Six months ago today, Precious joined our family. She is just that, PRECIOUS!
I really thought BB would be the last permanent addition, but God had other plans. Although their birth mother did show some interest with Precious, she couldn't follow through. I'm sad for her; she doesn't know what she is missing. I do think she knows that her little ones are being well cared for.
It is amazing that Precious was legally free for adoption before she was six months old. That is practically a record in the child welfare system. I'm so happy that some of the changes in our court system ("baby court") are working to achieve permanency sooner for these little ones.
I have been an extern at the court this summer for law school in a division of this new "baby court". Precious' case is no longer an exception. TPR is happening quickly more and more often when parents either give up or simply don't follow through. In my state, parents of children under three only have six months to demonstrate they can safely parent their children. After that, a motion for TPR can be filed based on six months time-in-care (15 months is grounds for children three and older). More time is often allowed if the parents are actively participating in services, but those who "play games" and pick and choose what they do will soon be done.
Fortunately, the flip side is also happening for families where the parents work hard to get their children returned. In some cases, those children are going home in less than a year, another timeframe that used to almost never occur. CPS is held accountable to provide the services and do their job. It is up to the parents to make their choice. If they do what is asked, they will likely succeed. If they decide not to follow the rules and complete the services offered to them, the court will make an alternate permanency decision for these young children at the six month point, and the case will move to adoption.
Finally, the best interests of the child is driving the case, at least in the area of timelines. Less and less are parents able to do "just enough" to drag the case out and leave their children in limbo. Isn't this what should have been happening all along? If you want your kids back, WORK FOR IT. Having someone else take care of them so you can visit them twice a week and party the rest of the time is not parenting. I'm glad to say that the judges in our "baby court" now have this philosophy as well.