- Termination of parental rights. Plan for adoption
- No Termination of parental rights. Send children home immediately
- Some other random solution out-of-the-blue (case extension, another delay at the courthouse, etc.)
Though we had our favorite solution, none of them would have been pain-free. The "random solution" would have caused this case to drag on more, more uncertainty, more delay for all involved. Clearly if the judge found parental rights were not to be terminated and the kids went home immediately, that would have crushed us.
I mentioned yesterday that the case had been mid-trial before a threat at the courthouse caused a week's delay. When I left after the day of testimony I honestly felt less-hopeful about whether the case would result in termination than I'd had at any other point in the case, I think, and that's saying something because I've had my doubts all along. I wasn't in the courtroom that day but it's what I felt in my heart. I walked into court after having experienced another week's worth of delays and a ton of things that made our life more difficult (sick, not sleeping baby getting 8 teeth all at the same time, for example) - though I tried to have faith and focus on God's will for my kiddos and our family in the forefront of my mind was that this was shaping up to be one of those times our kiddos left us. God has always provided a "difficult situation" before kiddos have left to help us be grateful for the peace after the children were gone. Most of them were illness related. I felt like I would be writing that post, that God had allowed difficult situations to invade our home to help make the transition of them leaving easier on us. The feeling wouldn't leave me.
I arrived at court late due to traffic. With a cold that was making me groggy. Since I was half-prepared to testify after the way the previous day ended (and upon hearing "maybe" from the AAL), I was worried about how I'd sound, being able to not clearly think, probably looking all nasty like one of the actors "with the flu" on a tissue commercial. Halfway to court I got a call from my hubby who should have been sleeping because the daycare called and a different child had started throwing up all over the place. Oh, and hubby started having tummy troubles too.
Nevertheless in the court house things started off well. We chatted for a good-long time about stuff. The kids. My sister and her kids. Jury duty. The weather (literally). It was enjoyable.
Then someone said "well this case better be called early or we won't get in at all - it's drug court day". I started to panic that we'd be reset. Again.
The bailiff called for check-in and simultaneously called our case into the courtroom to be heard. I initially sat out of the courtroom but then thought hey...worst they could do was kick me out...so I went inside and took a seat. I texted AAL to see if she needed me to testify - she replied "no". I asked if I could stay. Then she got called to the bench for another case and it took forever to get another reply.
I could stay.
I'm not going to get into the details of what I heard except to say that it was ESSENTIAL to this case that court had been delayed the week because of the threat the week before. There was a report people were waiting on that hadn't arrived yet and left some questions about the situation unanswered. BUT, because of the delay the results were received and additional evidence was able to be admitted. This evidence was crystal clear. I've been saying it "sealed the deal".
The judge ended up making two rulings. First, she ruled on baby baby because he was removed separately from his siblings and started this "newly reopened" case. The grounds were clear and abundant. The judge took the time to read each one aloud to the parents. Additionally there was abundant evidence that TPR was in his best interest.
Parental Rights Terminated.
With that in mind, the judge then ruled on the other three children. I wasn't sure where she was going to go - apparently the case for them was different than the case on the other three. Nevertheless because mom had just lost rights on baby baby, it helped make the argument that the rights for the other three should be terminated as well.
Parental Rights Terminated.
The judge then accepted the other parent's relinquishment. In doing so she complimented all involved for working out an arrangement where the kids could be safe and still have a relationship with this parent. She went on to provide strong words of affirmation to my husband and I (though she didn't know I was there) for our part in this case, the willingness to stick it out, the willingness to make the arrangement we did with the parent who relinquished.
At the end of the day we walked away with Parental Rights Terminated, adoption bound. I will say that the kids will not be "legally-free" for adoption until after a 90 day period during which the parent who lost rights involuntarily will have the opportunity to appeal. In addition relatives or fictive-kin have the opportunity to intervene in the case to try and gain custody preventing the adoption. We hope and pray these things don't happen. Our kids need permanency. It is a NEED for them (as with all kiddos but evidence was presented that one of my children "does not have another move" in him/her). It has been their repeatedly-expressed desire to stay with us forever. Though they're too young to really grasp the gravity of that statement, they have been steadfast in that desire with the likewise understanding they would not go to live with their birth parents ever again.
There is so much more I want to tell you. With the TPR granted I want to share how CRAZY this case was. I want to explain what has happened in the past year. All of the stuff we've gone through but I've been cautious to share because of how crazy this case has been. I will likely wait until the 90 days is up before I share as much as I'd like but if you have questions please email mie or put it in a comment so I can remind myself to address it.
In the end our feelings were very mixed. Please pray for the 90 days to be smooth and short. Please also pray for our kids' birth parents. Regardless of the situation that led us to this point yesterday was extremely hard on them, and I'm sure time will heal some but not all and it would be a long time in healing. They love their children. They didn't want this to happen. I cried with them both yesterday. It sucks. I cried for my kids to have this in their history. Even though it was what we wanted and what we still want and even though it moves us toward adoption and even though our kids were thrilled when we told them last night, we don't wish them well and the trauma is not taken lightly.