Bright Futures meeting results

Here is a summary of our meeting with Bright Futures on January 19th. The meeting was with Bright Futures and AJ, Jeri, myself, Katie and her parents. The Bright Future staff consisted of 3 social workers, a public health nurse, and a financial staffer.
Health & Nutrition: Katie will be applying for WIC (Women, Infants, Children). The program supplies nutrition to mother while pregnant and infants and children after birth. AJ & Katie also informed them that they had started their prenatal birthing classes on Monday nights.
Legal: At the hospital AJ will be signing the ROC (Recognition of Parentage). Technically, I guess that it means little, because at 18 they will ask him to sign it again. Since he is the age 16, he will not be listed on the birth certificate. We all were disappointed by that. In asking why, they told me because he is a minor. Though not wanting to sound trite, I still had to mention that Katie is 16 as well. Unfortunately, the laws have not caught up with society and/or there have been problems with it in the past. As an adult if confronted with the fact that he signed the ROC and was on the birth certificate, he could claim being a minor and not understanding what he was signing, if in the future he were to dispute the paternity. So is there any way around this? If we had a paternity test and it comes back as we expect. Can’t he be put on the certificate then? I really didn’t get a good answer on that. I understand that this situation is not common. Most times, when girls are pregnant this early, the father does not plan on being in the picture. I can hardly believe we are the first, but maybe we are the first to not just take the information and do what they say. This is a family, and mostly a boy, who wants to be sure that it is known that he is the father and will be there in every way possible. So… now it is up to me to call the court house and see if there is anyone that can answer this for us.Next topic… custody. Just because one signs the ROC, (which all single fathers must sign if claiming parentage), this strictly means….. NOTHING, in the case of the father. It means he is legally responsible and financially responsible. But by no means does it mean he has shared custody or any custody or visitation (if the couple is apart). The single mother has all parental rights. So, how do we get joint or shared custody? Do we have to hire a lawyer? If we are all in agreement, as we are, can’t we fill out a form of request or something and apply for it. Can the judge see it and sign it or do we have to go to court? Unfortunately, those questions couldn’t be answered for me. After Suzy did some investigating, she either forgot to ask, or had no answer for me. Though I did feel it her job to find that information out and let us know. But it will be me that needs to call the court house and/or lawyer and find out.
Child support: Well, until he is 18, there really is not any child support requirements. In fact if they start living together before or at Rory’s birth, there isn’t even any paperwork. But if they live separately, even at 16, AJ must fill out some forms and then at 18 a decision will be made according to the situation. They “system” does take into consideration if AJ will be going to college. They feel if the father takes an active roll in making a career for himself, it will surely benefit the baby in the future. As they should.
Family Development Goal: Not surprisingly, there are few resources for young expectant fathers. There are a few classes offered by PAIIR. Daddy boot camp is one that we will be looking into. Both Katie and AJ plan to be taking parenting classes. We did discuss starting up a boyfriend group for support. This, the social worker from CEC (school Katie attends) will attempt to start something up, as well as looking for some other resources for AJ. Social connections from school were mentioned. There are a few girls Katie interacts with at school, she was going to see if they had boyfriends in the picture and if so, maybe they could get together. I did mention church groups as well. Our youth pastor, Corey, was the reason I brought it up. I was wondering how I was going to bring up the subject to our pastors at the Baptist Church we attend. Growing up Catholic put me in the frame of mind that those that teach the word of God are somewhat unapproachable and of such high authority, I was intimidated. Aleck solved one problem, he told Pastor Corey of the situation. One day Pastor came over to the house. Wow.. was I nervous. He sat with me and talked to me, told me that he had heard about AJ & Katie. Then he said, “There is no child of God that is a ‘mistake’. God has a plan for all of us. This is obviously his plan for AJ & Katie. We have no idea what God has in store for us all, but we just have to have faith in him and his doing.” A child of God is not a mistake, not a stigma. Even as I sit here now, I can’t help the sigh of relief to escape me. Having Pastor Corey show such interest and concern made me see him and our church in a new life. He has visited with AJ since then and told him that he is there, for counseling, advise or guidance. AJ has since started up youth group every other week. I hope Katie will join him at some point. Probably going to be weird at first, but I hope they would find comfort in going. As far as Jeri and I, there is a grandparent class offered. Not the one of Grandparents raising their grandchildren, but one that gives us clues on how to be a healthy distance away and let Katie and AJ make certain choices for their child. How do we give advise without be obtrusive. This is something that I have no control over. I have resolved that fact, yet I still have lessons to learn and hope this class helps. Blane and Loraine showed some interest in the class as well.
Medical: Katie will remain on Blane’s policy and AJ on Jeri’s as long as they are full time students. Rory will be on medical assistance. Once they are no longer students, they will need to fid their own medical insurance or be on Medial Assistance as well. Until the age of 25, AJ and Katie can be covered by the Mayo policy as students.
Finally, Living arrangements: This one is a biggie for me. I did ask what has worked in the past, though there really wasn’t an answer for that. Every situation constitutes a different decision. It has been talked about that Katie, AJ and Rory will live as a family unit traveling from house to house. I feel making them a full time family will add much stress to a situation already engulfed in plenty of stress. I wondered if each teen parent taking turns (weekly) with the responsibility of Rory would work. During the day Rory would be at daycare or with Katie at school. Evenings the kids and Rory would be together at the house of the corresponding weekly assignment. At bed time it would be that parents turn in baths and reading and bedtime, as well as getting up in the night. This would then give the other parent the break at night to get good rest and maybe spend some time with friends and be a teenager. Both Katie and AJ are amazing. They grasp the facts that they will become parents and that they will have a responsibility to their child. Really a great attitude. But I worry, when will they be able to be teenagers? At this point they are ready to give that part of life up. They want to be responsible. But as a parent, I am still responsible for my child. After all he and Katie are still children. They have so much more to learn and experience. It is my job as parent to make sure that I fulfill my duties. With AJ spending half the time living at Katie’s, I don’t know that I will be doing the best for him, and the same goes for Katie and her parents. Aside from that, at 25 years old, I don’t want either of them to regret that they missed out on part of their adolescence and try to experience it at that point. We would be doing them no justice to force them to be adults before they are ready. And as kids do we really trust that they know they are ready? We are in a difficult situation. We must parent our teen parents as if they were not parents at all, yet teach them and require them to show their responsibility to their child. And at the same time we have to keep a healthy distance so that we are not Grandparents raising our grandchildren, but guiding our own children to be good parents. What a conundrum.
I am open to any advise someone may have. I think we can use all the help we can get.

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~ by mamadubs on January 28, 2007.

2 Responses to “Bright Futures meeting results”

  1. I just finished reading your newest entry.
    I can tell the legal issue is still weighing heavy on you.
    Would it help if all of us sit down to talk together?
    I can assure you, we want AJ to be Rory’s dad. There is nothing in this world I want more. I don’t want to do this alone.
    I know when all his started. What frighten me the most, we would be in it alone. In most cases the guy moves on once he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant.
    There a very few girls in Katie’s school that the boyfriend has stuck by them. AJ is very much the exception.
    You fear AJ will not get shared custody. We fear someday he will not want it.
    I told AJ that weekend we found out. “I thank God it was not with Matt”
    I didn’t know AJ all that well at the time. Something was telling me then, he was going to be a strong presences in this baby’s life. I felt a bit more at ease.

    On Sunday when we went into Albert Lea. You should have seen AJ and Katie. AJ was sleeping on the back couch in the van. Katie went over to him, and they cuddled for a longest time.
    The more times I see this happening. I build more confidence in everything.
    I know you want to create a situation that will ensure AJ has Rory in his life for ever. I say this with all my heart, I want it too.

    I don’t know how the living arrangements will be after Rory is born. Katie has commented she does not want to be away from her, for any length of time.
    I can’t force her to do it.
    I can’t split a mom from her baby. I don’t know if this means they are together all the time or as much as they want to be. I worry about it too. My hopes, it will somehow work it’s self out. Maybe when Rory is older, things will be different.
    I know we have some hurdles to overcome. I am scared when the time comes, we don’t agree on something. What happens?
    All I know is Katie is still my child, and AJ is yours. Like it was said at the meeting. We are not done raising them.
    What I see is, you and Jeri have strong, good values. You have done a wonderful job raising him. He is the kindest, most gentle young man I know. I am so proud to have him in our lives. He is going to be a wonderful dad. He really has the best example to follow. (YOU)

    How does all this it work with Rory? I don’t know. AJ and Katie are our children, is Rory too? Do we continue to raise Katie and AJ, allowing them to raise Rory? Being their backup when things get tough?
    I was looking for answers too at that meeting. I walked away feeling like I gained nothing.

    Maybe in the end, all we have is TRUST. We need to trust in each other.
    I really like what has happen. I enjoy the friendship we have built. It’s always fun getting together. With Rory here, all the more reason to be together. I look at us as in-laws, and when you look at it like that. It really is no different then any other family bought together with a grandchild.

    Bobbie, I truly believe God is looking out for us. I feel blessed in so many ways.
    having two daughters, I am living my biggest fear right now. Because of my belief in God, I am not afraid. My prayers are for our two kids to find all the happiness and strength to raise Rory as the happiest of little girls, together.
    So if there ever is a push from me. It will be to keep them together.

    I hope this helps to explain how we feel. Let me know if you would like to talk more about this.

  2. I’m glad you wrote to me. I think one of the awesome things that we all have going for us is the willingness to communicate. Sure, many times I worry that we will see differently on an issue. Heck, we would if there wasn’t this situation going on. That’s what makes everyone unique. But with us so willing to talk and share how we feel, we are lucky. It will be normal to feel differently about different issues. But in the willingness to talk, we also have the willingness to try and understand as well. Like you, we’ve never been in this situation and thoughts and ideas come up to us from all over the place. I can’t stress enough how lucky I feel we are that we all have the kind of relationship that we do. I too look at us as in-laws.
    I didn’t understand exactly how you felt. How you worried that a day could come that AJ not want to be in Rory and Katie’s life while I’ve worried that Katie would not want AJ in hers. The only way we can overcome this fear is talking and education. As you say that you do not want to separate mother and child, I don’t want to either or father and child. One way or the other I don’t know what to do. I want someone to tell me what is best, what has worked. I am not opposed or for any certain situation of living. I just want to do what works. It may be that they have to go as a family to one house or the other, as I said in my blog, as we both have so much yet to teach AJ and Katie. I guess that is where the idea of the kids all going back and forth, this way neither of us adult parents are ‘giving up’ our teens to the other set of parents. Not sure that is the best way to put it, but hope you get what I mean. And how do we go about making sure that they still experience being teens? How does that work? That’s where the idea of just spending overnight without Rory came into play. I do think us talking would be good, but even better, I think we should talk with the social worker that is planning on meeting with AJ and Katie. My point of ‘do we trust our 16 year olds that they are equipped with enough information or life experiences to make the decision that they want to live together at both houses’? Will it be right to let them make the decision? I guess talking about it, well, we can’t lose by doing that. I think back to Amanda. There were advantages that I gave her that I had concern over. She would want to do things I wasn’t sure was right. I would talk to her about it. She’d tell me she was ready. At that age, she thought she was. I trusted that. But why did I? What possibly could have gone on with her that she would be able to make such decisions. Some were all right in end, things were fine. Some were not. And I feel bad that I allowed her to make the decision on her own. I just don’t want to make that mistake with Katie and AJ. I tend to over think things, so feel free that if you think that, let me know.
    Is it as scary for you as me that we have so little control over this? It’s not our baby. We are limited in a sense of how much we can and cannot do. In your question of AJ and Katie being our kids, is Rory too, I think the answer is no, we are not Rory’s ‘parents’. We need to guide Katie and AJ into being the parents they are going to be. Like you said, we are the back up. I too find relief that Katie comes from such a good family with good values. We all want the same thing, for Katie and AJ and Rory to always be a family. But I realize that you and Loraine, and Jeri and I … we are not the majority. Most families end split up. I don’t want that for them. I can say, if it were to happen, I would want us all to still be close, to still be a family, as weird as that may be. It maybe a dream, but just like the Gilmore Girls… have you watched that show yourself or just Katie? Well, the Dad and Mom were still friends. Though I know AJ would have a much, much bigger role in Rory’s life than Christopher (TV Rory’s Dad). And if heaven forbid the kids do not stay together forever, I think one of the things that will help Rory have a happy childhood and stability from her parents is for all of us to talk about what we are thinking and feeling. As that pertaining to my custody questions, I just wanted to have things settled while the going is good. I worry that when there are issues that are not resolved as much as they can be, it may leave room for doubt, uncertainty and then lead to … I don’t know what. So like the professionals said to us, we are ahead of the game that we all have the relationship with each other that we do. We just have to keep on talking.
    I really do believe that you want AJ and Rory and Katie to be together as much as we do. That gives me relief that is beyond explaining. I try and focus on this all working greatly. I want you to know that there are a couple reasons that I am writing about this in my blog. One, I’d like to remember how everything was, two, if someone out there has advise, I’d be interested in hearing it, third, if someone out there needs advise and finds themselves in our situation, I would love that I could help them. Who knows… maybe that book will someday be written by me. Hey… ..could pay for Rory’s college. Wouldn’t that be awesome!
    So…did I make any sense here? I felt I was rambling a bit. Kids!!!! I wish there was a handbook, as for that…. LIFE!!!! I wish there was a handbook.. haha

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