Email from our kids' caseworker, 2/3/15:
The MSA and relinquishment form [the kids' mom] signed have been filed with the court and her rights have been terminated. Next and final hearing will be 3/31/15.
Me: Did you see [caseworker]'s email?
Trent: Yeah. I cried.
Me: Me too.
Trent: I got it right before class. I shared it with the class and we all prayed about [the kids' mom] and the kids.
Well folks, our kids' first mom is officially no longer their mom anymore. Though she relinquished her rights back in December, it was pending the approval of a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) between her and us as adoptive parents, regarding contact between her and the kids after adoption is finalized. Yes, we are headed for an open adoption. But more on that later. Getting the MSA worked up and signed by everyone involved was a nightmare because we did not do formal mediation. More on that later too. We had two hearings postponed because it wasn't ready (not our fault) and finally by the third hearing, early this month, the thing was approved and signed by all parties to the agreement. Oof. By that time we were in "believe it when we see it" mode and didn't haul our busy butts over to the court, just waited for an update from the caseworker.
So now we are sort of in waiting mode. Their mom still has her monthly visit until the case is transferred to the adoptions unit of CPS, which will happen in April after the final hearing. The only thing left to resolve in the case overall is to wait out the appropriate time of nonresponse from one of the kids' dads so his rights can be terminated by the court even though he hasn't shown up to the situation at all. After the right steps have been taken to find the person and drum up interest in the child, CPS can say "hey we tried" and the court can go ahead and terminate rights so that permanency can be found for that child otherwise.
The end seems to be in sight. But we thought in October things might wrap up in a matter of weeks (haha funny joke). And we thought in December that this entire case would be closed and moved to the adoptions unit by the one year mark of the beginning of the case, February 5th, but that came and went with an extension of the case granted. So we're just sitting tight and waiting this out. There aren't any more foreseeable curveballs to be had but, once again, we though that in December and got hit with a whopper in January.
After the case is transferred to the adoptions unit, it's just a matter of getting everything in place for an adoption hearing. CPS may want to do some updates to our license and home study, but nothing major. We are already fully dual licensed as a foster-to-adopt home so there's nothing notable we'd have to do. As far as how long it takes between the transfer of the case and an adoption being finalized? Not sure. Could be real quick, could be a few more months. We figure we're headed for an adoption hearing sometime this summer.
I know I haven't written much about all this as it has unfolded, and I'm ok with that. While I do want to inform and update, I don't feel like I owe the world a detailed play by play of this very personal, very important time in our family's story. I'll continue to write some more general posts about the nuts and bolts of this process and where we are headed, but for now, here's where we're at.