Wednesday, December 30, 2009
In an effort to boost my spirits, yesterday I drove to the top of a nearby mountain and played with kids in the snow.
Snuggle Bug and Boo had a wonderful time throwing snowballs, catching snowflakes with their tongues, and making snow angels. It was beautiful and peaceful up there on the mountain. It was exactly what I needed to clear my head and to reconnect with God and nature.
Thank you all who have left supportive comments in my previous post. The prayers and encouragement from family and friends (online and in person) are what keep us going.
I'll update when I can.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Severance ruling overturned for Boo's case.
It's been so long since I've posted. To be honest, our life has been hell as of late!
We've waited on pins and needles for 8 months to learn what the Court of Appeals would rule (remember, we got a severance ruling back in March and Boo's bio mom appealed the ruling and the case got sent up to the higher court of appeals).
In mid-November, we got very bad news. The Court of Appeals overturned the severance ruling, stating that the state did not provide sufficient evidence that Boo's bio mom would be unable to parent her child in the near future. The fact that Boo had been in foster care for over 16 months, while her bio mom was incarcerated wasn't enough evidence. The problem was that her bio mom got out of prison on parole, spent 90 days in a half-way house, and swore up and down that she was ready to reform and parent her child.
It was also suggested by the Court of Appeals that perhaps CPS hadn't done enough to do an ICPC (Interstate Compact Placement of a Child) transfer of Boo to the state where bio mom was incarcerated, as bio mom requested when she learned her daughter was in the foster care system. They suggested that CPS should've tried to get this other state to find a foster family for Boo when the 3 families that Boo's bio mom suggested didn't meet the ICPC criteria to foster her.
So, what has bio mom been up to these past 8 months as she awaited news of the Court of Appeals ruling? Well we don't know the entire story, but we do know that she quit her job this fall (because she wasn't getting enough hours) without having another job lined up. We do know that she got arrested 4 times for the same misdemeanor crime within the span of 1 month (Oct-Nov)! We learned this week that her parole was revoked and she's currently incarcerated again, this time for at least 6 months. If she doesn't get written up, she'll be eligible for another parole hearing in the summer of 2010.
You'd think that the fact that she got arrested 4 times and is back in prison would be enough to schedule another severance trial, or at least take the pressure of an ICPC transfer off. Apparently not.
Bio mom's lawyer is still fighting to get Boo transferred to this other state, so Boo can have visits with her bio mom in prison and so that bio mom can start working a case plan if/when she's released from prison next summer.
Sadly, after having the severance ruling overturned, CPS and Boo's lawyer seem to be washing their hands of it all. They're not standing in the way of bio mom's lawyer demanding an ICPC transfer. In fact, CPS is starting to draw up the paperwork in anticipation of the new juvenile judge court ordering that ICPC be started, despite the fact that the judge has said he wants to wait to see what bio mom's incarceration status is (it was not known at the last hearing that her parole was indeed revoked).
Boo has been with our family for nearly 2 years. She is nearly 3 years old. She's seen her bio mom twice (two 1-hour supervised visits that were quite traumatic for Boo) since birth. She doesn't know her. Boo has been through hell being uprooted 3 times before reaching us. We've spent months working to get her stabilized! She thinks of us as her family, we're the only family she's ever truly known. She's well bonded to us. She's thriving and happy here. She's safe and well cared for her. We love her, she loves us.
Sadly, there's a good chance she will be removed from our home and sent to another foster family in another state in the hopes that her bio mom will get out of prison and get her life together so she can parent her child. It will take another 6-9 months from her release date to even have a hope of determining how successful she'll be! So, that means Boo will remain in foster care another year and a half!
CPS and Boo's lawyer are no longer thinking of the best interest of this child. Bio mom's lawyer's job is to protect the rights of the bio mother, even at the expense of the best interest of this child, and he's working hard to do just that.
This bio mom has had over 20 years of criminal/substance abuse history. She's been convicted of 40+ criminal charges (2 felony convictions, the rest misdemeanors). She's been incarcerated in prison 3 times now and has violated parole twice now. I've tried really hard not to judge throughout this process, but for goodness sake, at what point is enough enough?! At what point is her child allowed to have stability and permanency without having to wait longer to see if her bio mom is willing/able to change her life?!
What are we to do?!
Well, we've decided to hire an attorney to represent us. We've filed a Motion to Intervene in the hopes that the judge will make us a party to this case and give us legal standing and a voice, since Boo's lawyer is not proving to be much of a voice for her.
Our lawyer is suggesting that we file a Motion to Severance, to launch another severance trial, in the hopes that bio mom's recent incarceration will provide enough grounds to prove that bio mom will not be able to successfully parent her child in the near future!
There's a Status Hearing scheduled for mid-January and we'll learn more then.
In the meantime, we're loosing sleep worrying about things like, what kind of life will Boo lead if she's forced to leave our family and move to another state and another foster family while waiting to see if her bio mom can change her life? What kind of life will she lead if bio mom holds it together long enough to get Boo back but then later returns to her past unsafe way of life? How will Snuggle Bug (and Ornozo and I) cope with loosing her if it comes to that?
And of course, there's the worry of money. We're the only one in this case having to pay legal fees. Our lawyer has told us it'll cost up to $20,000 to launch our own termination trial. Needless to say, we don't have that kind of money! We're hoping to arrange some fundraisers and ask for donations from family and friends to offset some of this cost.
My nightmare has come true and I'm still in shock!
Your prayers would be much appreciated! I'll update when I know more. Sorry for the lack of consistency but our world is in upheaval right now and blogging regularly is no longer a top priority. I hope you all understand!