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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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I am presently trying to gaurdianship of an eight yr old

Customer Question

i am presently trying to gaurdianship of an eight yr old little boy. i've known him since infancy, i was best friend's with his mom. Unfortunately, she died in jan 2010 and the father had disappeared almost a year prior. he was the one with custody. almost done with gaurdianship thru a private att the dad show's up, i had to call the state to take custody. i knew they would take him from me due to non relative and dcf history , none in around four yrs but still marked in the system. i have to prove myself to the court, but how do i get the dr he see's to see that' he's more than adhd? this child has violent outbursts, suicidal idealation's, beaten and battered by dad, watched mom drink herself to death, watched domestic violence since infancy, and was taken from us where we had him in the services he needed and he is still not recieveing those services after three month's of being in foster care. his med's are messed up and only being treated for adhd. i dont know how to help him
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

You should meet with the boy's teacher at school and attempt to write a detailed, joint letter to the court (talk to the court clerk regarding whether this should initially go to the judge, a particular district or county attorney or the particular judge that handles this case). You should suggest that a complete psychological evaluation and home study be ordered by the court because you are concerned about the best interests of the boy. If the court has appointed a guardian ad litum for the boy, this person should serve as the child's advocate and should follow-up to see that this is being done. You want a child clinical psychologist to do the evaluation---someone who will use interviews, standardized psychological tests. The request should focus on: 1) what is the child's psychological status; are there any mental health issues or diagnoses that require specific treatment; 2) what living situation is optimal for the boy, according to an independent study of the assets and limitations of the living options that are available. You should also complain to the court and the social services staffer who is supposed to be overseeing his foster care that he is not receiving the treatment he needs. [Was particular treatment mandated at the time the foster care was ordered? If so, by whom, and was a particular therapist or treatment facility named? Follow up on this point to collect information, and share it in this letter ].

You will probably not gain custody unless the father is deemed to be an unsuitable parent.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your question.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
these are all thing's i've done. the dcf team was called in by me due to the father's criminal and violent behavior to the child which is documented. i had this child in my home with all of these services in effect for a little over a year and had a private attorney doing the work. i involved dcf due to the father resurfacing and fear for the boy's safety. dcf is currently trying to place the little boy with me but keep referencing my background. I have had dcf investigation's over four year's ago and it was all for marijuana but found no issue's in the reports. why wont they let me know what's in my background that i'm having to defend? they all claim i am a suitable non relative gaurdian. And are fighting the judge to let him be placed here. i have no say in doing any of the thing's you recommended, i did get them to do a psych eval but he has more than adhd going on and i believe dcf downplayed his issues. my question is if my background is so bad and questionable why would they be trying to place him with me? is it the amount of investigations' i had? i've been in the same services for over four year's since the last dcf investigation on me. no incedents, my children straight a students, my oldest has aspergers' syndrome, they are regular with what they recieve. what are my chances with a judge with all of these people pushing for him to be with me? what do i have to do to prove to this judge that i am suitable? i only had my children removed once and no felony charges or convictions, same job for over six yrs, i dont know what else i have to prove. i dont even know what's in my background but how can it be so bad that they are pushing gaurdianship with me? they have no intention of reunification with the father. i dont understand and it's driving me insane. they wont tell me what's in my background so that i can even defend it. all i know is what the investigation's were. do i have a good chance with this judge? i have letter's from the boy's school while he is in my home and other professional's, and the attorney we hired to do all this in the beginning will be at the hearing with me. do i have a good chance? is is just because i've had so many investigation's? around 4-6 in a three year span. i am a good mother, and this child stoped wetting himself constantly, having violent outburst's, learned to use hygiene, stopped talking about death for himself, and now he's reverted back to all of that since leaving my home. does any of what we did for this child count to the judge or will it only be my background that makes his decision?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
It sounds as if one office or staff member in either dcf or the courts, can't quite agree with another one about what the best disposition is in this case. It is good to hear however, that that placement with the father is probably out of the picture. Have your attorney's asked dcf to review all of the investigation records they have on you----on the basis of the fact that they may very well contain errors that you have a right to correct? Portions of such records can be withheld perhaps, if it violates the privacy of other parties, but in the main, I really think they could press for these documents to be reviewed by you. So here would be the approach:

You compose a letter to the local dcf director summarizing your history with the boy (1-3 sentences), your interest in continuing to care for him, and the stellar track record you have with your own kids (all you included in the above post). You suggest that you are the optimal family to take this boy in and such a situation is also highly desired by the boy. You then note that an obstacle to having this occur appear to be reports and investigations completed by dcf and that you would like to review them to correct any errors of fact, because you believe this would expedite a decision regarding the placement of this boy with you.

This would be my first step, based on all you reported to me thus far. Let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your question, or any issue you hoped I would address.
Dr. Michael and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
unfortuanately the hearing is only a few day's off and all the history was submitted, that's why they removed him from my home, due to failing the history investigation. nothing more. are my chances good ? i will do as you recommend for my own knowledge and sanity, but the anxiety is extreme. there are expert's, gaurdian ad litem, dcf themselves, all recommending placement with me, is it common for a judge to go with all of this or strictly by the history? i dont want to fail this little boy, he's part of our family, and he's all alone. are chances good with the commonality of a judge going with all of these people as well as my attorney and the statement's from the people ive been in services with for almost four years, since the last investigation? will he consider that i've been out of trouble and clean for this amount of time? and will he consider what i'd done with this child while he was in my home for the year previous to dcf? i am concerned and am having major anxiety. i feel like i have to justify and defend myself so i can love and take care of this child. i have paid my dues for my mistakes and if my past is so bad would dcf even be recommending him placement with me for permanant gaurdianship? everyone's for it, it's convincing the judge. i am so full of anxiety right now.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
Your attorney's could ask for a delay, citing the need to review the dcf investigation records and affording you an opportunity to correct errors.

Actually, if I had lay bets, I would bet that you will get custody, if the recommendations are unanimous as you suggest. Politically, the judge is generally under some degree of unspoken pressure to take the recommendations of the numerous experts he/she relies on seriously, and not make a unilateral decision that contradicts the consensus of opinion. So, again, if I were asked to place a bet, it would be that he will support the recommendations he receives. What is really important is that this boy wants this placement far more than foster care and this should weigh strongly in your favor.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
he does. the foster parent's and the school teacher, anyone this child comes into contact with, the dcf worker, the gaurdian ad litem, hes repeatedly telling them he want's to be with his aunt jeannette. in his mind we are family, we have history. he know's us as far back as he can remember. Is there anything i can or need to do other than what i'm already doing? i like the idea of delaying the hearing for review of the report's but i dont deem that wise with the suffering this child is already going thru and the anxiety. How can i help from a distance with his outburst's and rage? i was able when he lived with me but how do i help him now, until this is setteled with the judge? and if the judge does tell me no, how do i help this little boy? he misses his mother severely and he will have to be in a more secure setting if i dont get custody. his anger and melt down's are that major. his foster mother and i have become close and she assures me if he's not placed with me she will help pick a suitable setting. But how do i help him with the limited access i would have? I feel bad for putting him in this position in the first place knowing i would have my history called up to defense, i feel so guilty, but i could'nt risk any more physical and emotional harm with his father. his father would've eventually killed him. this guilt i cant shake, i feel responsible.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
There isn't much you can do. I agree that you should not delay the hearing, based on the information you provided in the last post. This boy's anger outbursts and rage are simply reactions to his ongoing sense of insecurity and disruption in his living arrangements and mothering. This would subside dramatically if he is placed with you once again.

I would invite you to write me again if the judge says 'no' and this boy is placed elsewhere. It would be helpful at that point to get your view of his situation, what the reasons were for the denial and then decide how to best support the boy emotionally. It would clearly make sense to insist on a release of the investigation reports if the judge says 'no', because any errors in the reports might be shown to be the cause of his refusal. What your attorney can do is let the social services staff member or anyone from that office that will be present in court to know that if the judge says 'no', you will be immediately asking for all of the investigation reports and anything on file about you, to plan an appeal, so it is your hope the judge says 'yes' this time around. Such a message will indicate to the person that if they get to testify, they need to be as positive and enthusiastic as possible----but you aren't coaching them directly, of course. They will make the appropriate inference.

Nothing else you can really do at this point except try to bind your anxiety and say a few prayers if you are religious. You have been this kid's 'savior' to date and I don't see any rational basis for you to feel guilty.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
Incidentally, please do not forget to hit the Accept button before you log out.. Thanks very much.