Thursday, April 26, 2012

Going to Court

I'm still learning not to believe anything is final until it actually happens. I know all you experienced foster moms out there are going to be laughing at me!

Last month, during our team meeting, the case worker said they were going to propose changing to Paternal Aunt at the next court date. There would be transitional visits until school was out and then the move would be permanent. She said they were going to propose this because she doubted that Mom would be in a position to get the kids back in the next 6 months and they wanted to get the kids in a place that "could become permanent if need be." I was doubtful that Paternal Aunt is really what's best for the kids, but not for reasons that seemed strong enough to fight it.  It really sounded like this was a done deal, so I started mentally planning how many transitional visits we would need to get all their stuff to the aunt's house.

Then I casually mentioned the plan to the CASA, who I assumed already knew about it, and she nearly hit the roof. It was too early in the case, according to her, for the case worker to be assuming that Mom wouldn't make it, especially given how much progress Mom has made. After confirming that I had not asked to have the kids leave my home, the CASA said that they were thriving where they are and there is no reason to disrupt them in  a way that will make it harder for them to maintain connections to their mother. The CASA announced her intention to oppose the change of placement at court.

So, I went to court.

I've never gone before. These kids' case is in a different county than I am, so their courthouse is about an hour from my home. I've been told repeatedly that I am "welcome to attend", but that "it's not necessary" and that the length of time to expect to be there is unpredictable. I don't know how typical this is, but apparently, all the cases to be heard that day are told to be there at 9am. Then the judge hears them in whatever order he feels like it. (Or maybe there's some sort of triage system? But no one ever knows what "number" they're going to be or how many other cases there will be that day.) And the hearing of each case can last anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour. So, you show up at 9; you might be the first case heard and be done quickly and out of there by 10am . . . or you might be last case heard and not even get before the judge until after lunch. With a preschooler who is only in school from 9-12, that kind of don't-know-when-this-will-end timing doesn't seem worth it for "not necessary."

But this time was different. This time, there was dissension among the big players about what should happen with these kids in the near future. So I wanted to hear exactly what was said on both sides and exactly what decision the judge made. I made arrangements for a (state-approved-for-transportation) babysitter to take O to school, so I could be in court at 9. I made arrangements for the same sitter to pick him up if I wasn't going to be back in time.I even made arrangements for my husband to come home from work early in case I wasn't going to be back before the bus got home from school at 3pm!

I arrived safely, at 5 minutes before 9. We waited about an hour before it was our turn and then our case was called in to the courtroom.

And the only mention that was made of Paternal Aunt was that her home study "looked good so far" but hadn't been completed yet because BioMom opposed the children moving there.

Stay tuned for what I DID learn about the case in court (and at the day-after team meeting)!

1 comment:

  1. I wondered if our state was the only one that had that silly court scheduling (or non) system. Such a waste of everyone's time. I know in our case already there have been key people that didn't go to court because they couldn't stay there all day and wait. Crazy.