8:30AM: Dropped off TT and Bart at the community rec center. They handled this morning wonderfully! The little ones and I took off for court.
9:45AM: Arrived at the courthouse. We went in to see the waiting area completely packed. It was obvious the judge was behind schedule. I met briefly with the lawyer standing in for Ms. Colorado. Funny enough, it was the lawyer that stood in for the cherubs' GAL at the last hearing. She didn't have much to say except that Ms. Colorado had told her the meeting was to go over therapy notes. I reiterated that it shouldn't be a placement hearing as we just had one of those in May and it's too soon. She agreed with me. After Mr. Amazing arrived we all went in to the courtroom to wait there.
12:00PM: After waiting forever, our case was finally called! Of course, after waiting forever the cherubs were squirrely, dysregulated and just plain scared. Dude kept talking to Mr. Amazing and Dolly was spinning around in circle making nonsense noises. They were both easily redirected but I felt so bad for them. No child should have to endure court for these purposes!!
Present at court:
Mr. Amazing, me, Dude & Dolly
the lawyer standing in for Ms. Colorado
Dude and Dolly's AAL
Dude and Dolly's GAL
the lawyer representing Bio Dad
First we had to refresh the judge's mind as to why we were all there. Then everyone pulled up the notes from Miss Mary. Then...the therapy bashing started!
Miss Mary's notes were less than stellar. She wrote two paragraphs covering her "recommendation". The problem is, she didn't really make a recommendation. Despite the fact that she included information that specifically said that the cherubs have voiced to her they want "to be an Eldridge", she said too much that had NO VALUE. I mean, it's truth. But legally, in this case, it had little value if any. (In fact, it pissed the judge off!) She said that the children need to be placed where there is the least overall danger, physical and/or emotional abuse, and where they can Thrive! When children thrive through their first five years, they are poised to be strong lifelong learners, earners, and engaged citizens; therefore it is Imperative that this be taken into consideration. (punctuation and capitalization exactly as the therapist wrote it)
Two points were made in favor of us. She said that the cherubs "want to be an Eldridge". She also said that during a home visit it was apparent the children had bonded with me. But the generic statements the rounded out the final paragraph upset everyone. The judge even commented about the exclamation points and how they made him upset. (yikes!)
Our lawyer and the GAL made mention that perhaps Ms. Mary should be called to testify. CPS just agreed that the notes didn't say much. It went round and round with no one saying much of anything. Then the judge said, "Maybe we just need to get a new therapist."
I quickly jumped in and said that the cherubs have just now started actually talking to her. They get very nervous around new people. I had great concern that if a new therapist was required we would be starting over a ground zero and the little ones would shut down. I asked if maybe we should just meet more frequently so that more thorough notes could be submitted.
Eventually, because no one would say much of anything, it was decided to give Ms. Mary one more chance. Her notes have to include more information and more of a direct recommendation. The State is supposed to somehow connect her to Grandma N so that Ms. Mary can actually "compare" the two families (ours vs. hers). I highly doubt the State is going to do this. But...it's out of my hands. The cherubs are going to try and meet closer to one time per week instead of bi-weekly.
Everyone was trying to calculate how many therapy visits we should be able to work in before our next hearing in September. I pointed out that we will be gone for two weeks of vacation. Then I looked straight at the judge and said, "Did you get the paperwork to sign so we can go?" He gave me a blank stare. I looked at the CPS supervisor and asked him. It seems that Minnie had told him nothing of this and he was unprepared.
Praise God the judge is a reasonable man! He looked at everyone and announced our travel is approved. It's on the record and he doesn't have to sign anything. We have permission to travel.
Needless to say I'm just a tad pissed off at Minnie for not tending to this detail. I'm quite confident it was on purpose.
12:15PM: Our case adjourned. My lawyer looked at me and said we needed to talk outside the courtroom.
She told me that sometime during the long wait for our case to be called, the CPS supervisor told her that today was also going to be a Placement Hearing. My lawyer said, "No it's not. It's been too soon." He replied something along the lines of, "It doesn't matter. We can do this anyway."
I don't know why the State didn't ask for the placement change but I'm grateful they didn't.
It does set the tone for the rest of the case. Minnie will continue to omit details whenever she can and the State is going to fight us every step of the way.
I thank you all again for your prayers!! Storming the heavens we were once again victorious! Nothing changed and I'm not any closer to being able to offer the cherubs permanency. But the things the State wanted didn't happen again. Whew!