I'm sitting at Starbucks by myself. Trent made me come here. Turns out I'm a lot like my mother in that I go, go, go and do, do, do and surrounding loved ones have to say "lady, take a break. For real." So here I am.
Ok, our kids' CPS case. What's going on? If you're hoping for actual details of why they came into care, the state of their parents, what said parents are supposed to do to get them back, how they are doing with that, etc, sorry. That's waaaaay too confidential for the interwebs. But I can update you on some logistical steps that are coming up in the case and then check back after they have happened to update you on how things like Permanency Conferences and court hearings go. And those are indeed what are coming up.
This week we will attend a Permanency Conference at the CPS office. This is viewed as a "team meeting" of sorts and includes the foster parents, biological parent(s), CPS social worker and that worker's supervisor. I'm not entirely sure if attorneys are present, but I kind of think they just stick with official court hearings. According to the invitation letter we received, "the purpose of a Permanency Conference is to discuss the child(ren)'s safety and well being and the plan to achieve permanency for the child(ren) in the most efficient and effective way. The conference will focus on the family's strengths and their desires to protect their child(ren) within their family by sharing the responsibility for the child(ren)'s safety." Permanency means either reunification with their parent(s) or adoption, either way, just not sitting in foster care anymore.
You know about as much of what to expect as we do. (Unless, of course, you are a veteran foster parent who has attended one of these meetings.) Our plan is to show up and shut up until we are called upon to speak. Should be interesting. I'm pretty sure our role at the meeting will be to contribute information about the day to day well being of the children, how they are doing, what they are learning, how their health is, how they behave after parent visits, etc. If the children in the case are old enough, they are encouraged to attend and participate in this meeting as well. But ours are lil babies so they'll keep toodling around at daycare. Overall, should be very interesting since we are expected to be a participant in this meeting, unlike the court hearing coming up.
Next week there will be an official court hearing for this case. Foster parents are always invited to attend hearings, but are rarely required to, unless they are needed to testify about the well being of the children or information that the children have told them that relates to the case. Considering neither of our kids talk and the social worker and attorney ad litem can sufficiently chime in on the kids' well being in this situation, we will not be called upon or even acknowledged. We didn't attend the first two hearings, partly because we were scared and overwhelmed by our new placement, partly because we were just busy juggling parenting and tax season and partly because not a whole lot was known at those earlier dates, so we wouldn't have gleaned much from attending. But now, we've been in this for almost half a year, so we'd rather have first hand knowledge of how things are goin' down instead of a social worker report. Plus, we're not scared anymore.
The way court hearings work (in our county at least) is that you show up at 9 am and wait for your case to be called. There's no real order or schedule. That scene from Angels In The Outfield where they're sitting bored in the courthouse is accurate. So, we asked off work and shall bring a book to read while we wait. Court hearings include biological parent(s), the CPS social worker (who, we recently found out, usually represents both the children and the parents, which we feel is a conflict of interest but you know, crazy system), the attorneys who represent CPS, the parents and the children (at least they all have their own attorney), and of course, the judge. If the children in the case are old enough, they'll usually attend, especially if their direct input or opinion about their situation would be helpful to the case.
We're 6 months into this placement, so at this court hearing, their mom's progress will be evaluated and there will be more indication of which direction this is going.
And on a lighter note...Birthdays!!!
In a few days, we will have a 2 year old and two weeks later we will have a 1 year old. Their visit with their mom each of those weeks will be moved from Monday to their actual birthday so she can see them on their birthday. I'm super glad that worked out. We're going to have a little party for them at our house and...I gotta figure out what I'm supposed to take to daycare! Do you send cupcakes for a 1 year old? How about just some little favors for her "friends"?