I believed the December 2nd hearing would mark the beginning of the end of our days with T. His parents had little left to do on their service plan after the August hearing, and it was hard to imagine that the irest would not/could not be done in four months. Since, at summer’s end, they had done what seemed to be the hardest task, it made complete sense to me that DSS would move things along to the next step – the transition home.
It took some time for me to get some emotional distance from the August hearing, but by November, I had taken some comfort with the idea that the parents’ recent achievement might have signaled a change in them. I let myself believe they were making things right and were going to do for their kids what they should have been doing all along. I thought maybe they were finally pulling it together to get their kids back.
And their kids should be back with them. The family should be waking and sleeping together. The family should be going on shopping trips to the mall. They should be visiting grandma’s house less than a half hour away. T should be fighting his sisters for the TV remote control so he can watch Thomas the Tank Engine for the upteenth time. He should learn how to throw a football to his father or go fishing for the first time. They should all be laughing, loving and learning together.
So it came as a big surprise when T’s attorney told us the situation would remain as-is – T still in our care, supervised visits, no transition process yet. Because the parents were making “adequate progress”, he thought it likely that the Master would agree to have another review hearing in six months.
As we pressed him for more information about their “adequate progress” and as we reminded him of the what/when/how-much progress over the past 25 1/2 months, it became clear that “adequate progress” was probably not the appropriate term.
You would think my first reaction to that news would be relief, but it was all I could do to bite back “What the fuck? Are you serious?”. How could they not be done? What is going on that even the simplest of tasks takes months – hell, over half a year – to complete?
As Juan and I left the courthouse, we walked by T’s mother and father sitting on one of the waiting area benches. The mother looked through and past us. The father was leaning forward, holding his head in his hands. He didn’t bother to look up. Had I been feeling empathetic, I might have interpreted his body-language as that of a man greatly affected by a trying ordeal. Instead, I was just disappointed and annoyed.
It wasn’t until I started writing this post (and in typical fashion, I’ve been working on this one for days) that I realized that Wednesday is not the first time I’ve felt this way toward the father. I’ve been expecting something of him for a while now. I’ve had it in my head that, for T’s sake, his father needs to step up, take responsibility and be there for his son, but, as each hearing comes and goes, I see another opportunity for T’s father to make things right pass by. Two-plus years, 8 hearings and 2 birthdays with a third on the way and little has changed.
Given my desire to be in T’s life, I know it seems paradoxical to say this, but I do believe T deserves better from his parents. He deserves better from his father.