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  #1  
Old 05-12-2014, 09:03 PM
skeeter801 skeeter801 is offline
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Default Advice needed-adoptive family starting on the right foot

DISCLAIMER: I know nearly nothing about the prison system, after only being arrested briefly for a protest. I'm a young professional hospitality industry executive, my wife is a Ph.D. We have known the grip of poverty, family disowning us, the ugliness of family divorce, and many other down's of life. Luckily for us, there are many more up's that keep us focused on the future, and we are thankful for our good karma, and people who love us, unconditionally.

My wife and I are considering taking in a 21 year old who we have known for nearly 8 years, to allow her to re-start again. She's a brilliant young woman, who we both have treated as our adopted daughter. When things got rough with her family, she moved in with us for about a year. We helped her with budgets, planning, resume's, job's etc. Empowering and developing is what I do professionally, She had up's and down's and eventually moved away, only to be caught back in the spiral of drugs, violence, and alcohol about a year later.

She's a strong, bright young lady who just got into some trouble, made many bad decisions that led down a path to spending 2.5 years in jail. She may parole in October and I believe has done some great healing based on her letters and her overall energy (visited her once while I was in NE, as I live in MA now). According to her, she wants to restart, in a new, removed area, away from her past. She knows that her proximity to her past will suck her back into places she's done and over with. Although she'd love to restart with her family, that too is part of the downward spiral. We are on the East Coast, removed from that environment and a good location for her to restart.

We want to support her continued growth, but also want her to know that it's not a free ride. We are clear about boundaries, expectations, but still giving her some freedom to be a human. Helping with rent/groceries/housework is all part of that deal. According to her, she wants structured stability.

That's the background. Now for the questions:

What should we know to better support her?
What help can we give for finding job's for those that have been in jail?
What services are in Mass/Boston for parolee's/Releases who had to learn a few lessons the hard way?
Is anyone familiar with programs in MA/Boston that develop young minds once out of jail?
Those are the root questions. Many more I'm sure....

Again, my thanks for helping shed some light on this subject, so we can make the best decisions for her, and us.
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Old 05-12-2014, 10:20 PM
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Has she been working programs while she's in? It's lovely to think that changing environment will fix an addiction, but the environment that needs to change is internal. And that only happens with a lot of work.

Other than that, how exactly can you legally insulate yourselves from any problems? I'd consult with an attorney for some advice on the situation. If she makes it through, all is fine and it's a waste of money. If she spirals and gets back into a drug scene (and there is a drug scene anywhere you go), so many ugly things can ensue.

Lastly, read about Post-Incarceration issues, so you'll know what to expect in a range of behaviors.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:01 AM
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Just offering advice from personal experience. Set a time limit for her. I tried twice with the same young man. I should have set more limits, time especially. You sound as though you are approaching this with no false illusions. MA unemployment rates are pretty low. Our unemployment offices will give her all sorts of help. You don't have to be collecting benefits to use their services.
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  #4  
Old 05-13-2014, 07:05 AM
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Default good feedback...

Hello, and thank you.
Yes, she's working on several programs now, being 'paid' for her work. She also is just now finishing her HS diploma (not GED), which she was completely against prior to entering prison.

I couldn't agree more, it must be from within. I believe this change(s) have continued to take place while she was in jail. Her letters show a drastic improvement, not just hyperbole, but actual thought pattern change. I believe it's a good place, which is why we're highly considering her move here. If it weren't for that justification, I'd turn down the idea and choose to love and support her at a distance.

You raise a good point from legalities. Sadly, I don't think there's a way. It's a gamble we're willing to take. We don't make these decisions lightly (hence why we're doing so much homework now). Do you know if she makes parole if WE need to pay anything, or is our contribution a safe place, healthy food, love and support, or do we need to pay anything to the prison as a 'foster family' for lack of better term?

Thanks for the advice on Post-Incarceration issues. Will do.






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Originally Posted by nimuay View Post
Has she been working programs while she's in? It's lovely to think that changing environment will fix an addiction, but the environment that needs to change is internal. And that only happens with a lot of work.

Other than that, how exactly can you legally insulate yourselves from any problems? I'd consult with an attorney for some advice on the situation. If she makes it through, all is fine and it's a waste of money. If she spirals and gets back into a drug scene (and there is a drug scene anywhere you go), so many ugly things can ensue.

Lastly, read about Post-Incarceration issues, so you'll know what to expect in a range of behaviors.
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Old 05-13-2014, 07:16 AM
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Hello, thanks for responding.

Thank you, this is good advice. We talked about time limits such as
1) finding a job
2) holding a job
3) contributing to family cost (rent and/or food)
4) budget planning to begin saving
5) saving amounts based on salary

I also know that these aren't obtained without the proper tools, support or skills, but believe she'll be walking onto the battle field well prepared.

What other limits do you speak of? I'd love to learn more from your learning points. Can you share some examples? How old was the young man?

You used 'OUR'...are you a resident of MA? If so, what resources have you found to be most helpful? I didn't know that unemployment offices can assist if not receiving benefits, thank you! Do they have working programs for past inmates?

Many thanks,


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Originally Posted by shs76 View Post
Just offering advice from personal experience. Set a time limit for her. I tried twice with the same young man. I should have set more limits, time especially. You sound as though you are approaching this with no false illusions. MA unemployment rates are pretty low. Our unemployment offices will give her all sorts of help. You don't have to be collecting benefits to use their services.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:28 AM
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You might think about encouraging her to continue her schooling . . . not always easy with a record, but definitely do-able.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:40 AM
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Very true. We believe school is a good option, whether it's traditional, trade, or simply skill building in things you love. Education to us, is much more than attending school. I'm sure you're right though, school with a background can make things more difficult. Thanks!


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You might think about encouraging her to continue her schooling . . . not always easy with a record, but definitely do-able.
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Old 05-13-2014, 12:53 PM
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I would really suggest some individual therapy, with the option of involving you and your wife as needed for family therapy. This is a huge transition for all of you and some support would be essential.

The best source for social service programs that I know is 211. It is available in every state--you can google it or simply dial 211 on a land line. Trained staff will help you to locate the resources you need. Here is the link for MA.

I would suggest drawing up a behavioral contract prior to her coming. This should include what you need from her--drug-free, NA/AA, curfew, services involved, work & school, etc. as well as what she can expect from you--food, housing, attend treatment sessions as necessary, etc. It may also outline a structure for review of the plan...once per month we will have a family meeting to address progress, goal completion, conflicts and challenges as well as celebrate successes. If there is a problem between anyone they will agree to make time to dialog/communicate, work to its resolution...if things become really difficult you will look at respite as an option, escalating therapy...etc.

The contract can help you all identify what your worries are, anticipate them and plan for them. This often helps in preventing them from becoming a huge problem.

I would also suggest that you all sit down with her family. They should understand what you are doing and she needs to know what confidentiality she will have. Are you going to tell them how things are going? Or, are you putting any communication about her to her family on her? If you plan on staying quiet, it is good for everyone to know. It may help her to feel more trust, and may eliminate some issues with her family and you. Whatever it is that you decide, it is important that you honor it. Do not commit to any more than you can and are willing to do.

Taking in someone else is always a challenge. In this case probably more so. She will want adult treatment, as is her right, but you may have legitimate struggles with this as her decision-making has been flawed.

I wish you all the very best!!
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:19 PM
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Peer based mental health services. Check for groups for ex offenders. http://www.metrobostonrlc.org/

Check online for AA and narc-anon, and get her schedules. Get yourselves into Al anon -support for LO of addicts and alcoholics.

Housing in MA has programs for those who are ex offends, so check local housing offices.

I'd limit access to your financials, ability to use credit cards, write checks, etc. I'd get her set up with a basic account at a bank so she can get some experience managing here own money.

I'd put time limits on getting a job, or number of applications/interviews. I'd want an open policy with her PO so you can know her parole conditions and when there's a problem like a hot UA.

I'd help her put together a budget taht includes paying off fines and restitution, and help her stay above board with that - not skipping an entire payment if she's short, seeking modification, worki towards paying off early.

You need to know what her goals are, not just her liabilities. Figure out what she wants to do with her life, and if it's within her abilities, help her figure out how she can get there. MA is a great area for schooling, from Job Corps style schooling through to MIT - the options are there, so it's just a matter of helping her figure out her goals and devising a plan for achieving them. Both long term and short term goals should be addressed, especially within the confines of her parole conditions.

You won't be liable for financials for her. You aren't related. You may want to talk with your lawyer about putting together a lease for her to sign - once she lives with you, you can't just kick her out if she does something you don't like. MA landlord tenant law kicks in, and really, it does help to formalize expectations on both ends. Also, know about the eviction process, both the normal process, and the expedited drug process.

You may also have an obligation to let parole know if she's no longer living with you, should she skip out, move in with a boyfriend, or whatnot. Find out what they consider living at your address and make sure you stay well away from fraud by vouching for somebody who really isn't living with you.

If there are mental health issues, then you'll want to contact your local chapter of NAMI as they will be able to help guide you through that particular morass. Further, a lot of the parents and LO there will have people involved in various aspect of the criminal justice system. Those people can be invaluable resources.

Keep your finances separate. Get a lease together. Know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. Those would be the minimum.
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Old 05-13-2014, 07:54 PM
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This is all great advice, my kid is not adopted but I am going to need all of these tools when he comes home, thanks everyone.
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Old 07-29-2014, 06:27 AM
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"My wife and I are considering taking in a 21 year old who we have known for nearly 8 years, to allow her to re-start again. She's a brilliant young woman, who we both have treated as our adopted daughter. When things got rough with her family, she moved in with us for about a year. We helped her with budgets, planning, resume's, job's etc. Empowering and developing is what I do professionally, She had up's and down's and eventually moved away, only to be caught back in the spiral of drugs, violence, and alcohol about a year later."

Others have given a lot of good advice and practcal tips already.
I'm very doubtful that you both are the right people for the job at hand or that she's matured enough to make it within your environment.
There are a proportion of bright inmates who have quite a bit going for them, yet it's far more of a worry that such give in to vices so readily. These are often the ones who thrive in the prison setting due to it's strong structure, programs etc..They often don't take long to fall again without it. You two are too personally involved, never suceeded with her before, so doubtful you'd really be conducive to her sustaining what's needed. I think you both ought to see therapists to explore what your deepest motives and needs are in relation to having this girl with you. Being heroes or perchance are you somewhat attracted to this young woman??
Leave her and prison staff, relevant agencies to find her future residence, programs and supports. Let her know you are prepared to remain in touch via phone and letters. If she keeps up such contact to share her life not requests for money etc., you may even manage visiting.
It's better and easier for her to get set up wherever she is regionally now. It will involve more of her decisions and keep her in the position of facing that she is an adult who needs to rely on her strengths to have a life on the outside.She's had any positive stategies shown to her by you before so would know what times your advice would be useful to seek.
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Old 07-29-2014, 06:29 PM
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Hello and thank you ALL for your wisdom.

We are happy to report that our friend will be staying in her familiar territory, and hopefully will be fully supported by her family (fingers crossed). Should she still need guidance, we'll do so from a distance, but are happy to support her decision!

Many thanks to everyone for their advice and comments, it was very helpful. Your insight gave us tools to rely on when moving this decision forward, which were invaluable.

I will be unsubscribing to this thread, however I'm sure others will benefit from it in the future.

Again, thank you and positive wishes!
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