As I mentioned in one of my last posts, there was a status conference with the court regarding M&M's case last week. The Queen and I attended, and I think the hearing went well overall. Or, at least as well as we could have expected even if not as well as we had hoped. I have to say that I expected it to be every bit the circus that you might think for a court hearing involving parents having their kids taken away. The reality was anti-climactic to say the least.
The Queen and I arrived about a half hour early to scope things out, meet with the attorneys and case worker (if necessary) and generally make sure we weren't late.
The attorneys for the parents arrived about 15 minutes before the scheduled time. The Queen and I kept eyeballing the door for any sign of the parents. 10 minutes before, nope. No sign. 5 minutes, nada. Time for the hearing, no bio parents.
We went into the courtroom with the case worker. We had been told that we would be invited up to the bench to participate if we wanted to. M&M's case was called, and we went up with the attorneys and the case worker. The prosecutor gave a very brief rundown of the case for the judge's benefit. The attorneys (court appointed apparently) for the parents advised the court that they had not been successful in contacting the bio parents. The ad litem (the attorney appointed by the court to represent M&M) gave a brief statement about M&M's status, the care we've been providing, etc.
Then, the CPS case worker gave her report. She elaborated on M&M's medical condition and the bio parents situation. We found out at this point that the bio parents are not complying with their court ordered service plan which includes parenting classes, anger management classes, and other requirements. She also advised the court that the parents are in danger of being evicted from their apartment and having a repossession (of their vehicle I assume). When asked by the judge, the caseworker advised she was not aware that the parents had not been in contact with their attorneys. She also did not have an explanation for why they were not present at the hearing although she confirmed that they had been given notice of the hearing.
In short, the parents have gone from being in hot water to sitting inside the Chernobyl reactor...after the meltdown.
Of the issues facing them, perhaps the most significant after the possible eviction and repossession is the parenting class issue. They have been kicked out of their class for non-attendance. The reason this is significant is that: 1) they don't get their kid back without completing it, 2) CPS arranged and paid for the first one [that would be your tax dollars wasted right there], 3) the parents will have to arrange and pay for the next class themselves if they want their kid back (I'll give you one guess as to how likely that is to happen), and 4) it does not do them any favors with the court.
The case worker mentioned us positively, and the judge asked us if we were related to M&M. The Queen and I had to say no, but we both told the court that we wanted to adopt her if possible. The case worker had to advice the court that there is a family member out of state who wants to adopt M&M (despite The Queen and I mentally kicking her and willing her to have a sudden case of laryngitis). Fortunately for us, the case worker has not been diligent about sending the necessary paperwork to the family member's state to get the approval process going.
And then it was over. I think the entire hearing was about 10 to 15 minutes start to finish. There will be another status hearing in three months. I fully expect the parents rights to be terminated at that hearing or immediately after. That boils it down to a horse race between us and the out of state family member.
We did have a good discussion with our adoption coordinator after the hearing (she attended as well). She had some good, if not necessarily comforting, insight into the process with the out of state family member. At the end of the conversation, I half jokingly mentioned that M&M needs a brother, and our coordinator said, "I just happened to get a broadcast today via email about two brothers who are legal risk (meaning the legal case for termination of parental rights is fairly far along)." The Queen and I looked at each other, blink, blink..."send us their information."
After reviewing the available information (which, though not much, is positive), we had our coordinator put us in the running for the boys. They are 9 and 6, good students and have no medical or psychological problems (that's a huge issue in these days of Ritalin for everyone). It'll be at least a week before we hear anything on whether we will get them, but the broadcast is limited to our region instead of statewide which narrows the candidate family field.
In other news, I took my first business trip with the new job today. As I write this, I am winging my way home on an American Airlines MD 82. It's been a long time since I flew commercially and even longer since I flew American. Fortunately, I was spared the indignities of both the porno scan and the tickle and grope at both ends of my trip. Thank you, Lord, for small favors.
The Queen texted me just before I boarded the plane to let me know that I have a special gift waiting for me when I get home. It seems we got a call from our adoption coordinator today needing to find an immediate placement for two little girls ages 1 and 4. The Queen and I had a brief exchange the punch line to which is that I will arrive home to be out numbered four to one.
Uh huh. That's what I said too.
The two girls will probably not be a permanent placement, but we really don't know yet. They needed a home right away, and we said right this way.
It's interesting, before M&M, The Queen and I had discussed having one or two kids. Max. Over the weekend, we both had the same thought separately that we wouldn't mind having up to six.
If you had known me 20 years ago, you would be saying "who the heck are you and what did you do with Shepherd K." about right now. What can I say? M&M has had a tremendous influence on me.
It's a good thing I bought The Queen a seven passenger Navigator.
Now, when do the boys arrive so I have someone to teach how to shoot?