It has been A. DAY.
Things started out with the babies' new CPS case worker - the one I haven't met yet - calling me to remind me about court today. (Internal dialogue, "duh...really...there's court today?") She then went on to tell me that I needed to be in the town where court was being held at 10:30 this morning because lo and behold, Grandma was down from across the state and they decided to schedule a visit.
This did not sit well with me. I decided to stand up for myself. I expressed displeasure about not being told sooner. I explained that I had a home visit scheduled this morning with my agency worker and that it would have been nice to have been told this last week. I was stern but tried to focus on the fact that I was not being treated with respect.
The new worker (let's call her Abby) got her panties in a bunch. She proceeded to try and throw around her weight. She told me that I'm just the foster parent and I should know that on a court day I am supposed to block off the whole day. From there it got quite ugly. She told me that Grandma is the parent and she's supposed to see the children.
I had to correct Abby! (Obviously this woman hadn't even opened up her files on this case yet. She kept whining to me that she had only had this case for 20 days. Personally, I don't give a rip. She still has an obligation to read up on the players in the story. Especially on a court day!) My response was, "No. Grandma is NOT a parent in this situation. Grandma is a relative who passed a home study. But Grandma has had nothing to do with these children. Grandma has only seen them twice in the last year. She flaked out at the last court hearing and didn't show. The children don't even know her!! How on earth was I to just assume she would come down today when no one told me to plan for a visit."
I went on to tell Abby that I fully understood what was going to happen in court today. I told her that I knew the State was going to ask for the grandma to get PMC (permanent managing conservatorship). I told her that I knew the children would leave my home and I was prepared for that. I then tried to swing things back to the issue that bothered me most – the fact that she didn't treat me with respect. That I should have been given more than 45 minutes notice of when I need to leave for what was now going to be an all day adventure.
Abby was quite uncomfortable with the idea of me standing up for myself. She abruptly ended the conversation and told me we'd talk in person. I made sure she knew that no matter how frustrated I was with her I was most certainly going to get the children to their appointment on time because that's the kind of foster parent I am.
So...we loaded up in the truck and we headed one hour west so the children could have their visit.
Before I left I called Rainbow and vented to her. I asked Rainbow to call Abby and let her know I'm not a bitch. Rainbow felt so bad for me. She kept saying that Abby wouldn't have said what she did if she knew me or if she had read the case files. She said that she didn't know Abby's number but she would send her an email.
I also called Abby's supervisor. I knew that at very moment in time this supervisor was picking Grandma up at the bus station. I left her a voice mail saying that I had just made a poor first impression with Abby. I was hoping she could smooth things over for me a bit.
I got to the CPS office at 10:20AM. The cherubs and I went back to the visitation room and waited for Grandma to arrive. Abby came around the corner and introduced herself. It didn't get much better. She tried to bait me into an argument just so she could tell me she didn't want to argue about things. I literally told her, "I don't want to fight with you either. Maybe we just shouldn't discuss this." Abby was trying to tell me how committed Grandma has been to the children. Really. She thinks Grandma has been invested in these children?! Oh my. She REALLY hasn't read the case files yet!!
This is a long post...sorry for all the rambling. But this is also how I personally keep track of the history of things. (Seeing how CPS can't bother to do their homework or keep their stories straight...I want a record.) I also do want to paint a realistic picture of what foster care looks like. And most of the time it isn't very pretty.
Grandma arrived. Pleasantries were made. I looked a Miss Supervisor and said, "What do you want to do about lunch?"
I got a deer in the headlight response. It never ceases to amaze me that all these professionals can't seem to wrap their brains around the idea that children need to eat lunch every day.
Finally it was decided that I would go purchase lunch for the cherubs and bring it back to the office.
I drove around for a bit. (It wasn't 11:00 yet and I wanted to bring the cherubs lunch...not breakfast.)
I tried really hard to not freak out.
I bought to McNugget Happy Meals and I drove back to CPS.
As I handed Dolly her meal she looked up at me with the biggest, happiest smile and said, "My grandma going to buy me swings!"
I left CPS with a pit in my stomach the size of a boulder. I met Mr. Amazing for lunch and tried to stay calm until just before 1:00 when I went back to CPS to pick the children up and drive them over to the courthouse.
The cherubs' maternal great grandma was there for court. The children simply adore her and I think she's pretty terrific too. From what I understand, she was their primary care giver prior to the cherubs coming in to Care. She just happens to be 73 years old and recognizes that she can't raise these babies to adulthood. Great Grandma likes the idea of the cherubs staying with us as opposed to going north with their paternal grandma. (She's not fond of Grandma at all!!!)
We sat down in the courtroom at about 1:15 and waited for things to start. The judge rolled into the room right around 2:15 or so. (Can you imagine how the cherubs were by then?!!)
The lawyer for the cherubs asked us to go out in the hall just seconds after the judge came in the courtroom. I think we got about 41.8 seconds of face time with her before they whispered out into the hallway that the judge was starting things. We were out there long enough for the lawyer to ask Dolly where she wanted to go and for Dolly to answer, "stay with Mommy".
Oh yeah yeah yeah -- back up to waiting in the courtroom -- Great Grandma was getting quite exasperated by waiting. She looked at me and asked, "What do you think is going to happen today?" I answered that I had no idea but if the cherubs told the lawyer they wanted to go to Dallas that is probably what would happen. Great Grandma grabbed Dude and Dolly and looked them square in the eye and said, "You tell that lawyer you want to stay with Mamma L***!" I fully believe if she hadn't done that the cherubs would have said they wanted to go north with Grandma. (All that talk of the things Grandma would buy them is quite enticing after all.) It was not my place to sway the cherubs but I certainly didn't stop Great Grandma from weighing in her opinion!
COURT ACTUALLY STARTED...
The State said they wanted the cherubs to go to Grandma and for Grandma to be granted PMC.
Mom's lawyer said that she couldn't "officially" weigh in on anything as she had not been in contact with her client. Mom is in prison right now. Not sure why the lawyer couldn't have talked to her prior to court. I find these court proceedings to be very disorganized!!
The childrens' lawyer / GAL (guardian ad litem) first addressed legal things. She accused the State of not providing her with several legal documents they were supposed to. Then she switched gears and, speaking as their guardian, said she was not in favor of the cherubs going to live with Grandma.
The back and forth that ensued was something else! I'll spare you the tennis match that I observed. When all was said and done, the State decided to take PMC of the children. The judge pretty much told them this was the only option and it would give them lots of time to push paperwork around until everyone could agree on a solution.
Visits were granted to the biological parents - after they get out of prison. Child support was established. The State asked if they could establish visits with the paternal grandma too. Because...they still want to drive the train to Grandma's house in the long run. The attorney/GAL nixed this though. Despite the fact they entered into court records that Dolly's therapist recommends extended pre-placement visits where Grandma lives...the GAL said no. She doesn't want them going up there. That idea just fizzled out.
The next court hearing is September 10. The cherubs are staying with us until then.
I seriously did not think it would turn out this way! Even though every party involved seems to think moving the cherubs to Grandma's is a bad idea, there was no legal reason that I could see - or that anyone could present - that would keep them from going. But somehow, they managed to stay this case again. This is how children end up languishing in foster care for years. It is all shades of wrong.
But I guess I'm grateful. As long as they keep running in circles there is a chance these cherubs could stay with us. I'm coming down off the stresses of court today. It's hard for me to say I'm happy. Because in my opinion any time a child spends in foster care without progress moving towards an ending seems quite wrong to me. But I'm not in control of this situation. So I'm going to sit back and try to enjoy the next four months.
One perfectly horrible thing was said in court today... The lawyer for CPS thought it necessary to tell the judge she thinks the foster parents are too attached to Dude and Dolly. This lawyer has never made eye contact with me. This lawyer doesn't know me from Adam. I was flabbergasted that a professional would even think that way knowing what I know about attachment disorders. I'm doing everything in my power to give these kids a loving home full of experiences so that they WON'T have attachment issues. But...I'm too attached?!
Thankfully that comment floated away in the wind and no one paid a lick of attention to it.
I'm going to let the dust settle. I'm not going to call the lawyer. I'm not going to call the worker. I'm just going to wait for them to come to me. Nothing is going to happen until September anyway. I might as well try to enjoy myself until then.