Termination of parental rights (TPR) is where the parents involuntarily lose their parental rights. This is something that does not happen overnight. The parents (in most areas) are given around a year to work their service plan to regain custody of their children. If the parents are “somewhat” working their plan they can been given extensions.
If the parents are not working the plan then a TPR trial will be scheduled. Some courts and states go with mediation before the TPR court date. It can be a benefit in a number of ways, it can save a lengthy and costly trial, and it can also allow the birth parents some contact with their children that will be placed up for adoption.
If you are the foster parent and thinking or planning to adopted the foster child then you should be part of this mediation. You do not have to be present to be part of it. In some cases a supervisor of Children Services will call you and more or less represent you. She will talk to you about what kind of contact if any you are willing to have with the birth parents. During the mediation she can step out and call you if something comes up or questions arise.
Do not agree to something that you cannot live with, this will be an agreement approved by the court. This is something that you will have to live with, so take some time and think about things. It can be easy to get caught in the thought you would agree to anything to protect the child that you have grown to love. I have heard a few foster parents make this statement. The truth is that there are plenty of things most foster parents would not want to do (ex: child spends holidays with birth family, unsupervised monthly visits, etc.) so, think about the statements you make.
Take the time to think about the exact wording and consequences of what you are willing to do and ask yourself some questions about the kind of contact you believe is best. Read more about wording and questions “How to Prepare Yourself for TPR Mediation”.
Please share your experiences and thoughts about the TPR process of foster care below.