I’m not sure how or whether to write this post. I’ve decided that it’s worth writing, that it is worth continuing the story for me, for you and maybe someday for him. I have always believed that whatever happens, will be what was meant to be–fate, the flow or whatever you want to call it. The assumption has never been that we would settle into passivity–that what will happen, will happen whether we do anything or not. No. We will always play a part in our own fate and the fate of our son. Beyond that, after we have done our part, then the rest lies beyond our control.
We have done everything asked of us as foster parents. We have gone way beyond the call of duty when it comes to parenting and care-giving. We do that because we both love being dads and because we love our son. We have put up with the ineffective, the inefficient, and even the ugly and nasty that the foster care system has thrown at us. We have been willing to help with the transition of our foster son back to his parents when it seemed like that was the way things were going to go. Then we put up with the suggestions tossed our way that he may not be going home. And through it all we sought to do right by him–whatever that was. Now we find ourselves at a crossroads, something that we never planned, or I think that I ever imagined. Having crossed the fifteen month milestone and closing in on eighteen months that our son has been in our care–the tide is turning. That is not to say that everyone is on board with the tide. There are definitely those who are swimming against it, some stubbornly, others maybe because they have been caught off guard.
In January, we sat patiently in the lobby of the court house waiting for the hearing to begin. It had snowed the night before and there was some concern that the hearing might not be held. Ultimately there was a delay and even though a number of people didn’t make it, the hearing went on, but not without a few twists and turns. Upon being called into the courtroom it became apparent that both parents were agitated. As we passed by they seemed to flash their anger in our direction. Our relationship had always been cordial, maybe a little awkward but never hostile. We had hoped to work with them during the transition to help them understand T’s medical needs, but more importantly, before he returned home, we wanted them to get to know the son who had lived most of his live apart from them. Instead we were faced with feeling the fire from their glances at us. It is still unclear why the sudden flare of hostility. Our belief now is that the actions of our foster son’s Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in court were reflected upon us.
The GAL was unwilling to allow the case to go on with another continuance as advocated by the lawyers for the parents and BCDSS. He had decided to challenge the permanency plan in a contested hearing. He had forewarned us the day before that that was his plan. His belief was that, after all this time without the case getting resolved, it was in our foster son’s best interest to move towards the termination of parental rights (TPR).
It has always been clear to everyone that we would absolutely adopt our son if given the opportunity. Maybe the challenge by the GAL along with the discussion behind the scenes that what was in our son’s best interest was to be placed with us permanently–maybe that was communicated to the parents. When we finally made it before the judge, one of the attorneys for the parents attempted to have us removed from the courtroom. The Judge refused since we had the right by law to be at permanency plan hearings. She pressed the judge several times before making him angry and rejecting her motion.
Whatever the case, it is a new ballgame. We realize now that even if we could repair the relationship with his parents–which I have no idea how that would happen–that even if we did, BCDSS has no interest in utilizing us to help our son’s transition back to his parents if that ends up happening. We have never been included in any “team” meetings with his parents or in the design of any plan for the transition, because, well there doesn’t seem to be one. So at this point whether his parents see us as a resource to help them or see us as the enemy, it doesn’t really matter. And since it doesn’t matter that leads us to the next phase of the story. We are now seeking legal counsel. We realize that the shit is now hitting the fan and it makes no sense at all to sit back and watch the rest unfold before us.
We were able to get a referral from some friends for a lawyer very familiar with this territory. As it turns out there is a lot we can do. Hopefully at the next hearing we will no longer be outsiders just hoping to be allowed to stay in the courtroom. If all goes well we will be a party in the case. There is fear in venturing here. Are we being too meddlesome? Is this beyond the scope of what we should be doing as foster parents? Are we essentially going into what feels like a battle? Is this something we will be able to explain to our son when he is older–that we took these actions because we wanted his situation resolved? Will we win the battle but lose the war?
Neither of us has much of a stomach for going down this path, but the time has come. There are three things that have ultimately brought us to this point. I think the motion by the GAL to change the permanency plan helped us understand that someone besides us, believes that something needs to change, that this has gone on too long. Second, after the attempt to have us removed from court the last time, I think we both realized that we were vulnerable. Finally, it’s time for the two parents who have raised him for most of his life, with whom he shares a deep and loving bond–it’s time for them not only to be heard but to have a say in what happens to this little boy.