I've sat in enough court hearings now to know that the CPS judge in our county wants the professionals involved to come to him with a PLAN. And yet, I sat in another hearing this morning where all the professionals were hardly prepared and no one had a "plan".
Pumpkin and I arrived just before the hearing. CPS sent me to the wrong building first so I wasn't particularly early. I still managed to get there before both lawyers for Pumpkin arrived. And no, neither one of them bothered to make contact prior to these few minutes before our case was called.
Pumpkin's lawyer was first. We had to go over again that Pumpkin is non-verbal. Because Pumpkin cannot speak about her own wants, this lawyer can do little in court other than argue specific legal issues. She takes a back seat to Pumpkin's guardian ad litem.
NOTE: Pumpkin's lawyer is/was also the lawyer for Dude & Dolly. She talked to me just a bit about Pumpkin and then switched things over to discussing her leaving the babies' case. I told her what Miss Supervisor did the other day. She was just as disgusted as I am! Unfortunately, there is nothing she can do about it. She offered to "talk to somebody" - but I knew it was an empty promise so I said it's not necessary. Bluebell (Pumpkin's CPS worker) thinks I should report Miss Supervisor. I'm not sure that's a good idea either. I think that would be a good way to get the babies pulled from my home sooner and placed with another foster family instead.
Anyway -- back to Pumpkin and court...
Pumpkin's guardian came to talk to me second. I told her things are still the same as always. Then, because I've had the conversation in my head about a million times and I know what I say has to be short and to the point, I told the guardian this: "If the removal in September was valid because Pumpkin's mom abused her again...what has changed since then?!" The guardian agreed and went to go talk to the other professionals. Court was called quickly.
The first thing the judge did was ask why we were all there. The person speaking for CPS was someone I didn't recognize. Bluebell was there but she didn't speak to the judge directly. It was not a smooth, coordinated effort for sure.
CPS stated that they wanted the State to maintain guardianship of Pumpkin. But, they wanted Pumpkin to go home. They said they would "help with the transition".
Pumpkins attorney had to defer to the guardian because Pumpkin is non-verbal so it's up to the guardian to handle things. Pumpkin's guardian expressed concern about Pumpkin going home.
And the tennis match began.
Back and forth with no one saying much of anything.
Pumpkin's mom's lawyer said that Mom had learned the error of her ways and knows now that Pumpkin needs to see the doctor regularly and needs to take her medicine.
CPS just said they would help with the transition.
The judge was NOT impressed. He went off on CPS and asked what their plan was. Exactly what were they going to do to help with this transition??!!
CPS had no answer. Literally - no answer. They pretty much just stood there and mumbled. Granted, the woman speaking for CPS knows nothing of this case. She couldn't speak off the cuff as to what kind of help Mom might need. But honestly, they didn't have a plan. They were just going to send her home.
The guardian stood up and said something along the lines of, "Judge, this child went home in September and then came back in to care just 11 days later. It takes a lot to care for Pumpkin and I don't think Mom has the ability to do it."
(Wow! My words!!)
A little more tennis match took place.
Then the guardian addressed the judge and, using words from the letter I had prepared beforehand that I guess she ended up getting a copy from CPS of -- that I really wanted to go over with her in person but she never scheduled the meeting -- told the judge that she's concerned about the level of neglect that happened to Pumpkin in the 5.5 years before Pumpkin actually came in to care.
(Wow. My words again. I guess I'm part lawyer in this case now too.)
The judge actually heard what the guardian said and rephrased, "So what you're saying is, yes...Mom has completed all the things CPS told her to do. But Mom still doesn't know which way the wind blows and you don't think Mom can take care of Pumpkin."
I practically had to bite my tongue from screaming out, "YES! That's it precisely!!"
Eventually everyone agreed that Pumpkin would go home for extended, unsupervised weekend visits. No one had a plan and this was at least something they all decided to agree on. The judge wouldn't even entertain the idea of Pumpkin being placed with her aunt and uncle in El Paso. And since there was no plan in place to begin with, this was better than nothing.
I'm not sure how I feel about things. Yes, it's better than Pumpkin just plain going home. The judge was right when he said that CPS really wouldn't DO anything to help during the transition. I think it's sad there is family willing to adopt this child and they aren't being considered. I don't think reunification is the safest thing for Pumpkin at all.
But it is what it is. I will drop Pumpkin off at her mom's on Friday night and pick her up on Sunday night. I'm to keep a detailed log of what I see at the home and how Pumpkin responds. CPS has assured me they will be making random unannounced visits while Pumpkin is there.
More than anything I'm glad to be done with court for awhile. Life can go back to the usual amount of crazy. We'll adjust to the new normal of having Pumpkin gone over the weekend. I personally don't think it will be too hard on Pumpkin. Dude and Dolly will be more confused than anyone. But we'll get through.
I think it's time to actually plan our next trip to Sea World!! I need a break!!