I arrived at the courthouse about 30 minutes before our case was to be called. There was NO parking. I had to go a couple of blocks away and park in another lot and walk over to the courthouse. I prayed all the way there. I also looked at every face praying I wouldn't see Star's bio dad.
The babies and I made it to the outside pavilion about 20 minutes before 9:30 (our time slot on the docket). No one from our case was there. So, the babies sat in their stroller and I tried to interact with them some and to not worry.
Eventually, Bopper, our CPS worker, came over to me. She was a fountain of information. In fact, our conversation prior to court is when all the twists and turns came about.
Things Bopper told me:
1. Sylvia (Bio Mom) claimed she didn't know we had court today. Despite it being announced loud and clear at the last hearing, and despite it being her lawyer's responsibility to remind her, Sylvia claimed she didn't know. Sylvia said she would leave right away and try to get there. Bopper told Sylvia that she would advise the court of this if Sylvia was unable to make it on time.
2. Bopper has been told that her text messages can be subpoenaed during trials. Bopper will no longer be texting me any case details, ever. This, of course, is how it should have been all along. I've always been surprised that Bopper would text the things she does. It seems that any information I want about the case will have to be handled over a phone call though. I'm fine with this but I will miss the updates. I always feel bad calling CPS because they are, in all reality, overworked and underpaid. At least with text she can answer at her convenience. But phone calls from now on it is!
3. The biggest news....they found Russell's bio dad. He is NOT in Mexico and never has been. Russell's bio dad, blog name Ivan, is just barely 18 years old. That means he was probably 15 when Russell was conceived. Sylvia had to have been right around 20. I have to assume Sylvia has been lying to CPS about Ivan due to the possibility of statutory rape charges???? Sylvia outright lied about Ivan's age and his whereabouts. Sylvia also had Ivan's mother lie to CPS about his whereabouts.
But Ivan has been found. He's been in a juvenile detention center for about two years. He is not going to be considered for custody placement. However, his mother has said that she'd like to go through a home study.
This grandmother has only met Russell once in his life. And she blatantly lied about her son to CPS. Her son is obviously not an upstanding citizen right now. But I have NO IDEA if Grandma is capable of caring for Russell or not.
Again, CPS is going to run the home study for placement of just one child. This grandmother is going to be considered for Russell only.
We got called into the courtroom right at 9:30am. Sylvia wasn't there but we proceeded anyway. Thankfully Star's dad wasn't there. He claims he's still in Mexico.
As is almost always the case, it was hard to hear all the intimate details of the proceedings. Not only were my two babies babbling and making a lot of noise, but people tend to come and go during the proceedings. At one point in time a family with a young child came in and sat on the other side of me. I had little kid noises coming from both side.
So all I know are the highlights.
1. Sylvia will continue to be allowed to work her service plan. The next thing she has to be able to do is to prove she has a home for the babies that is safe. So far, that has not happened. But since she has a service plan to work, that is part of it...providing stable housing. CPS is to inquire about this housing and do a home assessment if applicable.
2. Russell's bio dad has to be served. There are a lot of legal things that will happen now that we know where Dad is and can contact him directly.
3. CPS was ordered to get the home study done on Ivan's mom right away.
4. Star's bio dad, the man that scares me, has been deported to Mexico after spending time in a federal prison. He's got quite a criminal record with the highlights being as many as five DUI arrests, public intoxication, and a couple of drug charges. This man though has told CPS he will be back in the States soon. (I believe he's even asked for visits with Star, but this was not discussed in court. This is something Bopper told me via text earlier this week.) Star's bio dad was given a service plan to work as well. It includes such things as substance abuse classes, therapy, and various other typical service plan things. (I really didn't want to give this man a blog name. But it's getting harder to write about him without one. So, I guess I'll call him Fabian.)
Fabian has contacted CPS now that he's back in Mexico. He gave them a phone number but he's refused to give them an address. I believe, but don't quote me on this, that his service plan is contingent on him giving them an address and probably him being in the US. The court is making CPS dot every "I" and cross every "T". I don't believe ever that Fabian will work a service plan. But things like this must be offered if CPS is going to want to terminate his parental rights.
5. The TPR hearing was moved from December 4 to January 29. This will allow for Ivan's lawyer to contact Ivan and for him to be properly served. It will also allow for CPS to file their paperwork accordingly.
6. Sylvia showed up about 5 minutes before the hearing was over. She was never addressed formally but did get an opportunity to talk to her lawyer. She cooed over the babies for a second when it was all over. But since it was finished and I wasn't needed, I left.
7. The primary goal in this case still remains Non-Relative Adoption. The concurrent secondary goal is Relative Conservatorship. Bopper told me prior to court that if the home study on Ivan's mom is not favorable, they will be moving to terminate rights and they will move forward with non-relative adoption. I don't believe there are any more home studies for Star as the three that have been submitted thus far have all been negative.
I've just got to sit on this for awhile. I can't do anything and nothing changes for me or the babies. They will still go to their visits twice a week. It's still all the fun of regular foster care.
It is my hope that I would be able to meet with Russell's grandmother - if she's serious about wanting to care for Russell. That's what I did with Pumpkin's aunt and uncle. They drove over from El Paso and met with me for several hours. I told them all about Pumpkin, her disabilities and what it's like to care for her. I would like to do the same for Ivan's mom if she's serious about taking custody of Russell.
I question how invested she is though. She's only met Russell once in his life. She's already lied to CPS about her son. And though she was invited to attend court today, she did not come. Perhaps she's only giving lip service to wanting to care for Russell forever.
That's my morning in a nutshell. We go back to court in January.