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Tomorrow we find out the fate of our family for the next few years, at least. The girls have a hearing in front of a judge tomorrow, and on the agenda is for them to ask (or not ask) for PLC.

“PLC” stands for “Permanent Legal Custody”, which is neither permanent nor full custody. It means that instead of going through an agency to provide their care, we’re solely responsible ourselves.  This has many benefits; We can choose their doctors, therapists, schools, sign off for medical procedures and move. We don’t have to put up with DHS and agency workers needing to access our home or coordinating with us multiple times per week. We can set incentives and do discipline in a way that makes sense to us without sending pages long emails whenever something happens. However, unlike adoption, the girls’ parents are still legally considered their parents. Their rights have not been terminated, and if things straighten out with them the girls can go live with them again with a minimum of legal headache. However, if things don’t work out there, the stipend continues until they are 21, which gives us the financial support needed to help them get their adult lives started.

To be honest, we have mixed feelings about this. We love these girls, and they are nice to have around much of the time. But they are undeniably a lot of work and take up a lot of emotional and physical resources. There are some issues that sometimes make life in our house incredibly stressful, and those issues won’t go away with permanency. There are reasons these girls have gotten to mid-late teens and still in the system. There’s a lot of emotional trauma to address, and problems to work through. Being foster parents on top of biological parents, an employee and a student has taken a toll on our relationship as well.

But when you care so much about a young person, you love them and see their potential, you want to help. Without PLC, Jill will be cut loose from “The System” in January when she turns 18. She will have to rely on family help and public assistance, and will probably not get all of the supports that she needs in order to live up to her potential. She has a lot of potential. She’s one of the most intelligent young people I’ve ever met, but she has not had the advantage of museum visits, music lessons or academic support. Grace is one of the most emotionally intelligent people I’ve ever met with a near psychic ability to pick up on the moods of the people around her. She loves working with children, and wants to get into Early Childhood Education.

It’s that fantasy that keeps us slogging down this path and working through the issues as we encounter them. I want to see Jill finish High School and get a job somewhere that expands her horizons. I want to see her around good people who won’t disappoint or hurt her. I want to see her get into music lessons. I want her to make friends, friends who will support her and encourage her to grow into her curiosity and passions. I want to see Grace learn how to control her anger long enough to make friends with the “nerdy people” that she really wants to hang out with. She has expressed a desire to become a good student, and I think in a different environment she would have learned those skills already. I want to see her get her ECE certs and use her immense capacity to love and be compassionate to nurture and care for little ones. She has an incredible affinity with animals as well, and as soon as she turns 16 she wants to start volunteering with the SPCA.

It’s hard to hang on to that fantasy when Grace is cussing us out or Jill is storming upstairs slamming the door. I know that my fantasy has a statistically high chance of not being fulfilled.

But it’s worth a shot… right?

We’ll find out tomorrow if the girls themselves and the courts think it is worth the effort.

Then we’re off to New Hampshire for wedding and camping!