Saturday, December 16, 2006

More on KY's quick-trigger adoptions

Definition of beaurocracy: An administrative system in which the need or inclination to follow rigid or complex procedures impedes effective action; e.g. innovative ideas that get bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy.

As mentioned in previous blog entries, Kentucky social workers have alleged that the Cabinet inappropriately removes children from their homes and expedites state adoptions, motivated by federal funding, e.g. women who enter homless shelters due to domestic violence in Kentucky lose custody of their children.

Complaints have been levied by Kentucky Youth Advocates and the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families.

A 12-member adoption panel, chaired by Cabinet for Health and Family Services Commissioner Mark D. Birdwhistell... can you see a conflict of interest here? I can... has reviewed the process and practices leading to termination of parental rights and adoption in Kentucky's child welfare system.

Their goal was to identify areas of improvement and propose legislation for the 2007 General Assembly. Basically, there needs to be fairness and consistency in custody termination.

What proposals have they made?
1.) Take more efforts to locate family members (such as the biological father) before putting child up for adoption; something that is not being done now

2.) Give parents an attorney and let them know that their child's custody is at stake

3.) Give court-appointed attorneys and guardians ad litem a raise (this initiative has been unsuccessfully suggested in 10 other statewide panels over the past 30 years)

4.) Require that family judges and attorneys attend training specifically about foster care and custodial termination (I wholeheartedly agree that this training shold be mandated).

All of these improvements will need to be approved by the General Assembly. If they are not approved, they are basically 'dead in the water.'

Definition of 'dead in the water:' Not going anywhere or making any progress, e.g. The crippled ship was dead in the water. With no leadership, the project was dead in the water.

Meanwhile, Kentucky State Auditor Crit Luallen has released a performance audit of the states adoption process from foster care. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services... again, can you see the conflict of interest, it's difficult for a beaurocracy to audit itself... issued a news release saying the audit would offer "general recommendations" for improving the adoption process.

Conversely, Crit Luallen's audit indicated that "Kentucky should make adoption a higher priority." Here is a direct quote: "The Commonwealth has an interest in making adoptions a favorable choice for Kentucky families." A financial interest, yes.

I don't want children to languish in foster care. If their biological parents cannot and will not care for them, I have no problem with putting them up for adoption.

What troubles me is the financial interest that the Cabinet has in facilitating speedy custodial terminations. The state receives a bonus of $4,000 for each adopted child, and more if the child has special needs. I will link to my previous blog entry on May 7th for your convenience.

Sources
Honeycutt-Spears, Valarie. Auditor to report on adoption, foster care practices today - Quick-trigger adoptions alleged. Lexington Herald-Leader, Dec. 14, 2006, City & Region pg. C4.

Honeycutt-Spears, Valarie. Panel wants Kentucky's adoption laws changed: Focuses on parents' rights. Lexington Herald-Leader, Dec. 15, 2006, City & Region pg. C1.

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Comments:
Lisa,
I LIKE your blog, and your tone.
How do I conmtact you through email?
How did you get involved in such an hard issue to educate the public on?
Thanks!
 
I've been reading your blog for a while to gain more insight into the children that I foster...I wanted to personally invite you to cometo the Soul Of Adoption Forums where members of all sides of the triad would greatly benefit from your POV and experience!

http://www.soulofadoption.com/forum/
 
Anonymous poster, I grew up in foster care myself.

www.sunshinegirlonarainyday.com

There is a link to email me.

Naomi, thank you for the invitation. I will definitely take you up on it!

Lisa
 
Lisa,

I found you on a google search for foster/adoption blogs. Extremely great information.

Just an FYI - I am an attorney & have been appointed to two TPR cases here in Missouri. I got paid NOTHING. Still advocated zealously for my client (both cases, a mother) & they both regained custody of their kids.

But not all attorneys would try so hard & I think the State should pay something to the attorneys.

Keep up the good work.
 
Anonymous poster,

Thank you for advocating for children, even when you aren't being paid what you are worth.

I have two friends who are lawyers in California, and they might offer support and understanding about the issues you face...

Please email me anytime,
Lisa
 
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