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ad_lucem
05-15-2009, 04:08 AM
I'm about 1/3 of the way through a book, considering a POV change, and suddenly realizing I may have my terms mixed up.

But, don't take that against me, I'm sure I'm not nearly as ditzy or evil as that may sound.

Here's the info I'm a little sketchy with:

When is a person considered IN "foster care" versus "adoption" versus "guardianship".

In the current WIP, my character is a 13 year old boy who went into foster care, and then to live with a great-aunt identified by his mom's will. His step-grandmother also took his little sister who lived with him in foster-care up until they were split up to go with the respective relatives.

The reason for the split is that a) both women are older, not "OLD" but definitely ready to qualify for the senior citizen discount b) never had children of their own to raise and felt uncomfortable taking both kids--especially a teenage boy.

The reason for the fostercare is that his father killed his mother, then himself, leaving the two children orphaned. As both parents were only children in their own right, there were very few adult relatives to choose from when the mother wrote the will.

The great-aunt is also of a very strict religious persuasion (disallowing anything that looks like dancing, among other things).

So, questions:

Is this believeable?

Do you have any info or links to better info than wikipedia or CPS generalities regarding such a scenario?

Thanks in advance!

askcb
05-15-2009, 06:41 AM
As I understand it, fostering a child requires being a foster parent--that is, application and approval from the state, etc, that you are an accepted foster home.

To be a guardian is more of a legal issue that arises in families and can be anyone who has been appointed by the court to act as a guardian--for instance, I was my niece's legal guardian for the four months she stayed with me, my husband is the legal guardian of my son even though he is a step-parent. If a parent dies, relatives who step foward will be appointed guardianship--it can be temporary or permanent--laws vary by state.

To be adopted means a legal procedure with lots of paperwork, that allows someone to permanently become a legal guardian, regardless of relation.

I'm no expert, but it sounds as though your children was fostered until relatives stepped foward, who then took legal guardianship of them. Perfectly acceptable, however, I do think that courts tend to do their best to keep families together--mothers and children, siblings with siblings. Separating kids happens I'm sure, but it isn't preferable.

Cyia
05-15-2009, 07:46 AM
If there was a specified guardian the will, the kids would have been placed there. Social services tries to find family first - before long term foster care. They might have been there for a few days until the relatives could either send for or come to them, but that's it. Also, the split isn't necessary if there was a specified guardian. The will overrides the age issue.

Guardian - assigned legal responsibility granted by parents or existing legal caretaker.

Foster - interim caretaker assigned by the state, they're paid for their care and usually only have the children for a short period of time.

Adoption - parenthood granted by legal status. They're not paid for their care. The biological parents have to either lose or grant their rights to someone else. (or die)

suki
05-15-2009, 08:13 AM
I'm about 1/3 of the way through a book, considering a POV change, and suddenly realizing I may have my terms mixed up.

But, don't take that against me, I'm sure I'm not nearly as ditzy or evil as that may sound.

Here's the info I'm a little sketchy with:

When is a person considered IN "foster care" versus "adoption" versus "guardianship".

In the current WIP, my character is a 13 year old boy who went into foster care, and then to live with a great-aunt identified by his mom's will. His step-grandmother also took his little sister who lived with him in foster-care up until they were split up to go with the respective relatives.

The reason for the split is that a) both women are older, not "OLD" but definitely ready to qualify for the senior citizen discount b) never had children of their own to raise and felt uncomfortable taking both kids--especially a teenage boy.

The reason for the fostercare is that his father killed his mother, then himself, leaving the two children orphaned. As both parents were only children in their own right, there were very few adult relatives to choose from when the mother wrote the will.

The great-aunt is also of a very strict religious persuasion (disallowing anything that looks like dancing, among other things).

So, questions:

Is this believeable?

Do you have any info or links to better info than wikipedia or CPS generalities regarding such a scenario?

Thanks in advance!

You've received some good info on the differences between foster care, guardianship and adoption...but here's my take on the set up:

If there was a will, and it named a guardian, the courts will try to honor that request...but the named guardian still has to petition for guardianship and pass all the screenings and prove they are capable, the home is good and has room, etc. And, even with a will naming guardians, the court's primary concern will be the best interest of the kids - so it's not automatic.

It's entirely plausible the kids would be in emergency foster care, especially if the relatives were not real near by, but depending on locality, they could be with an emergency placement family or in group homes, but then not likely in the same group home given a gender and age difference.

It's also possible that multi-kid families will be split among relatives. But I find it less than plausible for "age" reasons. If the person is capable of being a guardian to one, they are capable of being a guardian to two, in general, in my opinion, assuming they have the space for two. Because the local child welfare will need to be convinced that the home is suitable, and that includes the sleeping arrangements and how the kid is getting to school, and who is watching over the kid, etc.

BUT, you could easily have the guardians decide to only take one each, and the court would likely approve it if there were no better options, but the court wouldn't say that because the person is older, they can only have one.

I'd find a social worker or attorney who regularly serves as a guardian ad litem for kids in the system, in an area similar to the setting of your book, and ask a lot of hypothetical questions, because these things would vary some place to place.

good luck.

~suki

ad_lucem
05-15-2009, 07:28 PM
You've received some good info on the differences between foster care, guardianship and adoption...but here's my take on the set up:

If there was a will, and it named a guardian, the courts will try to honor that request...but the named guardian still has to petition for guardianship and pass all the screenings and prove they are capable, the home is good and has room, etc. And, even with a will naming guardians, the court's primary concern will be the best interest of the kids - so it's not automatic.

It's entirely plausible the kids would be in emergency foster care, especially if the relatives were not real near by, but depending on locality, they could be with an emergency placement family or in group homes, but then not likely in the same group home given a gender and age difference.

It's also possible that multi-kid families will be split among relatives. But I find it less than plausible for "age" reasons. If the person is capable of being a guardian to one, they are capable of being a guardian to two, in general, in my opinion, assuming they have the space for two. Because the local child welfare will need to be convinced that the home is suitable, and that includes the sleeping arrangements and how the kid is getting to school, and who is watching over the kid, etc.

BUT, you could easily have the guardians decide to only take one each, and the court would likely approve it if there were no better options, but the court wouldn't say that because the person is older, they can only have one.

I'd find a social worker or attorney who regularly serves as a guardian ad litem for kids in the system, in an area similar to the setting of your book, and ask a lot of hypothetical questions, because these things would vary some place to place.

good luck.

~suki

The aunt and step-grandmother are older women who have decided, independently, that they only want one kid each.

This arrangement was decided long before the deaths of the parents. The reason being, the family of origin was just not "kid friendly" or "kid oriented". Both are reasonably well-off. One is a decidedly career-oriented older woman.

Not to say they aren't responsible people or caring in their own way--it's just that neither would elect to handle both a teenager and a toddler at the same time. Also, the one guardian only has a two-bedroom in New York.

It sounds like this arrangement makes enough sense to be plausible, but I need to change some of my terminology and ask around some more.

Pomegranate
05-15-2009, 10:07 PM
(disclaimer - I'm not an expert and my knowledge is exclusive to California)

Both guardians and adoptive parents have legal responsibility for their wards/children. The former acts as a parent, the latter IS the legal parent.

In some cases, relatives will refuse to adopt or be guardians for various reasons (cultural, financial, familial...) and will just be long term stable foster parents. In that situation, the relative recieves a stipend from the state and social services remains involved.

girlyswot
05-19-2009, 01:54 PM
I'm about 1/3 of the way through a book, considering a POV change, and suddenly realizing I may have my terms mixed up.

But, don't take that against me, I'm sure I'm not nearly as ditzy or evil as that may sound.

Here's the info I'm a little sketchy with:

When is a person considered IN "foster care" versus "adoption" versus "guardianship".

In the current WIP, my character is a 13 year old boy who went into foster care, and then to live with a great-aunt identified by his mom's will. His step-grandmother also took his little sister who lived with him in foster-care up until they were split up to go with the respective relatives.

The reason for the split is that a) both women are older, not "OLD" but definitely ready to qualify for the senior citizen discount b) never had children of their own to raise and felt uncomfortable taking both kids--especially a teenage boy.

The reason for the fostercare is that his father killed his mother, then himself, leaving the two children orphaned. As both parents were only children in their own right, there were very few adult relatives to choose from when the mother wrote the will.

The great-aunt is also of a very strict religious persuasion (disallowing anything that looks like dancing, among other things).

So, questions:

Is this believeable?

Do you have any info or links to better info than wikipedia or CPS generalities regarding such a scenario?

Thanks in advance!

What country and time is your story set in? The answers will vary accordingly.

ad_lucem
05-19-2009, 07:30 PM
What country and time is your story set in? The answers will vary accordingly.

Good point: it's in the US and in the current year.