Thursday, December 1, 2011

Court This Week

I know not many foster parents can say this regularly, but court was great. It was better than expected this week. It definitely had its sad moments, but I really feel we are moving forward with an open adoption so it doesn’t have to be entirely sad.

Court opened and immediately the judge called the four lawyers into her chambers. Everyone looked shocked like this doesn’t usually happen and why is this happening. I had that brief moment of fear that something was going wrong and they were going to take sweet baby D. I was afraid that something went wrong with the relinquishment. But, they came back and no one looked shell shocked. It seemed to be okay. There are four lawyers because there is one for DCS, one for the GAL, one for mom, and one for dad.

Mom and Dad did not need to be at court since they relinquished but I think they wanted to make sure things were okay. I looked at it like they needed a little more assurance that baby D was staying with us like they had decided and wanted.

The first thing the judge asked was about paternity and Dad did have a paternity test and he is her biological father. Then the State got to say what they prepared. They basically said that Mom and Dad were active in the case, attended visits, foster parents were active, the bio parents relinquished and that foster parents wanted to adopt. The GAL Lawyer asked if there were any concerns and Mom and Dad’s lawyers had no questions.

We got asked a few questions by the lawyers like how she was doing, any concerns, and any parameters set on visits, etc. The judge commented that we looked very happy.

The Judge spoke to the parents first and commended them on making sure their baby girl was taken care of, making the best decision for her, and realizing that they loved her so much they knew that maybe someone else needed to do the day-to-day care of their baby. The judge said the SW, GAL, foster parents, and parents showed the way the system should work with everyone working together.

I can’t say what made this case different, but everyone was engaged and looking out for baby D. She had a very proactive Social Worker, her GAL was always available and made sure she was spoken for, we had a great mediator, and we were involved. Bio parents were welcoming and involved. I just go back to the very first visit when dad walked in and his first words were “I am so grateful to you two for taking care of my baby”. I think it set the tone going forward. I always made sure that they were kept up-to-date, I liked sending pictures, and I liked writing notes on how she was doing and what she was doing.

Whether the goal is reunification or adoption, I think this is how it is supposed to work, a whole unit of people working together and looking out for the best interests of the child who can’t speak for themselves.

We set the first visit with her parents the day after Christmas. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I think it is going to be a good thing. We met mom and dad on Monday and set up the visit and at court Tuesday mom said she already took the bus by the location and she knows where it is. I got an address and contact number for mom (I hope it stays reliable, it is her mom’s number and the address is the shelter). I reluctantly gave them my number. I had meant to research getting a number to use for them, but I think it will be okay. I don’t think they will abuse it.

I struggle a little with what I will tell Miss M going forward as we don’t know her dad and her mom stopped showing for visits the visit before the final visit (after faithfully showing up for almost the entire year). I will have a few years before she questions why D has another mom and dad but she doesn’t. I just don’t want her hurt by it.

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