“C is for cookie that’s good enough for me….”
C is for cookie or cat or car…or court. Today we are in court once again. It has been a long road—these last twenty-eight months. I haven’t had the inspiration or maybe it’s the emotion to write anything about what today’s hearing means for our little family. In some ways that is good, in that I am not drowning in fear or sadness that our foster son’s departure is eminent, but also I don’t feel particularly hopeful either—maybe also, not such a good thing. Maybe it’s ambivalence—not that I don’t care—but just a sense that there is no wide swing of emotions attached to this day.
It’s odd that I can be so calm about today. Maybe I’ve been at this too long and have become jaded; maybe I am just too battered and bruised to care; maybe the hope as well as the fear have always been dashed by the outcome the hearings; maybe the fact that so many variables will be in play this afternoon that I could not possibly imagine the outcome.
Today is a contested hearing—meaning at the last hearing no one could agree. This is supposed to be a trial where the parties hash things out in open court. The thing is, we have been here before, in a contested hearing early in 2009, but the contested part of the hearing never happened. It was back room bargaining and then another court date. Almost a year has passed since then. Would things be different now? I am not sure that time matters to anyone anymore.
The BCDSS case worker who is fairly new, appears rather dispassionate about the case and the children. Sometimes after talking to him, we are unclear about what he’s actually said. He is a student of verbal minimalism and talks in vagaries. There have been a few times when by inference he has passed information to us, but I hate having to read between the lines. He always wears his social worker mask which makes it hard to know whether he is friend or foe.
We have absolutely no relationship with the BCDSS attorney that will be in court today. While she is not new to the case, she has not been involved in over a year. Unlike the previous attorney who embraced us and our motion to intervene back in May, this attorney seems more comfortable keeping us at a distance. Unlike other BCDSS attorneys however, she has advised the new caseworker to open up to us more about the progress or lack thereof in the case.
The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) who has been following this case from the start, the one who called for the contested hearing today, has left the case. Our foster son now has a new GAL with no personal knowledge of the case other than what may be in the law firm’s case files. She has never met us nor any of the children. She is experienced in this area, having practiced in a nearby county and we have heard that she is more aggressive than the previous GAL, but until you see someone in action, you just have no idea.
We have a new attorney—actually attorneys. We felt that the time was right to again have counsel and even take some action during this hearing. It was a little less than a year ago that we asserted ourselves through a motion to intervene, but were unsuccessful. At this juncture in the case, there are options for us, the spectrum of which include stirring the pot as we did once before, to actions that would be the equivalent of dumping the pot over and watching all parties react. Though we anticipated some level of intervention, in a complex case such as this one, with so many variables, sometimes the most effective course of action is to take no action. Since our attorneys have spoken to all of the parties in the case, the specter that we may attempt some type of intervention is there, but as it turns we are holding what is the equivalent of a bluff in a card game.
This is a contested hearing and it’s the GAL’s to argue. By taking any action in that courtroom, we would be in effect, stealing the thunder out of the GAL’s case. We would become the focus instead of the person charged with advocating for our son. So our decision is to hold our bluff and hope that the knowledge that we have retained legal counsel once again, is enough to make certain that this is not about to be business as usual.