Thursday, April 21, 2016

Court is in two weeks

This case goes before a judge in exactly two weeks. I've been told it's a "pre-trial". That means this is supposed to be the end of the case and decisions are supposed to be being made. (See "What court actions can affect me and my child" on this link for a description of the different hearings in Texas.) The trial (final permanency hearing - or court resolution) is scheduled for May 16. This case has already been extended once as Russell has now been in Care for longer than one full year.

Sadly, nothing is being done in this case.


The concurrent goals, as I've seen them most recently, are:
1. non-relative adoption
2. relative conservatorship

I've been told that the primary goal is being changed to "relative conservatorship". I just haven't seen it in writing yet.

At no place in anything is reunification with Bio Mom on the table. And, due to the complexity of this case, no one wants that to be the goal (except Bio Mom and her lawyer, of course).

I believe that CPS is going to ask for another extension.

Bio Mom is still very much with Star's bio dad. That man is the person believed to be the one that broke all of Russell's bones. Mom very much denies being with this man though. She professes over and over that she is single. This is quite contrary to her online presence and the fact that I've personally seen Mom with Star's dad twice in 2016. (He was deported back in September 2015 and hasn't stayed in contact with CPS since that time. He was vocal that he was going to cross back to this side of the wall but since he's been here, everyone is pretending they don't know where he is.)

Russell's grandparents are still being seriously considered for placement of both children. This is more complex now though because Russell's bio dad was released from juvenile detention just this week. Conflicting information has been presented about where he's going to be living. But now that he's out, CPS is going to have to "deal" with him as a parent in the case.

I honestly don't know why they haven't "done" anything yet other than meet with him one time. The found him back in October and nobody did anything about it other than meet with him one time to advise him of the case. To the best of my knowledge, he hasn't even been asked if he wants to work a case plan or be involved in his son's life. (For the first nine months of this case no one was involved on Russell's paternal side at all. The grandparents evaded contact with CPS and lied to everyone about the age and location of their son.)

CPS has been working with Russell's grandparents and the idea that they would take both children (even tho they aren't technically related to Star at all) since January. I personally think the sibling bond should trump everything and these two kids should stay together no matter what. (Think about it - the bond we have with our siblings lasts longer than any other relative bond out there other than possibly cousins. The sibling bond is important!!) CPS is almost 100% sure that Bio Mom won't agree to placing Star with Russell's grandparents though. And because rights aren't being terminated, Mom does have a say in the placement of her children.

So basically everything is a mess. The kids can't go back home to Mom for a huge number of reasons. They can't go to the grandparents right now because of the presence of Bio Dad in the home and several other concerns that haven't been addressed yet. There is also concern of keeping the siblings together and the fact that Mom probably won't allow Star to go to the grandparents. But rather than do anything, CPS is doing nothing.

The DA for the State continues to tell Bopper that it is a very weak case. The DA says there are no grounds to terminate rights on anyone.

I simply do not understand that line of thinking at all!!
  1. Bio Mom is the one that medically neglected Russell to the point of near death. At 18 months of age he weighed less than 10 pounds. She didn't follow up with any of his specialists and didn't consistently get him the medical care that he needed. This is documented by CPS and Mom has the finding "reason to believe" for severe medical neglect on her record. So even though no one can prove who broke Russell's bones, they do know who starved him. It's documented and I've met people at the hospital that would be willing to testify to Russell's condition and how Mom treated him when he was being cared for at the hospital January 2015.
  2. Star's bio dad has abandoned her. He has never met her. He stopped communicating with CPS when he was deported in September 2015. At some point in time CPS could move forward with severing his rights based on abandonment.
  3. Russell's bio dad just turned 19 years old today. He has another son by another woman. He is in a gang. I'm not sure he has ever met Russell. I am quite confident he's not in a position to raise a son with special needs along with a little girl he's not related to at all. (Again, I think the siblings should stay together no matter what.) Someone just needs to sit down with this man and ask him if he would like to relinquish his rights. Worst case, offer him a service plan and see if he's able to follow through. Does he want to take a parenting class? Does he want to learn about Down syndrome and what it takes to raise a child with Ds? It's not unreasonable to ask these things of him if he wants to be involved.
I don't think TPR should be entered into lightly. I think all parents should be given a chance at redemption. But this case involves EXTREME abuse and no one seems to be addressing that at CPS. I did my research. According to the State standards, the grounds for TPR have been met. I simply do not understand why the DA insists on saying this is such a weak case.

I've been a mess every since Bopper left this morning. Even though I didn't expect to learn anything new, hearing her say they're just asking for an extension on the case because they don't like any other option available bothers me tremendously. I feel like I've been sucker punched. I'm feeling anxiety in a very physical way today. There is a heaviness on me and I'm having a hell of a time focusing on anything.

There's something about the year mark in a foster care case that changes me. I guess I feel like progress should be being made somewhere by a year. I totally understand that cases take a long time. I expect them to. I believe that every effort should be made to reunify with bio family before other options are considered. But when progress isn't being made...CPS should be DOING something.

I think they need to get concrete reasons why the DA says this is a weak case. Then they need to fix those problems. They can prove that Mom starved Russell. They can prove that she didn't get him any medical attention for 14 of his 15 fractures. This should mean something. Interview doctors and other staff at the hospital. Locate the ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) therapists that worked in the home with Mom periodically for the first 18 months of Russell's life. Do something.

They need to be doing something to prove that Mom is continually lying about her relationship with Star's dad. She's lying about where she's living. She's lying about so many things that can be proved with little to no effort. Don't tell me that they just have to take Mom at her word. Do something.

Start the official paperwork to "locate" Star's dad. If he's going to abandon his daughter, do something about it.

If the children are going to ultimately end up with the grandparents anyway, do something to help this transition. They've been missing visits lately. Their behavior at visits is questionable. Do something about this. Either work to get the kids there safely, or start working on an alternate placement.

And yes, the only other alternate placement that CPS can identify is our home. So start the TPR process or start talking to people about giving us PMC if they absolutely positively cannot terminate rights.

But this sticking your head in the sand and just asking for an extension is pissing me off. Do something already!


girlfrog2003 said...

Ugh... I totally agree with you. You can't just keep kids in limbo forever just because it's easier.

I also agree that at least based on what you've shared, I'd think there is a pretty strong case for TPR. If at one year mom has not completed a case plan - what's the problem there. Like you said Star's dad is MIA. The only thing possibly left is Russell's bio dad. If he wants to try to get custody of his son (and especially if he's willing to take both siblings), in all fairness CPS should give him a chance now that he's out of jail. But we both know that's a long shot, and if he cannot complete a case plan in another six months, TPR does not seem unreasonable.

Have you spoken with the children's lawyer? Does she have any insight as to why the DA thinks the case is weak? Is it possible that CPS made some major mistakes in the investigation that have somehow compromised the case now (i.e. even though certain facts are known they can't be admitted as evidence because of mistakes on CPS part?)

Praying that it resolves somehow.... at least perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that no rash decisions are being made in the interest of a timeline. As long as they are with you they are safe and well cared for.

Cherub Mamma said...

For what it's worth, Mom has completed every part of her very minor "service plan". She had a total of about 9 counseling sessions. She completed parenting classes. And she had a psycosocial evaluation. I'm guessing the only reason CPS has a leg to stand on to not reunify is the fact that Mom doesn't have stable housing. Everything else is subjective. They don't require employment and Mom continues to say she's not with Star's dad so they can't do anything about that safety situation.

I speak with the kids' lawyer every now and then. Usually we text. I'll be messaging her today or Monday.

And no, I don't think CPS missed anything in the investigation or made any mistakes necessarily. (Other than not ordering the test for brittle bone disease the minute he came in to Care with 15 fractures.)

More than anything, I don't think the DA wants to have to "build a case" against anyone. They just don't want to deal with it. I don't know if it's because of the immigration status of every single adult. Or the fact that the children aren't important to anyone. Or what.

I do take a bit of comfort in knowing that as of right now CPS isn't wanting to rush anything. But that doesn't mean that the kids won't be separated and sent off in two weeks. Anything could happen. I'm just praying logic prevails and the kids stay with me for now.

Annie said...

"Parenting classes" that always cracks me up. I cannot fathom how any kind of parenting classes will ever make a significant difference for someone who is struggling with their own personality disorders or the imprint of bad parenting they experienced themselves. People can go through four years of teachers' college and still come out as impatient, lazy, even abusive teachers. Education has its place, but it certainly has limits. The implication is that someone would starve a child, or allow a boyfriend to abuse them, because they don't "know" better. I think we all can see that makes no sense whatsoever.

Pam H. said...

In my experience, parents know how to play the system. They show up to what they are required to show up for (just enough times to show "interest"), they go to classes, they get their temp job (in my situation) to show they are "trying" and they smile and nod their heads all at the right times.

Here is the thing, if someone wanted their child, actually, truthfully WANTED their child, they would moving heaven and earth to get back their child. They would WORK to get their child back. I think our legal system has been so much "we want to keep bio families together" attitude that they just don't process the fact that if the parents really wanted their kids, they would not have lost them to begin with. I am being harsh, I know, but doggone it, someone has to say it. I think the guidelines should be three strikes and your out, with the first strike being the original removal of the kids. They have nine months to get their life together, prove they want their kids and get their kids back. If they can't manage it in nine months, then terminate their rights and get these kids into homes before they are too old and too scarred by all the insecurities. Someone needs to stand up for these kids and change the laws, motivate caseworkers, and definitely send a message to parents that if you aren't going to take care of your kids appropriately in a safe and loving manner, then there are people who will. (Sorry - just got done reading some horrendous articles from around our country of kids dying (Ohio motel story), little ones chained and leashed outside like animals (Texas article), and the list goes on. Right now a friend of mine has taken in her four great-nieces and one great-nephew who was abandoned by the mother who can't be found, and the girls' father has molested them (ages 3-9 years old), and the courts are considering reunification. This is sick. Something has to change. We are raising a generation of children who are going to be lost for a very long time.