I left work around noon to catch the train. Today is a court date–filled with a stomach twisting mixture of emotions. Each time we park the car and walk the dreaded few blocks through this sad part of town (the picture doesn’t do it justice), I feel a sense of dread, not just because of the long, drawn out case, but because I will be witness to other cases being played out in this building. Parents and kids, foster parents and foster kids, social workers, public defenders, court workers–the din of dysfunction and sadness of families in distress.
Court is scheduled for one o’clock, we arrive at one-forty-five. Having been here many times, we know that the schedule is just a ploy to ensure that none of the parties are late. As we busy ourselves with chatter or fiddling with phones or walking about, sometimes just to get away from the drama unfolding in the waiting room, the afternoon drags on. After a few hours the lack of information becomes a little unbearable. This is supposed to be a contested hearing. What that means is, the parties in the case cannot agree on a way to move forward. At other junctures when we were faced with this kind of hearing, when the parties didn’t agree, they generally fell into two camps which meant there was the possibility for comprise and achieving some midway point between the two opinions. This time we were fairly certain that there are at least three or more divergent opinions, the likelihood therefore of reaching any kind of backroom deal seemed out of reach. I tried not to play too many what-if games in my head, because there really is no logic to the decision-making that goes on, so the wide spectrum of possibilities can really twist your mind.
At close to four o’clock, T’s worker came looking for us. He explained that the hearing wasn’t scheduled properly and they were trying to figure out what to do—there was a possibility it would have to be rescheduled, but even in that there was a conflict between the parties. I began to pace after that. The thought of waiting a few more months before yet another hearing, even after all we have been through, was a bit hard to take. In addition there was talk of unsupervised visits—which under the circumstances seemed crazy, but not so crazy as anything else we had seen in the last three years. I think we had exhausted every busying thing we could do including small talk before T’s worker returned. He told us the hearing was being rescheduled six weeks out and that visits would remain the same—supervised. He assured us that Social Services would not bend on this point—visits would continue as they had been—one-hour, supervised, and not in the home.
You sometimes wonder how long this might go on. I don’t get angry as much, at least not like I used to. It seems ridiculous and really sad that everyone involved can be so nonchalant about it. The one bright spot, I think, is T’s worker. I think what happened over the summer has raised doubts in his mind about the safety of the kids and possibility of reunification. I think the gap between what’s best for the children and what is believed to be what’s best for the children in the eyes of Social Services might be narrowing. One can only hope.