with what angle to approach this. I may just end up having to have her abandoned as an infant, under a safe haven law, or maybe a adopted at birth.

Overall, the novel has very little to do with this subject at all, but helps set up her emotional insecurities, and the sister is integral to resolving them.

Assuming the adoptive family is loving and secure, I don't see that the child if adopted at birth would have any insecurities outside of normal childhood ones. Especially since the adoptive family would have many reasons to "hide" the adoption until the child is much older - or forever - although they could be the type to not want to do that. I haven't read enough of your story to find that out :D.

Now, a three year old being abandoned? That's a whole 'nother can 'o worms.

Keyan
04-17-2009, 10:12 AM
Assuming the adoptive family is loving and secure, I don't see that the child if adopted at birth would have any insecurities outside of normal childhood ones. Especially since the adoptive family would have many reasons to "hide" the adoption until the child is much older - or forever - although they could be the type to not want to do that. I haven't read enough of your story to find that out :D.

Now, a three year old being abandoned? That's a whole 'nother can 'o worms.

If it's a contemporary story, adoptive parents are discouraged from hiding adoption; current thinking is to tell the child as soon as possible, usually in infancy.

Some adoptees - not all or even most - do have insecurities related to being adopted. They may feel incompatible with their adoptive families (not in the teen years, when pretty much everyone feels like that, but in childhood); they may wonder why their birth-parents didn't keep them; they may feel like a 'second-best' substitute for their adoptive parents' biological children, or if they're in a blended family, in comparison to the biological children.

(They may also feel superior to biological children for other reasons, but that's not what we're talking about here.)

But from what I've read, the earlier a child is adopted, the more smoothly it goes. And there's a significant difference between 0 and 3.

AngelRoseDarke
04-17-2009, 05:47 PM
Assuming the adoptive family is loving and secure, I don't see that the child if adopted at birth would have any insecurities outside of normal childhood ones. Especially since the adoptive family would have many reasons to "hide" the adoption until the child is much older - or forever - although they could be the type to not want to do that. I haven't read enough of your story to find that out :D.



My biological father left before I was born. My now ex-stepfather was in my life from the time I was 2 months old. He adopted me at 6 months old.

I always had insecurities concerning being the adopted child. My parents couldn't hide it from me (I'm Hispanic and he's white), and I never felt that I belonged. I felt abandoned by my real father, and often wondered why he didn't want me. As an adult I severed all ties with my adoptive family. They never treated me differently, but I still didn't feel that I belonged.

On the other hand, my son is in the same boat and has no problems at all. I think every kid is different in how they deal with it.

Soccer Mom
04-18-2009, 05:13 AM
Checked on PA law. Apparently after 1 yr of abandonment they will terminate parental rights. But mother could simply drop her off and surrender rights, sign them away and walk away from her. Hope that helps.

askcb
04-18-2009, 06:51 AM
Checked on PA law. Apparently after 1 yr of abandonment they will terminate parental rights. But mother could simply drop her off and surrender rights, sign them away and walk away from her. Hope that helps.

Thank you SoccerMom, this is very helpful!! Thank you everyone for all the info. I'm pretty sure I have a handle on the situation now, but if i get lost again I'll definitley know where to turn. :)