If you find yourself in a position where you are not able to provide the basic care for your child that he or she needs, then you have a series of difficult decisions to make. Admitting to yourself that there is a problem is the first decision, and then the following decisions will center around what to do about it. Determining that there is a problem can be the most difficult step to make, but also the most important for you and your child.
It could be that you are a young mom with no ability or resources to care for your child. You may not have a support system here in Texas or the support system you do have it unwilling or unable to provide you with any assistance when it comes to caring for your baby. The problem may also stem from a physical or mental handicap that your child has. Some parents have children who physically abuse them due to a mental impairment that the child is not able to control.
In circumstances like these, it is not uncommon for a parent to consider the possibility of voluntarily relinquishing their parental rights. A voluntary relinquishment means that you as a parent would willingly place your child into CPS custody and are agreeable to a court legally terminating your relationship with your child. This is obviously a very serious topic and one that I wanted to devote some time to today in our blog post.
How to handle a situation involving a child with severe emotional problems
Like we touched on a moment ago, it could happen that our child has severe problems involving their behavior, their physical well-being or their emotional state. The fact is that you and your family may not be in a position to provide your child with the level of medical or psychological care that he or she needs to function well in society. Specialized care may be needed for your child. Drug or alcohol treatment facilities are available for children suffering from impairments like these but may cost more money to attend than you can realistically afford.
CPS may receive a report regarding issues involving abuse or neglect of your child and would intervene in order to ensure your child’s safety. In the event that CPS determines that you have refused to accept parental responsibility for your child, they can legally take custody of him or her. Learning what services are available to people in your position is key to being able to regain custody of your child.
What happens if you are in a position where you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse?
If you abuse drugs or alcohol, then you are not in a position to parent your child as well as you could if you were able to maintain a level of sobriety. Many parents are surprised to learn that even if they never use drugs or alcohol in front of their children that the well-being of their children may nevertheless be at risk.
Even if you have not yet given birth to your child then you may be placing your child at risk of harm by using drugs or alcohol while you are pregnant. When your child is an infant your drug or alcohol use can taint breast milk and lead to your child developing an illness or even an addiction to drugs.
On a more practical level, if you are in an altered mental state as a result of your abusing drugs or alcohol then you expose your child to risks that he or she may place themselves in danger when you are not able to quickly react to prevent potential harm. If you are choosing to spend money on drugs and alcohol rather than food for your children, this is an obvious sign that you are not able to make decisions that are appropriate for the well-being of your child.
The reality of abusing drugs is that you are more likely than not to bring other abusers into your home or have people selling drugs in the home. Bringing people that are not engaging in safe behavior into your home then you are placing your child at unnecessarily high risk of having a dangerous situation arise in the home.
What is the likely outcome of a CPS case involving your child if you are a drug abuser?
If you are involved in a CPS case because you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, then you will have a tough time getting your child back into your home quickly. CPS is going to ask a great deal from you in the event that drugs and/or alcohol are a part of your case. Even if you no longer use alcohol or drugs you will still likely need to show CPS that you are capable of addressing the needs of your child on a consistent basis.
Drug testing will certainly be a part of the case. These drug tests are usually random in nature, meaning that you will be asked to submit to a urine or hair follicle test with very little notice beforehand. Even if drug testing is not a part of your case then you will still need to have conversations with your caseworker regarding why you use drugs or alcohol and the impact of those drugs and alcohol on your parenting. These conversations obviously will not be pleasant ones but are necessary to provide CPS with information as to the extent of your addiction.
The next step after you speak to your caseworker about your addiction is that you will be asked to submit to a drug and alcohol assessment. This questionnaire will make sure that you are able to receive appropriate treatment for your addiction. You will need to follow whatever recommendations are made within that assessment, no matter what.
Sometimes a recommendation is made that you can only have supervised visitation with your child. This occurs when a CPS caseworker observes a short (usually 2-3 hour) visitation session with your child at a CPS facility. The CPS caseworker will be paying close attention to your behavior towards your child in order to see if there are any warning signs for behavior that may place your child at risk in the future.
Finally, if you are using drugs and alcohol it is unlikely that your child will be able to remain in your house with you. If you are being asked to attend drug or alcohol counseling or treatment while your CPS case is ongoing you will likely not be able to attend to the hourly needs of your child. You can speak to your CPS caseworker about what options are available to you in order to balance your need to receive treatment and the ability of your child to spend as much time with you as possible.
What should you do when your CPS case ends?
All things, both good and bad, come to an end. Your CPS case may seem like it will never end, but believe me, it will. A judge will have made a decision in your case and you and your family must accept that decision and move forward with your lives.
If your child is not coming home that means you and your family have suffered a terrible loss. It does not matter if you have willingly allowed your parental rights to be terminated or if you lost them in a contested court case- this is not a good day for you and your family. There are ways that you can move past this event with strength and a vision to improving your life, however, rather than getting stuck in the sadness of the event.
Keep in mind, however, that if you have other children to care for that you need to be present for those children. Allowing yourself to be stuck in the past regarding the loss of one child does not justify your inability to care for another. Working on problems that were identified in the CPS investigation is a good idea. If you are battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol you should speak to CPS about continuing with counseling sessions even if it means you paying money to do so now that your CPS case has ended.
If your child is able to return to your home, you should…
On the other hand, your child could be returned to your home via a judge's decision in your CPS case. This would cause most any family to feel profound happiness. You should celebrate the progress that you and your family made during the CPS case. It could be that you even grew as a parent and that your relationship with your child could be strengthened due to your involvement in the CPS case.
However, you need to remain on the path that caused you to win your case. If you have started seeking help for a drug or alcohol addiction, now is not the time to stop. The cravings and urges to use those substances will not stop just because your child has been returned home. Actually, it may be possible for those desires to come back even stronger now that your child is back home with you. You may unknowingly fall into the old habits you had developed now that your child is home.
Regardless, your child has been out of your home for an extended period of time and is now home again. You can help your child transition back into your house by preparing for the move ahead of time. Developing a parenting plan for how to raise your child when he or she returns home is a good idea. Keep the support system in place that you developed throughout your CPS case. Your ability to parent is likely greater now that you have been through the rigors of CPS involvement.
If your child has been enrolled in a school that is not zoned to your home, it is likely that you will have to re-enroll your child in their old school unless you can transport him or her to the new school.
Talk to your child about they need from you
Do not assume that you will have to figure things out on your own, as far as parenting is concerned. Depending on the age of your child, you can ask him or her what their needs are as far as involvement by you.
For instance, if your child needs a time set aside each night to complete homework assignments you should ask him or her what their preference is. Some children do better with a homework hour set immediately after school. Others need time to unwind, eat a meal and then settle in for homework before bed. Check with your student before he or she begins a schedule that you set forth for him or her.
We will pick up with this topic tomorrow and will continue to discuss post-CPS. Specifically, I will provide you with some tips on how to keep CPS out of your life now that your case is finally over with.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Visitation Modification
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
- Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
- Texas Parental Relocation
- Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas CPS defense Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding CPS, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX CPS defense Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our CPS defense lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles CPS defense cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.