The hearing was originally set for 9 am (and by that I mean it was set to happen at some point in the morning's line up, as opposed to the afternoon's) across town. Trent and I dropped the kids off at daycare and decided to use the interim time for a breakfast date at Cracker Barrel which is right by the juvenile center where family court happens. While waiting for our eggs, biscuits, etc, I got a text from the social worker:
"Today's hearing has been pushed back to 1:30 to accommodate one of the attorneys."
Can't say I was surprised. Word on the street is that this is pretty typical for things to get pushed around at a moment's notice. We finished our breakfast date and went back across town to work. Tax returns, youth ministry, blah blah blah, back across town to court.
The judge called another case first, but someone was not present that needed to be. Then he called another case, but someone was still filling out some paperwork or something. Then he called our case. The social worker took the stand, gave her report and answered questions from all three attorneys (representing CPS/Texas, the children, the mom). The kids' mom also took the stand and answered questions. CPS was given some tasks. The judge set the next hearing for December. And we were dismissed. The whole thing lasted not even half an hour. Remember from this post, that foster parents are always welcome to attend court hearings, but rarely required to. We did not have any official role in the hearing. We were simply observers.
Also the kids' attorney wore a periwinkle blazer. The man just keeps raising himself higher and higher in our esteem...
We didn't really learn anything we didn't already know from the Permanency Conference last week or from correspondence with the social worker and kids' attorney. And we didn't really get any definitive sense of which direction this is going. You'd think that six months into a case it would be clear, but no. I think the hearing in December is where the judge will say either "We will reunify the children with their mom, start working on that transition" or "We move to terminate parental rights, start looking for a permanent alternative". The overall goal is to have this case wrapped up one direction or the other by early February, a year from when the kids were first brought into care.
So there you have it. A super vague update on how court goes. I wasn't surprised by the lack of answers at this point and was pretty sure that would be the result of today. "Here's where things stand, see you in four months. Ok bye."
After the hearing, Trent skidaddled back to his teenagers. I could've gone back to work for a couple hours but knew I wouldn't be productive so I decided to take care of a few upcoming birthday party related errands. As I left the hearing, the gravity of this entire situation once again began to settle heavy onto my heart, as it periodically does.
My heart aches for this woman. She's trying to be a mother to these children and I'm the random lady who gets to in the meantime. I'm the stranger who sat in the courtroom and watched her answer attorneys' tough questions then drove to the grocery store to order cakes for her children's birthday party which she cannot attend. The juxtaposition of my afternoon left me flipping through the cake catalog with tears in my eyes.
The one emotion that has risen to the surface the most lately is not worry or disgust or anger. It's sadness.
How did we all get here?
How did this young mother end up in such a situation?
How could she have been supported and all this prevented?
Who failed her along the way?
I don't know...
So for now it's courtrooms and attorneys, tough questions and few answers.
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