When parental rights are terminated the family that existed is forever destroyed. In Texas, this designation is FINAL with no path back to restoration or reinstatement of any of those rights no matter what the circumstances are in the future for the parents or the children. However, there are at least 17 other states that recognize that although this outcome is often what is best for children at the time, such as freeing a child for adoption, there needs to be a path to restoration when certain specific circumstances exist. And it should also be acknowledged that terminating parental rights does not in and of itself offer a guaranteed permanent situation for a growing number of children stuck with the State under a form of “purgatory” known as PMC or Permanent Managing Conservatorship. These kids are growing up in Foster Care Systems that have been ruled Unconstitutional in several states with multiple reports and studies showcasing the miserable outcomes that foster care produces: homelessness, substance abuse, mental health issues, prostitution, trafficking, unwanted pregnancies, STDs, criminality, domestic violence, unemployment, and high school dropouts. Why would a State not want to revisit a parental situation, even years later, if a child is still languishing in Foster Care that produces such dismal results?
Multiple states have recognized that all too often parents do not have the ability for a variety of reasons, including a very rigid and short timeline, to get their own lives together enough to meet the requirements for Family Reunification. These States often have inadequate budgetary expenditures on concrete services related to things like poverty or substance abuse that are driving up the removals of children from their families. Multiple states have established a legal means to either find the parents of children in foster care after a set time period if these children have not been adopted yet and reevaluate the parents circumstances, skills, and ability to provide a safe environment. Other states allow the parents themselves to offer evidence for legal petition to revisit whether they are ready to reunify. Still other states offer BOTH means to either restore or reinstate parental rights after termination. Offering this as another means to permanency when none has been found has succeeded in safely moving children back to their homes, thus interrupting the cycle of hopelessness they might be experiencing in foster care while awaiting “permanency.” Providing this as a choice for those cases that would qualify has been successful in multiple states and just makes sense for Texas and any state that hasn’t found the mechanism to try it.