Tuesday, February 28, 2017

we have court on Thursday

The case with the newest cherubs is well under way. I've barely talked to their CPS worker though so I have no clue how the parents are actually doing with their case plan. (Not that it's my business. But when I can tell that parents are doing everything they are supposed to, I know that reunification is a realistic possibility and it can happen sooner rather than later. When it's obvious case plans aren't being complied with, I know that CPS has to work on alternate solutions for the children and permanency.)

I do know that visits have been very hit or miss. I'm not sure how much weight that brings to this specific case, though. The parents have detailed case plans they are to work and CPS is supposed to be handling many things. I haven't been given the information to take Rex for his DNA testing. That was one thing that is supposed to happen. And I seriously doubt ICPC has been started for the relative resource in another state that expressed interest in taking the boys. I know the worker talked with the aunt. But that's all I know.

The hearing this Thursday is a 60-day status hearing. I checked with their worker (playing dumb) and asked if I needed to have the babies' things washed and ready to pack after court...or if the State was planning on keeping the boys in Care longer. Their worker responded that it would take something rather remarkable for the boys to go home on Thursday and that's not what will be happening at court.

I'm pretty sure this case is going to drag out entirely too long. My gut tells me that the parents are not complying at all with any of their service plans. I fear that ICPC (the process to move children in foster care across state lines) will take way too long. In the best of cases it takes many months. I've heard of it taking as long as a year to complete. States don't always play nice with each other. And if for any reason the ICPC falls through, I don't think there is another family option.

I continue to pray for Mom and Dad. But I'm afraid that nothing is changing in their relationship. And that means that Mom is still unsafe (very unsafe) and that means the kids wouldn't be safe if they return home.

I'm not nervous about court this time. There are a couple reasons:
  1. I'm trying really, really, really hard to keep my head and heart in the right place. These boys deserve to live with family. I'm not actively trying to adopt anyone. And even though everything seems super messy, the case is too young for me to be emotionally attached in an unhealthy way. I tend to keep my head and heart in check for about a year. After that year mark I struggle when cases are messy. I'm a shit or get off the pot kind of gal. And I hate how the State drags things out forever without requiring progress. 
    Like when Russell and Star stayed in Care with me instead of being moved to the grandparents. The State didn't do a damn thing to stray from that ultimate ending - so they should have reached it sooner rather than later. Same with these kids. If they're going to move to a new state...let's get that process started. Put me in contact with the aunt. Let's start Facetime or Skype conversations. Let's actually have a healthy transition! 
  2. I'm also taking an anti-anxiety medication. I gave up trying to handle this very bizarre way of living without some extra help. It's not normal to parent other people's children for them with a ton of other people making sure you're doing it the "right way". Nothing about that is normal. And on a day to day basis, I do OK. Court is just very stressful for me because so many times bad things have happened at court. I freak out just driving near the courthouse if I'm out shopping. I'm on a med I can take for a couple weeks and then go off any time I want. Then take again when I think I might need it.
Thursday is the big day. Court just happens to be scheduled at the exact same time a visit with Mom is supposed to happen. I've been told CPS is rescheduling the visit. It might happen after the hearing. I don't know yet. CPS hasn't told me. (Gotta love their level of communication.)

Please pray for the decision makers. Mom needs help. CPS is offering it. But if she doesn't want to accept what's going on in her life, she's going to lose these children. That is the most tragic ending I can think of.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

the first visit

In Texas, after children have been removed and placed in foster care, CPS usually holds something called a Family Group Conference shortly after the first adversary hearing. This meeting was held for the boys this week on Tuesday night. The visit schedule was discussed and transportation arrangements were made so that Mom would be able to get to her visits.

The first visit was supposed to be this morning from 10:00am to 12:00pm. It has to be in the CPS office because the staff is trying to help Mom choose to leave her very abusive situation. They file police reports when she shows up all bruised.

I'm rooting for Mom. I don't know the whole story, but I'm choosing to go into this case fully on her side.

I'll freely admit it - I was NOT on Daisy's mom's side or Russell's mom's, either. Those two babies had been violently physically abused. I was empathetic to their mothers as I firmly believe they are probably victims, too. But Daisy and Russell had been hurt so badly that I didn't have a lot of love for either mom from the get-go.

I wrote a letter to Whiz and Rex's Mom to tuck in the diaper bag. I also packed a second bag with toys to help occupy the time. Our CPS offices typically have horrible (HORRIBLE) visit rooms. Last, I got permission to provide lunch for both boys.

Sadly, at 8:01am this morning, I got a text message from the CPS worker telling me that Mom had called to cancel her visit.

I'm very sad for Mom. I wish there was a way I could (safely) contact her and tell her about her kids. (I've been told by several people that Dad is very volatile. I'm not going to be passing out my phone number to anyone in the family of origin just yet.)

This afternoon I got a call from the visit monitoring agency. (CPS in our area hires 3rd party companies to monitor the visits.) They wanted to know where I live so they can set up visits with Dad. He's employed so they have to be in the evening, on the weekends, or on his varying days off. I was confused when the monitoring agency told me what town they were going to put the visits in. It didn't make sense to me because there are no CPS offices in that town. She then said that the visits were going to most likely be in a Burger King or McDonald's.

A shock of exclamation came out of my mouth.
  1.  I don't think visits should ever be held in fast food restaurants. It implies that the family can afford fast food. It's not private by any stretch of the imagination. And no kid wants to hang out in a McDonald's for two to four hours. (Dad is going to take one 4-hour visit a week because he can't schedule two 2-hour visits.)
  2. Even though I don't think any kid should have visits in a fast food restaurant -- I especially don't think it's appropriate for an infant and a toddler! Dad wouldn't even be able to put Rex down on the floor to play. And for FOUR HOURS?! That is just setting Dad up to fail. And as much as I'm not a fan of him based on what I've been told...that's still wrong on so many levels to set him up to fail from the beginning.
The monitoring agency said that they've been instructed to set visits up with Dad in a different city from where he (and Mom) live and from where I live. The lady said she'd check with her supervisor to see if there was an office that could accommodate the visits instead of having them at a restaurant. I thanked her profusely.

I haven't heard anything back. Probably won't until tomorrow. And now it looks like my weekends are toast for awhile. I won't be able to leave or do anything. (I have to transport and then stay available in case Dad no-shows or wants to cut his visits short.)

Things are about to get messy, I'm sure. Visits are never easy. They will be starting soon.