I have 2 little ones since Nov 11, 2015. They are now 17 mos old & 33 mos old. They came to me because they were homeless. Mom was in an abusive relationship. Dad of youngest is in prison in LA for domestic violence. Mom would not come back to Monroe County with children when they were picked up. She then went to Atlanta & now is back in the Keys. Of course reunification is the goal, however, she has 5 children (1 in Honduras, 2 in the Dominican Republic & 2 here in the US, all with different fathers). The ones out of the country are with their fathers. She has not cared for any of them for any length of time. She is not a citizen, speaks very little English, has no skills & is working as a housekeeper at a resort here in the Keys. She has received non specific threats from the ex in prison & has supposedly had to change her cell phone # several times. Is back with her where these children should be? She arrived back in Monroe County the end of January & was 1 1/2 hrs late to her first visit with them after not seeing them for 3 months. I am very frustrated with the system. Can you give me any advice?
It sounds as if a dependency action has been initiated and the children were placed with you. As you know, reunification is the goal. Unless the mother is proven to be an unfit mother and unable to care for her children, the children will likely be able to be reunified with her should she be able to complete her case plan objectives. Otherwise, should she not be able to care for the children or complete her case plan, DCF may ultimately move to terminate her parental rights, at that point it would be possible for you to simultaneously pursue adoption. However, you do not have "parental rights" prior to the mother's being terminated. Florida only recognizes children as having one mother and one father. Be involved with, participate in, and keep an eye on the dependency action - it may be beneficial to hire an attorney and seek to intervene in the action. Consult with a local family law attorney and they will be able to tailor what is needed to your specific situation. Good Luck!
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You used the term "reunification" which makes it seems as if there is a dependency case pending with the court. If so you should see if there is a possibility of you obtaining permanent guardianship over the children or adopt them. If there is no dependency case, and the children have been living with you for some time now you can seek to either obtain temporary custody of the children, a guardianship over the children, or adopt the children out right. Each form of case is very different and you should speak with an attorney to discuss your options.
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