I have become wary of the courtroom where we go for our CPS hearings. It's an unassuming place, part of the local juvenile detention center. The guard at the door looks bored as you walk through the metal detector, a contradiction to the fluttering, heightened emotions of birth parents, foster parents and other invested or overworked players entering the building. The blah rows of gray chairs in the waiting area don't do a dang thing to offer privacy to the huddled confidential conversations happening outside the courtroom between parents, foster parents, caseworkers, attorneys...
And you never know what is going to happen inside that courtroom. Even if you know what is supposed to happen, you don't know if it will actually happen or end up postponed and delayed.
In early December we expected the judge to tell our whole case to move in the direction of mediation and relinquishment, but then our kids' first mom ended up relinquishing her rights that day.
In early January, we expected to show up to sign the Mediated Settlement Agreement outlining post-adoption contact (more on that later) and have it approved by the court, but it was not even written yet, so we were postponed a week.
The next week, we expected to show up and take care of that, but, even though the document was written, it had not yet been signed by the kids' mom, who was not present. We turned to "believe it when we see it" mode and somewhere in the following interim, the document was brought to our house for us to sign and was approved in court. We didn't show up for that one.
At the end of March, we expected the parental rights of one of the kids' dads to be terminated based on sufficient period of nonresponse from him. That is literally the only thing left between us and an adoption. We passed by the bored metal detector guy, sat in the blah gray chairs, pretended not to hear confidential conversations happening all around us, then entered the courtroom and waited our turn...only to hear attorneys tell the judge "we just need a postponement." We were shocked. The kids' caseworker was shocked. We were angry. I fought tears. What the hell happened to termination and moving to adoption?!?
At the time, all we learned was that the one administrative task needed to properly terminate this dad's rights even with him not around to have a say, was not done. It's a task that involves a waiting period of almost two months, so it's not something quickly corrected. We have since found out that the District Attorney's office decided to try one more time to locate him and alert him to the CPS case via mail, or "serve" him, which was unsuccessful. So now we must wait for them to carry out "service by publication", an outdated sounding practice where they basically post ads in newspapers where they think the person is that pretty much say "Hey, if your name is so-and-so and you think you have a child born on such-and-such date, you are party to a CPS case in this-n-that county. If you are interested in this child, please contact so-and-so." If the person is not heard from in a certain number of days, CPS can say "we tried" and the parent's rights can be terminated even though they may have no clue.
So. Yeah. Blah blah blah. We thought we were waiting out that certain number of days in February and March, but apparently we weren't. So it starts over now. The court hearing to accomplish what was supposed to be accomplished March 31st is now going to take place mid July. Our adoption that we thought would happen probably in May will now take place more like September. Or sometime.
How do we feel about this?
Eh. We're kind of resigned to it by this point, a month later, but at the time, we were shocked, then confused, then angry, then sad. Then I cried on my way back to work, which apparently is just part of court days it seems since they've all been intense since December. Our babies don't know a thing about all this going on, but if this was a couple of ten or eleven year olds who thought adoption season was about to begin, they would be crushed. I posted something sarcastic and angsty on facebook about drowning our sorrows and Uncle Joey made the best point of the day and set me (mostly) at ease.
"No sorrows. They didn't stop calling you mama today."