A lifetime of neglect, substance abuse, and family violence has taken a toll on a sibling group recently placed in Wisconsin foster care. Removed from their home in the middle of the night, the kids are now in a stable, loving CCR foster home. With a team of professionals supporting the foster parents, the kids will begin to heal. Unfortunately, the biological parents have a long and troubled history. Their choices and behaviors ultimately led to the painful separation from their children. Here is a portion of their story.
Police were called for a domestic disturbance at 3:00 am. A neighbor made the call concerned for several children in the home. Law Enforcement completed a home search with permission and located drugs, drug paraphernalia, and a loaded firearm with children present. Upon arrival, 2 children were found in the living area, and two others slept on the floor in another room. Police noted that the welfare of the children was in question due to drugs, guns, and domestic violence. Additionally, the home was noted as unsanitary with dangerous conditions. Emergency removal of the children was required, and the kids were taken into protective custody. The parents were arrested.
The home's condition indicated that no adult in the home was completing basic tasks such as laundry, cleaning, or maintenance. Police reported minimal food in the home and the refrigerator was not plugged in. Three of the children are school age and were attending virtual school. All three are reportedly significantly behind in school work. The older children, 9 and 7 years old, reported that their mom spent most of the day sleeping. The 9-year-old was responsible for the care of the youngest children. The 7-year-old reported that both parents stayed up all night smoking drugs and drinking with friends. There was a significant amount of fighting and yelling reported in the home.
Biological mom, Mary, describes her childhood as traumatic and frightening. She states that her mother cheated on her father often, and her dad was rarely present due to his job. When present he was a heavy drinker. Her mother had men in and out of the house while her dad was away. She states that 2 of the men made her uncomfortable and afraid.
Mary recalls a lot of yelling and fighting between her parents when they were together. She spent most of her time avoiding the turmoil while trying to feel safe with her older brothers. Then, at the young age of 15, her mother died unexpectedly in a traffic accident.
Mary states she began drinking and smoking THC in her early teen years; by 18, she was using meth. Her highest frequency was twice per day. She has also used heroin in the past in addition to a variety of prescription pills.
Mary and Lucas met when they were teens. They have been together on and off since then. Domestic violence has been prevalent in their relationship since the beginning. Fighting happens regularly, but Lucas states they always seem to make up eventually. Mary states that Lucas does not trust her. He would not allow her to go to the store without him, and she could not visit with friends unless he went along. If they were social with friends, it was on his schedule. Mary states that Lucas would often get physically aggressive with her. Lucas believes one of the children is not his biological child.
Lucas dropped out of high school his senior year. His father died of alcoholism when he was 14-years-old, and he states he was molested by a neighbor when he was a young boy. He believes he has a good relationship with his mom and sister but does not see them often. Lucas states that he has moved the family around a lot, trying to avoid the drug scene.
He and Mary seemed to find new friends everywhere they went, and most were using meth. Then, four years ago, the couple moved to a new town after involvement with CPS regarding drug use and a filthy house. The children were removed and placed with his cousin for about 6 months. Lucas reported his mom was not in a position to care for the kids at that time.
Mary is currently struggling with depression. She feels overwhelmed with the CPS process of her kids, Lucas's incarceration, and feeling like a failure. She continues to use drugs and says when her kids were home, she typically used meth while at a friend's house or outside. Mary states she always took showers and changed her clothes so the kids wouldn't have any drugs on them.
However, when the kids were removed from the home, two of them had drug residue in their hair.
Both parents claim that the last 8 months have been terrible with drug use. In addition, Mary admits to cheating on Lucas earlier this year. The couple claims they were using meth and THC regularly only when the kids were sleeping. Lucas stored all paraphernalia in a kitchen cabinet. Both parents admit friends came over regularly to party.
Lucas is currently incarcerated. He states he misses his children and wants them to know he hopes to see them soon. A virtual meeting with the kids is being considered. However, Lucas will be required to complete a parenting education program if he wishes to be in contact with the children in the future.
Mary was living with her boyfriend for a short time after the kids were removed from her care. She is now living with an aunt and says she is doing the best she can to stay clean. Mary has had a few part-time jobs but cannot consistently remain employed for more than a week or two. She hopes to have an apartment of her own again someday.
She recognizes that she should refrain from seeing certain friends because she always uses drugs when with them. She admits she is an addict and that drugs mask her feelings and block out much of her childhood. She feels she has no support or anyone to talk to. She has been allowed to speak with her children on the phone, but there have been no in-person visits.
Both parents will need to continue working on their sobriety, as documented by the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, both Mary and Lucas will participate in mental health therapy and follow all recommendations, including attending appointments. Conditions to reunify safely will require 120 days of sobriety, engagement in AODA and mental health services, participation in parenting education courses, and safe, stable housing.
All four children are together in a two-parent foster home. One foster parent works full time, and the other is a stay-at-home parent. The kids have been participating in extra-curricular activities and love to play outside together. The younger children are struggling with inappropriate behaviors and listening skills. They were sharing a bedroom but have recently been separated, which seems to help with bedtime routines. An appropriate hygiene routine has been a learning curve for all the children, although they are making progress. Mealtimes are also a struggle, and both older kids have consistent bad dreams.
The foster family has 2 dogs, a cat, and chickens. All the kids have enjoyed the pets, and the older two kids are learning to care for the chickens.
The 9-year-old continues to parent the younger children and often doesn't know how to be a kid. Both older kids have expressed they like living in a quiet house with no yelling.
Therapy services have been put in place, and the foster parent's Case Manager visits the home each week. This is the foster family's first placement since getting a foster care license. They have one biological daughter in the home who has been very helpful during the transition. The foster parents and CCR team are hopeful to witness much healing and progress over the next few months. However, it is anticipated that this will be a fairly long placement due to Mary's inability to get sober and Lucas' incarceration. We desperately want this family to get healthy and reunite!
Interested in learning how you can become a foster parent in Wisconsin and help kids heal from significant trauma? Call us. We would love to help you explore.