Monday, January 18, 2016

Who the Heck is Anthony

So several folks asked after yesterday's post (here), "Who the heck is Anthony?" (primarily you can thank Nicole)

Anthony was a little two year old boy who was a foster kiddo for our family about two or three years ago. He stayed with us for about ten months. He was a super sweet little kiddo and spoke in squaks and screeches since he was a tad behind in the development of his speaking words. He came to us because his folks were having a hard time. Anthony's little brother died suspiciously in the home, so since there was a record of drug abuse, and physical abuse n the family, CPS decided it was best that Anthony stay with us while they conducted an investigation into the little baby's death.

There were days were Anthony was a challenge, he had fits that were just a shade less than uncontrollable, he didn't like eating his vegetables, but he loved his brothers and seemed to love our home. It was a great ten months and we would have gladly adopted the tyke had we gotten the chance, but after ten months he went home and all was for the best.

So we thought.

About a year after he went home we got a call that he was in the foster care system again. Apparently his parents had split up, he was living out of a car with his mom, and she had just given birth to another little boy, but had been found to be high when she was admitted to the hospital. CPS jumped in a again and we were called.

The second time we had him it was for another ten months. Let me tell you meeting him that second time was surreal. First of all, he could talk. That first go round I never heard him say a word. Then I go pick him up and he talks to me. Mind blower. Secondly, he was not at all happy to see me. Seems as though he blamed us for letting him go that first time. He hardly looked at me. We got over it and then during the ride home I heard him talk about his dad's guns, and how there was shooting, and his mom and him had to hide in the car so the police couldn't come get him. Broke my heart to hear about his year from him.

Another ten months and now he's gone again. This time he's back at the foster care agency with a family group of other long term foster care kiddos. It would seem that CPS was loath to force a separation from his parents as they would have a hard time proving he was in immediate danger, despite the two children that had previously died in that household. The parents did not want to relinquish their parental rights. Plus both parents were members of different Indian tribes. If any formal or official movement toward adoption was started the tribes would have to be informed and based on their history, the tribes would want to take him into their care if they knew he was out there.

Finally, the foster care agency didn't want to do anything because in their eyes Anthony was perfectly safe and sound with us . . . in limbo perhaps . . . but safe. Additionally, their continued goal was to have Anthony and get back with his parents despite the fact that his parents are alcoholics, continue to fail drug tests (the last one was for meth and cocaine) and despite both being diagnosed as bi-polar. They had a host of problems, but throwing Anthony in a newborn would hardly help them overcome those problems.

So here was this little guy who was stuck in (long-term limbo) and we decided that that just wasn't an option for us. It was a tough decision made easier by Anthony's continually worsening fits. Still feel incredibly guilty about his not being here, and still wonder what would have happened had we tried a bit harder, but there you have it.

Like I said yesterday, I think about Anthony and think that his story which is so filled with challenges would be perfect for a villain in a movie or story. I think the harder thing to do would be find a way to make his story one of accomplishment and achievement. I think too that it would be a perfect vehicle for highlighting how messed up the foster care and adoption process can be, particularly where drugs and alcohol and Indian tribes are concerned.

I remember when the foster care agency found out that I was a novelist they asked if I had ever written about the foster to adopt process. I said that I hadn't. "You will, after this," the child psychologist said. That was before the process started. Who knew he would be so prescient or that it would be such a negative story.

But to sum up yesterday's post (here) . . . Anthony's story breaks my heart.