Thursday, March 20, 2014

Court for Ricky

Just to make sure everyone knows Ricky's timeline...

Ricky spent 14 years living in extreme poverty being subjected to severe neglect and physical abuse. In late elementary school he started down a dangerous path himself. He joined a gang and got involved in substance abuse.

In 8th grade Ricky met Rebecca. She was his teacher. He decided to turn his life around. She helped him.

Right around 2 years ago, Ricky moved in with Rebecca with his mother's full blessing. CPS was "watching" their family but nothing official was being done. Ricky's little brother went to live with another friend of the family.

In October of 2013 Ricky's bio mom fell apart and CPS got officially involved. Ricky continued to live with Rebecca only now there was paperwork involved and it was an "official" fictive-kin placement.

On December 17, 2013 Ricky attended a Status Hearing. The purpose of a Status Hearing is to make sure that there is a Service Plan in place for the child(ren) and that the bio family is aware of the Service Plan and all of its contents. Everyone is also to make sure that the bio family understands what has to happen in order for reunification to occur. During this hearing CPS twisted reality and made it sound like Rebecca was denying CPS access to Ricky. He was removed from Rebecca's house and came to live with us.

Court this past Tuesday was the first Initial Permanency Hearing for the case. The judge reviews the case to make sure that the Service Plan is being followed. The purpose of the hearing is to ensure that a final order consistent with the permanency plan is rendered prior to the date of dismissal.

The courtroom was full of people. Unfortunately though, Ricky's AAL (attorney ad litem) was not one of them. However, he did phone in and was there in voice. He started things off by perfectly expressing Ricky's desires. Ricky's letter had reached the judge and both his AAL and GAL (guardian ad litem) prior to court. It was evident in how Ricky's AAL worded things. I was impressed and felt a surge of hope.

After the AAL finished his portion, the judge, without any emotion in his voice at all said, "I will not be considering a change of placement during this hearing."

I was crushed. Rebecca was there and her face fell. I had to explain it to Ricky. I could see anger in his eyes but he contained it.

I'm not sure, but I do believe an official goal change was made then for both boys (Ricky and his younger brother, Michael). Ricky is now set for Independent Living. Michael's goal is no longer reunification but has been changed to "relative conservatorship".

There was some back and forth about the boys and their current status. CPS could say nothing wrong about either kid. (I mean...come on...Ricky is awesome!!!!)

Then the GAL asked the judge if the children could be excused from the courtroom. The judge looked at the GAL and said, "I think I know what you're going to ask me. Let's take this back to chambers." And with that, CPS, the judge and the lawyer went out of the courtroom. (They did say that they would reconnect the call with the AAL in chambers as well.)

I had NO IDEA what they were discussing. It made me feel horribly nervous. But all we could do was sit there and wait.

About 10 minutes later they all walked back into the courtroom. With no emotion, the judge again said that he would not be allowing any changes in placement. The children were to stay in their current foster homes. Then he mumbled something about taking up the request again in trial if they want and witnesses could be presented if necessary.

They left the room to discuss Ricky and his request to go back to Rebecca. The answer was no. And they refuse to tell him WHY it's not possible. We know nothing!!

The Permanency Pre-Trial was scheduled for June 25 and the Trial is July 2.

CPS never even left the courtroom to talk to Ricky after things finished. We all filed out and stood outside stunned. Rebecca was sad. I was angry and wanted answers. And Ricky was numb.

Ricky's request to have visitation with Rebecca wasn't addressed either. So, legally, he still cannot see her at all. We literally know nothing. CPS is Hell bent on keeping Ricky with me for the next 9 months. But to me, it simply does not make sense. They have to pay me daily to care for Ricky. Rebecca would do it for free. So it's not the money. And if Rebecca isn't "safe" - shouldn't someone be doing something about that now?! She's a teacher after all and comes into contact with kids every single day. And really, if Rebecca isn't safe now, why is she going to be OK in 9 months when Ricky turns 18? Shouldn't they be getting him to consider other independent living plans?

I've got a call in to each of his lawyers (the AAL and the GAL). I'm not going to talk to CPS any more than I absolutely have to. I do NOT trust them in Ricky's case at all!!! I know that Emilia will lie to me about what was said in chambers at court. I'm hoping Ricky's lawyer will say something though. Someone needs to be fighting for Ricky.

Thankfully the stress hasn't crippled us. Ricky keeps insisting he's fine. And he knows he has a home with us for as long as he wants. We will be a resource for him after age 18 too. I don't need a per diem to keep on loving and supporting a kid!!!

I hope a lawyer calls us soon though. I want answers!!


If you're interested, I found this PDF online that explains Texas' CPS process. It's for the bio parents but it answered some of my questions. Believe it or not, they never covered ANY of this in any of our foster parent trainings.


Bessy said...

Would it be possible for Ricky to emancipate?

Cherub Mamma said...

In the letter Ricky wrote to the judge, and then also submitted to both the AAL and the GAL - he asked. We've asked everyone. We keep being told NO. When we met with the GAL in his office he point blank told us that there isn't enough time. Emancipation is not an option at all.

kate said...

Thanks for all the updates on both "children". We're praying for you. I will especially pray that you are able to sleep and be well-rested as you protect the interests of these two cherubs.

Annie said...

Just so heartbreaking. I never cease to be surprised at how upset I get physically reading some of your posts....even that phrase "independent living" makes me almost physically ill. In our case because I understood that the boy in question might be 16 in body, but was about 13 or less emotionally and still needed a family. At least Ricky is doing well, and HAS a lot of support - and he doesn't HATE living with you. Could be a lot worse!