Dude and Dolly went to day care in the morning. It took everything Dude had to not cry when I dropped him off. He HATES being separated from me. But he held it together and (Praise God) they let Dude and Dolly stay in the same room.
TT and Bart had swimming lessons. I stayed and watched and then helped facilitate the transition over to the rec center. Both boys were fine and not too nervous at all today. (Court has a tendency to mess everyone up no matter how hard I try to shelter everyone from those big feelings.)
I got home and Mr. Amazing I decided to head off to the city where court was being held early. Mr. Amazing has wanted to take me to a Mexican restaurant in that town for a long time now. I knew I would barely be able to eat, but I smiled and played along.
I was right about not being able to eat. The food was delicious but by the time it arrived I was a mess!! I was shaking. My stomach was in knots. It was awful. I forced myself to eat some. But it wasn't easy.
By 1:00PM we decided to just go over to the courthouse. There was little else we could do. Might as well wait there. We went through the scanners and up to the second floor. Another family approached me right away thinking I was a CPS worker. I had to disappoint her and say I was there for a different case.
By about 1:30PM people started filing into the courtroom. Mr. Amazing and I took our seats and waited. And waited. And waited.
At 2:00PM our lawyer still was not there. I cannot express how nervous I was by this point in time. I think she rolled in around 2:15 or so. She shook our hands and told us that no one had objected in writing to our intervention. Of course, things were still up to the judge but it looked good.
We had to sit through another case first. The children had just been removed within the last two weeks. There was a LOT of drama. The waiting was excruciating! But, by just a little after 2:30PM, they called our case.
the lawyer for CPS
us (Cherub Mamma and Mr. Amazing)
a different lawyer standing in for the cherubs' "official" GAL
the AAL for our cherubs
a lawyer for bio dad
Things started off with Ms. Colorado announcing the facts of why we were all there. She pretty much looked at the judge and said, "The cherubs have been with the Eldridge's for two years. The Eldridge's would like to legally intervene in this case. We submitted our paperwork in a timely fashion giving all parties enough time to object. No one did. You have to let us in."
I was impressed. I'm pretty sure Ms. Colorado knows her way around a CPS courtroom. She commanded herself well. I've heard some pretty wishy-washy lawyers since we became foster parents. I'm grateful we were able to hire someone like Ms. Colorado.
Bio Mom's lawyer was not in attendance. I guess she said something to the judge about objecting to our intervention. But because it wasn't filed in writing it didn't matter.
Bio Dad's lawyer said nothing the entire time.
CPS's lawyer claimed that she didn't see the paperwork until last Thursday. If she had known she would have objected. However, because she (or someone in her office) didn't do their job, her verbal objection meant nothing as well.
From there conversation bounced around a bit. The judge looked at me and said, "I remember concerns being brought up earlier in this case. I remember telling the foster parent to hire their own counsel. It looks like they did." (It was almost like he was proud of us at that moment.) Multiple times he said things along the lines of, "I have to look at the whole picture here. I have to consider how long the children have been with this family. I have to take in to consideration what the children want. I have to look at everything."
In my opinion, it was the judge's way of saying he's totally in favor of us adopting the kids. He blew off anything negative that CPS tried to bring up. (Because yes, they mentioned the investigation from a year ago!) He kept saying he had to look at the whole picture. Without hesitation the judge said we could intervene. We were officially "in"!!
Somehow it was brought up that CPS had started the process to modify the permanency plan. I think this means they had started considering termination but hadn't filed any paperwork yet. I do NOT know how this all works.
I am going to storm the heavens with prayers that CPS will agree to termination. If they do, they can work hand in hand with our lawyer and the process will go faster (and will be much cheaper for us). If not, it's up to our lawyer to file the petition for termination. I believe that is what she is going to do next. But if CPS would just cooperate with her.....
Side note: The attorney filling in as GAL had spoken with us prior to being called forward for the case. She knew NOTHING of the case so we went over some of the details. Coincidentally she just happens to be the lawyer that represented Pumpkin's bio mom, so she knew us. She filled us in on Pumpkin (another blog post for sure). I pulled out my phone and showed her a recent picture. Following that picture was one of Dolly's extremely long hair. I took the opportunity to ask if she could see about allowing Dolly to get a haircut. She said she'd do what she could.
Sure enough, after the judge said we were "in", the GAL asked him about the haircut. He seemed almost surprised that anyone would ask him - especially since the child wants it cut. He even said, "My daughter got her hair cut last week and nobody asked me first." He was puzzled why this was an issue. Minnie explained that Bio Mom doesn't want it cut but that she doesn't exactly know why. Once the judge was able to ascertain that it had nothing to do with religion, he quickly gave it his blessing. Everyone oooo'd and aaahhh'd when I pulled out my phone to show the picture. They all exclaimed that it must be very hot and uncomfortable and heavy. Everyone agreed it should be cut. (I can't wait!! Bath time is going to be so much easier now!!)
Then we set about trying to determine when the next hearing should be. As of the last hearing (in May) we were supposed to meet next on July 1. Well, I think the judge wanted to skip that special hearing altogether and just meet at the next scheduled permanency hearing in September. The State, for reasons I don't know, insisted we meet sooner. So, we will be having court again on July 15. The reason for this special hearing is to go over, in court, therapy notes from the kids. This is not going to make the State very happy. The therapist believes the kids are best off left with us. I sure hope her notes reflect that appropriately.
During this conversation about dates though, the judge asked if everyone was going to be there July 15. He indicated this is a common time for vacations and he wanted to schedule accordingly. (Mr. Amazing is convinced the judge wanted a reason to push off our next court date.) He looked at us and asked if we were going to be on vacation.
I looked at the judge and said, "Well, we would like to take a vacation but I have to have permission from you to go anywhere. Would you let us go on vacation?"
He smiled from ear to ear and said yes! I told him we'd like to take the cherubs to Iowa with us. He said, "No problem. Kids go everywhere all the time. I just let some kids go to California." He said all he needed was the official paperwork and he'd sign off on it.
Minnie grinned like this wouldn't be a problem at all. (Boy I could see fire behind her smile though. I was removing all her power over me.) I smiled right back and said, "Is it a problem with YOU if I take the kids on vacation?" Almost through her teeth, but oh so sweetly, she said, "No problem. I'll just need an itinerary."
And that was that. We were let in to the legal case. Our lawyer is going to draw up a petition to terminate. Dolly gets a haircut. And we get to go on vacation. I couldn't have asked for better results!