We had court last week. It was just a status hearing but the psych eval on Sheila and trauma assessments on the children were being admitted to the record. Sheila almost no showed again. If we had started on time she would have missed the hearing entirely. As it was, we started 45 minutes late and she was 5 minutes later than that, so she walked in before too much information was shared.
The take away was that Bio Mom's prognosis is poor. According to the report, it is unlikely that she will be able to protect her children or stop being a victim of domestic violence and the recommendation was termination of parental rights. The judge once again said that there was no progress being made.
Thankfully, the judge took the most important piece of the kids' trauma assessments and commented that they need permanency very soon. She said that it was clear from the reports that if a permanent solution is not found soon, the children will suffer further trauma and that isn't in their best interest. She also said that this case has been in her courtroom for 11 years and we are basically in the same spot we were in the 1st time.
The States Attorney was speaking in "ifs". "The next permanency hearing is critical. If nothing is improved we will probably recommend a goal change of termination." And similar statements. She talked about a bunch of procedural stuff on the Dad's which makes me believe they are at the cross your t's, dot your I's stage.
Sheila ran out of court and briefly said hi passing us in the hall afterwards. The next day she called to set up a schedule for phone calls since she's been missing them. She even stated she wouldn't work that day so that she didn't miss the calls. She talked about focusing on her case and not on work. She talked about becoming an effective parent. It sounded like she was just mimicking the things she's been hearing at parenting class. (And I'm sorry but if you can't remember a 15 minute call with your kids once a week we have some bigger issues. Set an alarm on your phone if you have to.)
She asked for our house rules and wrote them down at the suggestion of Stella. (And this is where I hope the person observing them at the parenting class was paying attention. The 9 year old suggested Mom adopt rules because no one was taking turns. Said rules were offered to Mom months ago.)
All great things. But sadly, too late. The time for this full court press was last year. And even so, like the judge pointed out, this family has a long history with the system.
I listened. I tried to support without being condescending. I very clearly restated how serious the kids' mental health issues are. She would agree and then contradict the statements she was making, confirming for me that she doesn't really understand. I was glad she made statements like "my kids deserve my best". It will make it easier when they ask me later on in life if their Mom tried to get better. Our intentions are to keep her a part of their life with us, so I also tried to keep that in mind as I listened to the excuses she was giving me.
I'm still not ready to say we are for sure heading for adoption. I've heard too many stories of the goal not changing despite what everyone seemed to say. I'm just taking it one day at a time praying that the next three months don't contain a lot of drama. We have a lot of hard work to begin in therapy and my hope is that we get far enough along so that if the goal changes in the fall, the kids are better prepared. It is clear the Sheila has some major issues to work on and I don't see them getting resolved in three months.