Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Story of Joseph - Changing Strategy

Shortly after Christmas there was a shift in the way Joseph's case was being handled. Someone finally got a clue that Julie was not a good candidate to parent Joseph and the focus turned to Joey.

I had major apprehensions about this. I had always like Joey but I knew he wasn't going to be able to take care of Joseph. He didn't know how to do things like change a diaper or make a bottle. Despite the fact that he had been shown how to do these things repeatedly he just didn't get it.

Joseph's visitation schedule with Joey and Julie changed once again. Julie still had her two hour parent/child interaction with Joseph once a week but she no longer had the extra hour long joint visit with Joey. That didn't matter, she had long since stopped coming to them. Joey also lost the hour long visit and in it's place he started going to a two hour parent/child class once a week.

Ok, I'm just going to say this. I HATED taking Joseph to those classes. It was an hour long drive into a very yucky part of Minneapolis during the worst time of the year weather-wise. I would pack Joseph into the car and skid along the icy roads in the dark (because the class was held in the evening) as I clutched the steering wheel and prayed we didn't get into a horrible wreck. Once we actually got to the center I would have to take Joseph in and wait around with a big group of scuzzy looking dads who had all been court ordered to be there because they weren't able to parent their children. Joey was always late because he got picked up and brought to the visits by a van from the center and the van was always late. It was not unusual to have to wait half an hour or so for Joey to get there.

The good news was that once Joey got there he really seemed to enjoy his time with Joseph. Where Julie was passive and disinterested Joey was eager and involved. There was a lot he didn't know how to do for Joseph but he always tried. After each visit he would talk excitedly about his plans for what would happen once Joseph was living with him. And, as he always did, he thanked us for taking such good care of Joseph and for dressing him in such nice outfits.

During this time I had to take Joseph to several appointments where Joey's parenting skills were assessed. Basically they were put into a room together and people watched to see how well Joey did with it all. I never heard many details of how this all went but from the bits and pieces I overheard I knew it never went well. Obviously no one ever gave me a full report or anything but I would hear things like "We can tell he's trying but......" and "I can see that he loves Joseph but...." It was becoming clear that Joey was not a viable option for parenting Joseph.

Joey didn't seem to realize the direction things were moving in. At the end of one weekly visit Joey broke my heart a little bit when he said "I just moved into a big house with my friend. It will be a great place for Joseph to grow up!"

You can imagine how surprised we were when Joey didn't show up for his next visit. Or his next one. On the third missed visit I tracked down the van driver and asked him what was going on. He said that each week he had been going to pick up Joey and for the past three weeks Joey had waved him on and said he wasn't going to his visits.

We never saw Joey again. We wouldn't learn this till later on but apparently Julie and Joey had broken up and Julie's family (who had never done anything to help Joseph or Julie throughout all of this) went to Joey and told him that "the judge" had decided that Joey wasn't allowed to go to visits anymore and that if he did show up he would be arrested. Joey, not understanding how things really worked assumed that they were telling him the truth and stopped going to visits. I somehow ended up talking to Vera about this and she said "It doesn't matter. He wasn't going to get Joseph back anyway."

But it did matter! I didn't know how she could say that. Someone who loved Joseph, who cared about him, who liked to see him wear a baseball cap had been bullied into never seeing him again when he had every right to see him. No, Joey wasn't going to end up raising Joseph but what Julie's family did to him was wrong.

By the time any one got around to trying to correct the situation Joey had left town. No one knew where he had gone or how to get ahold of him.

With Joey out of the picture there was still the question of what to do with Joseph. As Joseph's "really short placement" moved into it's seventh month the decision was made to work on having Joseph live with Julie again. We were told that Joseph would start having weekend long visits with Julie at her new group home. I had thought things had been bad before. They were about to get much worse.


Cathy said...

That's so wrong what they did to Joey. Ugh...
(I'm so loving and looking forward to this story! Great job!)

Sam said...

Wow. "Let's give the baby to the disinterested mother living in a group home!!" Awesome plan of attack. I am SO glad that I know the end of the story.

slackermommy said...

This is so gut wrenching. What a hard time for you.

Alison Wonderland said...

I know the end (basically) but I'm scared anyway.

Jesurgislac said...

Here via Unfogged (Heebie-Geebie rec'd you) and I have to say I am completely hooked on "the Joseph story". (And relieved (spoiler alert!) that I don't have to worry if it doesn't have a happy ending.)

Jen said...

cathy - It was so wrong. I get sad when I think of it.

sam - Yeah, isn't it amazing that someone thought that was a good idea?

slackermommy - It was hard for me but at the time I was mostly worried about Joseph. I knew he didn't stand a chance with Julie.

alison - It gets better soon, I promise!

Jesurgislac - I have a special place in my heart for anyone who came from unfogged. You guys just about made my site meter explode yesterday!

nell said...

Thank God poor Joseph had you and Jesse in between all of these strange hours and weekend visits!

It's really terrible that Julie's family took advantage of Joey like that, he sounds like a sweet guy, even if he wasn't ever going to be able to be Joseph's father.