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Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly

Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly
In Memory of my Loving Husband, William F. Knightly Jr. Murdered by ILLEGAL Palliative Care at a Nashua, NH Hospital

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Foster Parents vs NH DCYF

From Expert Law Forum-Help with your Legal questions

Join Date: May 2009

Foster Parents vs DCYF
My question involves child abuse/neglect/guardianship questions in the State of: NH

*** I know that there are hundreds of requests for help in these forums and it is only by the member's generosity of time, that the questions can be answered. I know that the idea is to be as brief as possible, but the complexity of my problem over the past 7 years has grown enormous. If those inclined to help out do not wish to read such a lengthy summary, PLEASE JUST SKIP to my questions at the end and ask further questions of me as needed - I don't mind re-answering anything already described below. ***

Over the past 16 years, as a specialized/therapeutic foster home,my husband and I have adopted five boys (9,10,13,19,21) through the foster care system, most with significant special needs that had been unsuccessful in multiple prior placements (Bipolar, Autism, Epilepsy, feeding tube, mental retardation).

In addition, we have a foster child who I will call "Jay" (13), who has been living with us full time for 7 years, with a couple of exceptions. He has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, PTSD, and has learning disabilities and an auditory processing disorder). As with all of our children (when still in foster care), we have been actively involved in all aspects of Jay's care and life.

When we got Jay at 6 years old, he had already been in ten foster homes over a period of about 2 years. He was horribly abused and had tremendous behavior difficulties. As is often the case with DCYF, we received few details at the outset, and over the next several months, he destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property, had aggressive and sexualized behaviors, psychotic symptoms; hearing voices, playing with fire, lying, stealing etc - you get the picture). However, through all of this, we kept Jay, for which DCYF was enormously grateful.

Over the years, Jay has improved in many areas, but still requires constant 1:1 supervision, due to impulsivity, hearing voices telling him to hurt people at times, poor decision making leading to safety issues and very poor social skills and peer interaction. We have remained committed to Jay through all of this.
As a side note: parental rights have been terminated.

The problem is as follows: DCYF feels Jay should have the opportunity to be adopted by a family, and if we don't agree to be that family, they want to look elsewhere. We want Jay to remain with us, with some part time weekend residential/therapeutic component as recommended by his mental health providers. Jay has stated his preference to never be moved anywhere, even if we can't adopt him, as he considers us his only real family. The only reason we have not yet adopted Jay is that due to his extreme needs, and uncertain mental health status in the future, we fear losing all the services currently available to him as a foster child. DCYF has refused to consider keeping these services in place after adoption, although they have the ability to approve them.

This case is unusual in that upon our request, the probate judge has made us "parties to the case", which gives us many rights not typically afforded to foster parents. In addition, due to DCYF's refusal to follow court orders, we hired an attorney and filed contempt charges against them, which were eventually dropped in exchange for an out of court agreement, signed as a court order, that markedly limits the DCYF's ability to make unilateral decisions about Jay's care, treatment or placement.

Despite this, DCYF continues to directly violate the terms of the court agreement, making unilateral decisions and acting out of spite, rather than doing what the court approved "team" has recommended. None of the "team" agrees with DCYF; not his long term psychiatrist and psychologist; not his CASA/GAL and most importantly, not the court, which has ruled against DCYF multiple times in their quest to have Jay moved to another home who might be willing to adopt him. It should also be noted that DCYF has in the past, placed him on the National Adopt USA website with no response for for 15 + months.

With DCYF's continued lack of regard for the law or court orders, I am again in the position of having to seek an attorney's help to file new contempt charges to stop DCYF from trying to remove him from our home if we don't agree to keep him full time under their conditions. Although I may be able to somehow come up with enough money for one more round, I can't continue to do this on a long term basis, which is possible given DCYF's past actions.

The reason this has been so lengthy is that I would like to ask those in the legal forums with so much expertise, to suggest possible solutions to this problem - some new, fresh ideas to this untenable situation.

We have considered asking for guardianship, but as there is no subsidized guardianship available in NH, this is not an option. Co-guardianship would
work but requires the consent of both parties and DCYF has flatly refused to consider this. Does anyone know of some way around this such as some type of partial guardianship or limited guardianship; could we try to get guardianship over medical/psychiatric treatment, or placement or ???. Could we ask the court to limit the duties of DCYF in terms of their guardianship over Jay. Are there any guardianship loopholes, avenues to

What about some type of power of attorney over some part of Jay's care/treatment that would in turn limit DCYF's power?

Were we to adopt Jay, would it be within the power of the probate court (or higher court) to order that, in addition to the normal subsidy, services such as transportation, respite, unusual costs (ie destruction, acute care services in times of crisis) and therapeutic summer programming (over what the school provides) must be kept in place?

My attorney thus far, has not been able to come up with anything else, and has spent most of her time focusing on the court agreement/DCYF contempt and putting out fires/objecting to DCYF motions to remove team members that don't agree with them and most recently, DCYF's motion to vacate the court agreement.

I have spent hours and hours researching the law to the best of my ability as a lay person, but have not found anything specific enough to pursue as an alternative. I suppose my last ditch effort would be to go public with the case, within the limits of confidentiality requirements. Perhaps public outrage would spur on closer scrutiny of DCYF's actions and their total disregard for the law.

Any help or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. PLEASE!

Thank you,a NH foster parent

06-01-2009, 07:02 PM
Mr. Knowitall
Senior Member

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: California
Posts: 38,603
Re: Foster Parents vs DCYF
It sounds like you've had an effective lawyer working for you, and that you have an unusually complicated case history and situation. The short question appears to be, is there a way to get the benefits and support of a foster parent when adopting, or when taking custody by some other means; the short answer is "not that I'm aware of." A lawyer could spend a lot of hours chasing possibilities, most of which will turn out to be dead ends or things you already know.

I really do wish that I had a brilliant idea that would get you out of this mess.

06-01-2009, 08:19 PM

Junior Member

Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 3
Re: Foster Parents vs DCYF
Thank you for taking the time to read the post and for your answer, although
I really do wish you had a "brilliant idea" that would get me out of this

I guess I'll keep on plugging away, even if I have to do it without an attorney
the next time, while foolishly hoping that in the future, DCYF will actually do what "is in the best interests of the child" and act with integrity instead of

Thanks again for your reply.

A foster parent

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