Friday, July 25, 2014

Permanency Conferences Be Like Whoa...

As I mentioned in this post, Trent and I attended a Permanency Conference (PC) this week as part of our kids' CPS case.

Here is what PCs are like:

Ok, I'm sure not all of them.  But this one at least was like...whoa...  I got over my jitters about sitting in a room with the kids' biological family just in time to begin wishing I could melt into the floor and disappear.

After very brief introductions (we can now say we have truly met their mom), Trent and I answered the moderator's questions for a whole four minutes or so about the kids' health, routine, well-being, etc, in our home.  We didn't say another word except "Yes" about half an hour later to the question "If the children cannot return home, would you be willing to adopt them?"   That was the extent of our participation.  I spent most of the meeting picking at my nail polish or staring at my lap as grim details were brought to light, tough questions were asked and some heated discussion took place. And there we were, two strangers sitting there hearing every single bit of it.  Part of me wanted to somehow vanish and let this family have their privacy during this intense meeting.   But the thing is...all semblance of privacy is shattered when CPS intervenes in your life and you end up having to hash out your history, failures and struggles in front of complete strangers.

Negatives from this meeting...

We lost a bit of faith in the kids' social worker, who is also the mom's social worker.  She's a sweet young woman but I think is a little naive about where all this is going.   She seems to think of Mom's service plan as a checklist..."do this, do that, get your kids back"...when there's a whole lot more involved than just those things.  We went into this meeting with a very chirpy, rosy view of where this was all going, based on the social worker, and were blindsided by how the meeting went.   Unfortunately, I think Mom was relying on chirpy social worker as well and thought she was doing awesome, then was also blindsided.  This makes me hurt for her.

Positives from this meeting...
We have a better knowledge of the big picture in this case and learned a lot of details that we did not previously know.  Some blanks about the kids' past were filled in.

We gained even more trust in the kids' attorney, which we already had plenty of to start with.  One of the kindest men you'll ever meet, but he means business when it comes to protecting children.

Questions about the kids themselves were answered in a happy, back and forth manner by us and Mom, with mutual smiles and laughter about certain quirks the kids have, things they are learning, etc.  We compared notes with her for a few moments about Sister having trouble keeping formula and food down when she was younger.

After the meeting, despite the tension during, we got to tell Mom what wonderful, sweet kids she has and she sincerely thanked us for taking care of them during this time.  This woman oozes with love for her children.

And to top it all off...
The meeting ended at 4, Trent and I stayed for a few more minutes to talk to the kids' attorney, per his request, then we had a bit of time to get over our shell shock and process what had just taken place before fetching the kids from daycare.  Head home, get dinner going, doorbell rings.

It was our FAD worker (our social worker, not the kids), there for an unannounced visit.

You may think this was an inconvenience after a stressful afternoon to have another CPS person in our home.  You would be wrong.  I opened the door and basically said "oh are we ever glad to see you."   You see, our FAD worker is there for us.  Yes, she's supposed to make sure our house is up to standards, medicine locked up, etc etc.  Yeah.  But she's also free counseling.   She is in no way officially connected to the kids' case and is simply there to make sure we are a) following the rules and b) not going insane.

She knew we had the PC that afternoon and came over that day on purpose to make sure we were alright (and to fulfill her monthly visit requirement).   Dear, sweet lady.  We proceeded to vomit our feelings at her, volleying back and forth between me and Trent.  She was ready for it though.  She encouraged us, bugged her eyes out along with us as we told her some of the stuff going on in this case, jiggled our gun safe and medicine cabinet locks and went on her merry way.  She also said she might come to the hearing next week with/for us.  What a gal.

In conclusion...

Text from a friend after the meeting: "Aghhhhhhh I can't imagine how y'all handle this.  I think I would just cry all the time."
Me:  You can't see the foot of thick skin that has grown on me since February...

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