Thursday, September 6, 2012

Permanency hearing

Today we had a permanency hearing at court. This is a fun meeting where the parties involved get to go over the permanency report compiled by the social worker a few weeks ago. Basically, it's a review of what progress has been made so far, and today we also dealt with the dispositional plan  for the mom and with the grandma's custody petition.

First, the progress report: no real progress by the mom, very minimal progress by the dad (and his progress is pretty much all since the report was written). The mom has actually missed some appointments and stuff, so one of the facilities involved won't even give her an appointment for six months. She's not in a great place right now, and all the possible interpretations of that sentence apply. The dad has had sporadic visits. He has to be in the building an hour and fifteen minutes before the visit starts, and he has managed that when he has to be there at 11:45, but not when he has to be there at 9:45. So he has had half of his possible visits in the last two weeks. He responded to a note I left him in the notebook we send to visits with a very positive note about how strong she's getting and how it must be the solid food, and thanking us for all we've been doing. After court today he came over to say hi and said that he was going to try to catch the worker and see if she could come inspect his house today, but then he walked right past her on his way out without saying a thing. He's very good at saying things that he thinks people want to hear, but we'll see what his longterm follow-through is like.

Second, the mom's dispositional plan. I think these are typically settled before the baby has been in care for eight months, but the custody issues with the brother complicated things, I guess, so this was just settled today. The short version is that this is a document that was drawn up months ago detailing the goals the mom would have to meet to get her kid(s) back. The mom officially consented to the plan today. Nothing on it changes but now she agrees that she must complete the items on it if she wants custody.

Third, the grandma's petition. She has officially withdrawn her custody bid for our baby for now. Her life has gotten more complicated in the last few months and she realized it 's better for her to focus on finding stable housing for herself and to resolve the custody stuff going on with the baby's brother before refiling the petition for her granddaughter. This is actually really self-aware and mature of her, and it means we don't have to go to trial so that's convenient for me.

So to summarize court: nothing changes for us. No surprise there.

It's been really trying for me to know that the dad could really file for custody at any minute. That uncertainty is especially rough when he does this pseudo-involvement. If he keeps up the regular visits and does the few things the county asks, he could get her back without much fuss, and that's his right. I do think that children belong with their families of origin when that's safe, and I think it's possible, even probable, that her dad could keep her mostly safe. But it gets complicated because of my head-over-heels bottom-of-the-deepest-ocean love for this girl, and my resentment that she's not important enough for him to make time for. I want him to want her enough to work really hard for her, and he totally isn't. I know that if I were asked to do anything to keep this kid, I would make it happen, and as quickly as possible. It's hard to convince myself that it would be in her best interest to leave us for him, even at the same time that I recognize I'm being selfish.

I've had three coworkers ask this week, super casual-like, some version of,"So do you still have that baby?" like it's no big thing if I don't. When I confirm that we do, they usually follow with some question about if that means we're adopting her. I know they don't know what they're talking about, but it's hard to explain quickly and politey over and over that we're nowhere near knowing about that.

I have no cohesive warp-up. I love my delightful perfect daughter and life with her is awesome and at the same time life as a foster parent is really hard, but not really hard the way I expected. The end.


  1. i imagine, in a way, i know how you are feeling. her case could go either way. there are so many people in line grabbing at her.

    but she is with you. and until that really ACTUALLY changes it doesn't matter.

  2. I'm glad for you that gma dropped her petition for custody! It's so hard being absolutely in love with "your" baby who may go to live with someone who could take them or leave them. Ugh.

  3. MamaFoster, I think you've said something similarly wise on here before, and I actually tell myself that over and over. It's not over until the judge says it is. And yeah, Carrie, that's spot-on.