Shortly after 10:30AM the judge walked in with his assistant. Casual chit-chat was had between the judge, CPS workers and lawyers while he got ready to take the bench. It seems that perhaps there was some sort of major traffic jam between where we live and where court is. (The judge is from our town and travels to this county to handle the CPS cases there.) Mr. Amazing and I did notice some interesting activity on the side of the road on the way over. Several police officers and Border Patrol were involved. I guess that situation could have escalated. Whatever it was, the judge was late and there were several cases to be called ahead of ours.
Ms. Colorado handed me a copy of the therapist's recommendations to read over. My heart sank when I saw that Miss Mary had totally changed her tune. SOMETHING happened when she had that single "family therapy session" in Dallas earlier this month. I do not know what it was. But now she recommended that the cherubs be placed with family in Dallas. The note literally said that Grandma understands what things she has to change. But she's willing to change so family is best.
Over two years these cherubs were in Care and Grandma still needs to change things.
Ms. Colorado still seemed confident though. I tried not to worry. I tried to pray.
The cherubs got antsy. We gave them our phones to play with. That will help for a short period of time. But really, neither kid knows anything about video games so they tire of electronics quickly. We listened to a few cases and then, finally, ours was called.
Ms. Colorado went forward with everyone else but did not call us up. I didn't know what to do. I really wanted to be close to the judge so I could hear things and speak if necessary. But the cherubs were so wonky that it was better for them to stay seated and not have to stand in front of the judge.
It is sooooo wrong to require small children to attend court. So many shades of wrong. (CPS had to shush the "crowd" several times before our case was called there was so much commotion in the courtroom. It's the weirdest thing ever.)
Ms. Colorado worked things as the judge was getting ready so that our Petition to Terminate Parental Rights was served before anything started. It was a chess move on her part. She wanted to make sure it was there and on the record immediately. She also submitted the notes I drew up about the last two trips to Dallas. They literally were EXHIBIT A. These notes covered my concerns with the fact that Grandma was taking the cherubs to a cousin's house instead of caring for them herself.
The tennis match started. I don't remember everything that was said. It all moves so fast. And because we were back in the "audience" I couldn't hear absolutely everything. The cherubs were so anxious though that I didn't think standing up in front of the judge would be much better. It was perfectly awful.
I'll try to get this roughly in order....
- Minnie said the kids are doing fine. She said that Dude has some behavior issues but they are related to his age. (Of course she didn't say they are related to the continued trauma of being in foster care and being forced to go on visits to see family where he is continually neglected.)
- Ms. Colorado expressed her concerns about the video that Minnie shot of the cherubs back in August. She said that it violated the cherubs' rights. The video should not have been made. If something like that needed to be done, the cherubs' GAL should have been present or at least informed.
- Minnie denied the existence of the video. Over and over she lied while under oath. She claimed that she only takes pictures of the cherubs but that she HAS to let them play with her phone or they won't behave. She said there was no video. (Remember....Miss Mary told me she saw the video! This was such a blatant lie I was dumbfounded.)
- Ms. Colorado expressed a concern about the level of supervision over the visits in Dallas.
- Minnie said that she supervises. This one she danced around more though. She never exactly said that she comes to Grandma's house to check in on them. Instead she said that Grandma calls her and tells her where they are at. (Um...that's not Minnie making sure anything is on the up and up. That's Grandma making a phone call from Lord really knows where.)
- Ms. Colorado expressed a concern that the cherubs have contact with Tio E at every visit despite it being court ordered that he not have contact.
- Minnie said that the cherubs see their cousins but that they aren't supposed to see Tio E. However, Minnie never answered the charge that the cherubs see him anyway. No one pressed that issue.
- Then it went back and forth about what the children want. What they've said. When they've said it. Etc. Etc. The State tried to claim that I tried to manipulate the cherubs. They said that I've been telling them to say they want to stay with me. They painted me out to be awful. As Ms. Colorado pushed back, they said they wanted to do psychological analysis on Mr. Amazing and I. It went back and forth. Ms. Colorado said it's not safe in Dallas. The State said I'm making things up.
- Finally they decided that it was up to the cherubs. THEY had to decide. Their attorney and their guardian took them outside of the courtroom to talk to them in private. Now was the time for them to use their strong voices.
I looked right at her and said, "It's not looking good."
She shook her head back and said, "Oh. You could hear. No! It's not looking good."