Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I don't want to puke

After playing phone tag, Dude and Dolly's lawyer finally reached me yesterday. Honestly, it was a very bizarre phone call. She really didn't say much. For the most part, I don't think she realized why I wanted to know or even cared about what happened in court. So often I think these kids become little more than case numbers and manila envelopes to the professionals involved. And very few want to accept that this is MY life they are messing with too. Even if the case is working perfectly towards reunification, MY life is greatly affected by what goes on in court.

When I get completely freaked out or stressed, I often feel quite sick to my stomach. All I can say is that when I hung up the phone with the lawyer, I didn't want to puke. I guess that's a good thing.

The children didn't go to Grandma's in D**** simply because CPS has neglected to properly process all the necessary paperwork concerning the bio dad. I believe he has to be "served" and that hasn't happened yet. At one point in time they were supposed to do a paternity test as well. I'm not sure what ever happened with that.

All the lawyer told me was that there were procedural problems. It is because of these procedural issues she can't legally make the transfer to Grandma yet.

Key word there = yet.

The lawyer went on to babble a bunch of nothing. I tried to press her for what would happen next. What options she thought she had. Her main response was, "CPS has their hand on the wheel. They are driving this. They want to proceed with sending the children to Grandma."

The lawyer said again that she's not in favor of the children going to Grandma. It just doesn't sit right with her. She said she mentioned the lack of relationship to the judge. His response was along the lines of, "I don't know why The Department would want to send these kids to a stranger. But if that's what they want to do...oh well."

The lawyer obviously wanted to wrap up the phone call. I pressed her a bit and asked if it would be possible for us (the foster parents) to be considered for PMC (permanent managing conservatorship).  She didn't want to discuss this. It was apparent. First she said that foster parents don't do this kind of thing. I said that I've done my research and that due to the amount of time we've known these children and the role that we've played in their lives, that I thought we could. The lawyer, quickly, said something about us needing to get our own counsel. Honestly though, she didn't say much. She didn't say, "yes, you can do this." But...then again...she didn't say, "no, this isn't an option."

Instead she went back to the mantra that CPS is driving this. It's all up to them.

I've got a couple reactions to this. First, I'm surprised she puts that much weight on CPS. There's no formal written hierarchy. But from my experience it goes like this from the top down:
1. judge
2. doctors
3. lawyers
4. CPS supervisors
5. CPS case workers / foster parents
And honestly, there shouldn't be a #5 in front of the last one because really, we (both the case workers and the foster parents) have NO say in anything when it comes to the courts.

But...the lawyer didn't completely shoot me out of the water.

Now it gets tricky. I know what I think is best for the children. It seems that the lawyer agrees with me. And I've even heard CPS agree with me on more than one occasion. But the train is still rolling on towards Grandma's house. I'm not sure what can be done to change its direction.

The lawyer, probably in an attempt to get me off the phone, said that she would talk with the CPS supervisor over this case. Honestly, I doubt she's going to do it for real. I certainly doubt that she's going to do it right away.

I figure it's up to me now to make sure CPS understands the full picture. Somehow I've got to help them see beyond the narrow path of Grandma being the only solution here. If they could consider us for PMC, or even adoption, it would change everything. The lawyer said again that the children are not going to go to their parent(s). That's not an option at all.

I have to play my cards right. I can't go in telling CPS what to do. That will never work. But somehow they've got to see that there are other options. That legally we could be considered. That leaving the children in a safe, loving environment would be best for them. I'm not sure how I'm going to convince CPS of this. least I don't feel like puking when I think about it.

Hopefully their worker will come see us before the month is over. She's supposed to make a monthly visit and so far she hasn't missed yet. I don't want to say anything over the phone really. I'm pretty sure our next conversation has to be in person if I want it to be successful.

I'm certainly not getting my hopes up. I do know how The System works. But I still have a peace about all of this. I don't want to puke. So I'll keep on fighting the good fight.


MamaFoster said...

interesting. i am not thrilled with the lawyer...but she could have been worse. it would be very interesting to have your own lawyer.

The Author said...

I wonder if having your own lawyer might shake things up a bit, maybe they will finally get the hint that you are serious about PMC or adopting your little ones.

Sunday Taylor said...

OMGoodness! "But if that's what they want to do...oh well." I wish is was surprised, I am not. It is just disappointing to see a quote like that attributed to a judge involved in a foster care case.

Carrie said...

Do you have any contact with grandma? Any notion for whether she cares if she gets the kids or not?

Mama P said...

I think your own lawyer is a stellar idea. Our lawyer for Bones waived our consultation fee for us, and even though there was nothing we could do, having her counsel was amazingly comforting. Call around to lawyers specializing in custody/family matters, and at least ask! You never know!

CherubMamma said...

The worst part about the whole conversation was the lawyer trying to explain why she's not pushing for termination. She said that she spoke with the kids and they said they want to go to Grandma's house.

OF COURSE THAT'S WHAT THEY SAID! I haven't given them words for any other options. They don't know there's the option of staying with me. Or of being adopted. If I gave them options of things that aren't really options, I would just be setting them up for more hurt.

@Carrie - we have no contact with Grandma. That's my whole problem. She hasn't communicated with the children since they came in to care. Honestly, I don't think she wants them. CPS says she does though. On paper, she's doing what she's supposed to. But in reality, there is no relationship at all. The kids don't know her.

I'm getting a little more curious about the idea of securing our own lawyer. I am going to talk with CPS first. But I'm not opposed to the idea. I only want what is best for these two children. I'm not convinced going to live with strangers is in their best interests.

Brownie said...

Hi - I know I'm jumping in a little late here. I'll have to read more of your blog to get the whole story. I'm wondering what state you're in. Do the children have a guardian ad litem - CASA? I know in MN any child in foster care has one assigned. I was one for 8 years. They're to advocate for the best interests of the child, attend court and can address the judge directly without going through an attorney.

I know generally that a blood relative "trumps" foster parents - but having a significant relationship should count.

Brownie said...

oh sorry... I just read back in some comments and I see you have this information and more. You're getting good advice :)

CherubMamma said...

@Brownie - Hi! I'm in DEEP South Texas. Not every kid gets a CASA down here. Finances just don't allow. Dude and Dolly have one legal professional acting as both their lawyer and guardian ad litem. They weren't assigned a CASA.


I'm getting really anxious now to talk to their CPS worker. I need to know her initial reaction before I go getting our own lawyer. It sure is looking like that might be the best route for these kids though.