PMC Unpacked – Inside Arms Wide

PMC and Post Permanency: What is it?

Our Post Permanency Program is for families who have PMC of a child: Permanent Managing Conservatorship. A Permanent Managing Conservator of a child is a person who has been given legal custody of the child, but the birth parent rights may not have been terminated.

How is this different from Adoption? Foster Care?

  • In order for a child to be eligible for adoption, the court must have terminated birth parents rights. Adoption calls for a severed relationship with the birth family, legally.
  • Foster children are in homes which are not necessarily permanent. Foster children are also technically in the custody of the state.
  • Permanent Managing Conservators are, the majority of the time, kinship (extended family members). Other adults in the child’s life may also provide an appropriate home. In PMC families, the court shifts custody of the child from the state to the PMC guardian(s). 

How involved are the birth parents with the PMC family?

The rights and relationship between the birth parents and a PMC child differs on a case by case basis. For example, if the birth parents rights are not terminated, the PMC legal document can….
  • Require a birth parent pays child support to the PMC guardian.
  • Specify visitation rights (i.e. how often, where, for how long, under what circumstances).

Ultimately, contact with the birth parents is up to the discretion of the PMC. That is, the birth parent could be extremely present in the child’s life if the PMC allows for it.

What obstacles and dynamics do PMC families face different from Post Adoption families?

One of the biggest challenges in adjustment and development our PMC children face is navigating the complex shifting of bonds with family members. In the beginning, a child will have to change their understanding of who their ‘parent’ is. For example, if the PMC is a grandparent the child had a connection with before, seeing them as their primary parental figure is brand new. Solidifying this attachment can be more difficult if the child is still seeing their birth parents regularly.
This continued (and sometimes inconsistent) element of birth parent involvement can add a new layer of obstacles. This is especially the case if the parent persists with the disruptive behaviors which initially called for the child’s removal from their custody. Children often act out, or regress to old behavioral issues, after a visit with their birth parents.
With adoption, part of healthy development and attachment to the family unit might be exploring what it means to be adopted. However, the unique family systems and dynamics of Permanent Managing Conservatorships are hard to understand. Because of this, a child may have a hard time rooting themselves in their new family.

What Can We Do?

These are only some aspects which could make healthy growth and behavior in a PMC family challenging. This is where the Post Permanency Program offered by Arms Wide Adoption Services can be crucial (and life changing)! PMC homes have the potential to be a positive shift for the children in them. They can retain a sense of stability as a child who does not have to make familial connections from scratch. Support services are a key part of this adjustment, and we encourage all PMC families to take advantage of Post Permanency services when available. These services include no-fee case management, resource connections, counseling, support groups, respite care, and 24-hour crisis intervention. Please visit our Permanency Support Services page for more information.