My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Washington
I am 22 years old going on 23, I am almost 15 years older than my younger half brother, who is turning 8 next month. I'd like to inquire as to the possibility of taking custody of him from my mother.
My case is this: I am a mature, responsible adult (no children, and not married) with a steady income. I've only lived with my mother especially recently for the sole purpose of taking care of my brother for the fear that if I leave, he will be neglected to a certain degree.
My mother is a single mom (she is married to his father, but he is currently in prison and will not be released for another 4-5 years), who can't take care him alone. She's on disability/social security earning roughly $10,000 a year.
She is morbidly obese to the point that it is not unusual for her to remain in her bed for days at a time, and she has developed several medical conditions stemming from her obesity including Type 2 Diabetes. Not only is she suffering from diabetes, but her condition is expected to worsen because she is irresponsible about her diet, and as I've mentioned her activity is very limited. She's also very messy to the point where it's not rare to discover molding dishes by her bedside.
For the most part, I try to stay out of raising her child until it gets so severe that I feel it necessary to step in. Though he's neglected, I am not sure if the conditions are so severe that he could be taken away from her. My brother, is an underweight but healthy boy. He gets to school everyday. He does eat at a normal frequency, but his meals generally consist of microwave dinners, yogurt, cereal, or the occasional bowl of ice cream for dinner, out of sheer laziness from his mother. The only well-balanced meals he eats are cooked by myself.
She doesn't bathe him regularly (or at all). Recently I waited and witnessed him going 2 weeks without having been bathed before I stepped in and made him get into the tub.
In her condition, it's not possible for her to promote any physical activity with him; in his life, I'm the only person that's taken him out to the pool, beach, zoo, or wherever, for him to play and enjoy himself. I'm the one involved with his school, I volunteer for school activities, and chaperoning. Being involved with his school, I was informed by his teacher that he was 4 months behind on his homework, so I have taken on the responsibility of ensuring his homework gets completed every night. I personally taught him how to shower. I do the grocery shopping for the family because it's rare she will willingly leave the house.
For me, personally, it's gotten to the point where I find it intolerable to live with her, but as I've mentioned before I fear if I leave my brother will not be raised adequately or properly.
My question is this: is what I have explained enough to constitute taking custody of him? I understand the conditions in which I described wouldn't be sufficient for CPS to take him away from her, but I believe I could give him a better life.
He's always shared a bedroom with her, never had his own bed, and with my income, I would have the means to provide him with his own. He's never been to the dentist, and if I were his guardian, I could put him on my insurance where he would be able to visit the dentist and get his teeth cleaned/cavities filled/whatever needed.
I've tried to convince her to take care of him independently because, as I've mentioned before, I do want to move out but cannot do so with the weight of him not being cared for properly on my conscience. I've expressed to her if she couldn't take care of a child, she shouldn't have had one, and her response is "it's too late now." Though she has said this, I do not believe she will give him up willingly.
Understand my brother does love our mother, and though I do want full custody of him, I do want him to maintain a relationship with her and see her often, if possible. I do not plan to keep him from her, and eventually if she is able to exhibit changed behaviors and the ability to care for herself, then I would be happy to perhaps let him live with her again.
I believe if I were his father, I would have earned the right to take custody of him by now, but being his sibling I'm not sure if I have a case legally and am unsure of where to start if I do.
I'm sorry this was so long. I understand I am told to omit unnecessary details, but I felt that every detail should be taken into consideration.