Tuesday, March 1, 2016

the meeting with the grandparents

I've been meaning to blog about how the meeting with Russell's grandparents went. Here's a quick summary. My bottom line...I sure wish I would have taken Spanish in high school instead of French. And as much as I know learning Spanish would be good for me, it's just not something I'm up to doing right now. Needless to say, the meeting was very interesting.

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The grandparents were early. They brought two of their kids. They sat out in their car. I don't know what they were waiting for. After about 10 minutes, I went outside and told them they could come in. The lawyer messaged me right about the same time the grandparents arrived to tell me that she was hung up in court but would be there as soon as she possibly could.

The grandparent and their kids came inside and sat down in the living room. I looked at them and said I was feeding the babies in the kitchen. The house has an open floor plan. They could have easily followed me. They didn't.

I sat in the kitchen feeding the babies for a bit. It was weird. I went in the other room and asked them if they wanted something to drink. They said no. I tried to tell them there were more toys on the other side of the pony wall for their kids to play with. They just nodded.

It was weird. There's just no other way to describe it.

When I was finished feeding Russell, I needed to put him down for nap. I walked out to the living room. Grandpa is the only one that talks to me. (He speaks some English. Grandma speaks none.) He put his hands out. He wanted to hold Russell. I tried to explain that Russell needed to nap. It was awkward. I tried to explain Russell HAD to nap so he could handle the visit this afternoon with his mother OK. Grandpa seemed to understand.

I put Russell down for nap and went to get Star out of her highchair. We all sat around in the living room.

The lawyer was almost an hour late. We sat around not talking to each other for almost 45 minutes. They played with Star. Their kids played. It was weird. But not painful weird.

What was REALLY weird was when the lawyer got there. She started talking to them - in Spanish. They went on and on and on. The lawyer translated nothing for me. Then she turned and asked if I was following along. I shook my head and reminded her I know no Spanish.

The lawyer ended up translating only about 20% of the next hour's worth of conversation for me. It was weird.

I really wish I spoke Spanish.
I'm too old to learn Spanish.

The gist of it all...

The lawyer made it clear that they will not be allowed to let the babies have contact with Mom. Mom is still with the abuser. (Granted, no one is being held legally responsible for the physical abuse Russell suffered. Star's dad is the suspect – but no charges were filed.)

There was a lot of talk about this placement of the children with them being permanent. We discussed how Russell will most likely never live independently.

I went over as much as I could about Russell's health. I did get to talk a lot about his feeding issues and his speech delays. They asked a few questions. Not a lot. But enough to be able to tell they were listening and taking what I had to say seriously.

As the meeting went on, I basically just went through Russell's binder section by section. (I keep all medical records together in a binder for my foster kids. Russell's is completely full and it's 3" thick.) I opened up each section and explained the specialist, why he sees that specialist, and what to expect in the future.

They listened to everything I had to say. I felt like they took it all seriously. They are VERY nice. They love the children...and they just met them. But they seem like good people and maybe even decent parents. If I'm being completely honest, I appreciated how their own children behaved during this meeting and how the grandparents redirected them when necessary.

Grandpa said he can tell I "do more" than what most people would. He thanked me several times. I don't foster for compliments. But it's nice when family sees that I care as much as I do.

I still have serious reservations about this placement. But if it's going to happen...it could be worse. Everything is up to CPS, the lawyer, and the judge now. It's not my place to do much else. I can express my concerns appropriately (not whining, or complaining - just stating truth based off of personal observations) during home visits with Bopper. But it is not my place to complicate things for CPS. I will do whatever I can to support their goal. They are the ones that have full contact with all parties involved. They have been to the grandparents' home. They have seen the home study and know much more than I do about everything. So even though I have reservations, I'm not a decision maker when it comes to things like this. I do need to step back and know my role.

Foster parents that think they need to "fight" everything bother me sometimes. I see a lot of interactions in foster parent "support groups" online about going to the supervisor. Calling the lawyer. Hiring your own lawyer. And things like that.

Yes, these kids have bonded to me. Yes, these kids are perfectly meshed into our family. But that doesn't mean they can't bond to someone else or become a part of another family.

And yes - it's incredibly hard for me to write that. Sometimes my brain knows all of that is truth and I have to work hard to convince my heart.

But it doesn't make it any less true.

The goal in this case is back to Relative Conservatorship. That means that CPS wants to place the children with a relative permanently. (It's called PMC in Texas. That stands for Permanent Managing Conservatorship.) Mom will retain her parental rights, but she will not have custody of the children and her contact with them will be limited (based on how the PMC order is written at the hearing). It is my job to support that goal. Right now, Russell's grandparents are the only relatives that CPS is considering. I will do what I can to make the transition between my home to theirs as smooth as it can be. That's one reason why I asked to have a meeting with the grandparents to go over Russell's special needs.

The meeting ended about an hour after the lawyer arrived. When it was over, the lawyer started to take off right away. I stopped her and asked if I should have the kids packed up and ready to leave next week after court. Her eyes bugged out. She informed me that no one is recommending a placement change yet! I was relieved!! Incredibly relieved!!

Since this meeting at my house, court has been held one more time. I honestly don't know what happened at it other than, as far as I know, nothing changed. The cherubs still visit their mother two times a week in the CPS office for a three hour visit each time. They also have a two hour visit one time a week with the grandparents. Bopper has fully assured me that she will let me know ahead of time when things will change. I really do need to trust her more. She has told me all along that she will let me know if/when CPS recommends to the court for the grandparents to actually get custody.

Most likely they will offer unsupervised, weekend visits to the grandparents before that happens. Again, Bopper assures me that she'll let me know in advance when CPS makes the change to the visit schedule.

So we're all in a holding pattern. Bopper tells me that the final hearing in this case it to be held in May. The pre-trial will be May 5 with the final hearing on May 16.

In the meantime, I get to love on the babies and do what I can to support the grandparents in their attempt to gain custody of the cherubs.

1 comment:

VJ said...

You're never too old to learn a new language! I know it's probably about not having the time, but maybe you could download some of those free podcasts and listen to them in the car? I imagine you're frequently driving your kids around from one appointment/extracurricular to the next, and then your older kids could pick up some Spanish, too. It can't hurt!