Skip to main content

Anatomy of Termination

I'm not sure where to begin. We arrived in court with my Mom in tow. We were told Bio Dad wasn't coming and that Sheila was still saying she would sign the surrender. She found us in the hallway and invited us to sit with her and the caseworker. 

She said she was really glad we came. We were finally called in 2 hours 20 minutes after the call time. The special prosecutor looked nervous and like she had no clue about what was going on. The attorney for DCFS was super annoyed with her and kept correcting her and the GAL for CASA was basically mite until the last few minutes in the court room.

While we were waiting for the judge to get to everything, Sheila started to cry as she had just finished signing the surrender. I couldn't help myself. I reached my arm around her to comfort her. The words "you have to treat her like one of the kids in your home" echoing in my head. It was really, really sad.

The judge called her to the front and made sure 8 different ways that she knew what she was doing by signing the identified surrender. The paperwork names Hubby and I and if for some reason we don't adopt the kids her rights are reinstated, but only in some specific instances. If we divorce I can still adopt the kids and if one of us dies the other can still adopt.

It was incredibly sad to watch as it seemed like way too much repeatition about "this is irrevocable and final". And since there were 4 kids, 4 sets of papers were signed and the judge had to go through each of them. She was crying, her attorney was trying not to cry. The judge commended her for her decision and told her it showed she loves her kids.

I couldn't believe it was actually happening. She returned to sit beside me- I asked if she wanted a hug she told me no and I handed her the card we had gotten for her the last time we had court. 

Her attorney told her she could stay but she didn't have to. And the court proceeded to the TPR trial for the dads.  If it was my kids' permanency at stake I might have laughed at the incompetency of the attorneys sitting in front of me.. I swear it was the special prosecutor's first day. She kept mixing up the names of the fathers and the kids. Her questions didn't make sense, the DCFS attorney kept telling her to stop her line of questioning. At one point when asking the casework to give testimony about Bio Dad's fitness as a parent, she asked how often visits were. She answered weekly and the attorney moves on, never asking how many he actually showed for, which would have been 1/2.

It was at that point that Sheila left. And I watched on the edge of my seat to see if the minimal argument the state made about Dad not competing any service plans was going to be enough. His attorney said, obviously he cares some he sent gifts and visited (but it's kind of hard to argue if the guy never showed up and wasn't standing there). DCFS argued gifts and concern don't make a parent and I said "amen" under my breath.

It was enough to TPR and while he has the righ to appeal, I doubt that he will.  But I couldn't believe how unprofessional the prosecutor seemed and I wanted to give her an impassioned- there are lives hanging in the balance if you screw up, but I didn't.

They terminated on all the dads and held the best interest hearing (a seperate step to ensure that the adoption is the right thing for the kids) and that was ruled in their best interest. Then we had the shortest permanency hearing ever it went like this:

DCFS attorney: Can we go ahead and change the permanency goal to adoption
Judge: Yes lets do that. It is so ordered.

Then the DCFS attorney got all huffy when the GAL finally spoke up and asked for his motion that the therapy team be given the authority and discretion to decide what visits with Mom and Baby should be going forward. The DCFS attorney was all we have policies and I don't think the court should dive that deep and of course we will look at their best interest and the judge said: I've had this case 10 years, I'm going to take a little leeway and I remember when the kids started seeing the therapists and I believe they have made unbelievable progress and I defer to them to keep the kids going in the same direction. Quite frankly, I see their point and it makes a lot of sense to me.

If I could have hugged her, I would have. So the therapists have to recommend further visits and DCFS can't force the visits without the therapists being on board.

A permanency hearing was set for next February and we were free to go.

That part was somewhat anticlimactic. This huge monumental change so long in the making and we just walked into the hallway.

My Mom was there and I started to tear up, I said the goal is adoption and she hugged me. She said, it's been such a long journey, five years, and you are that much closer.
We planned a movie for the kids. I picked them up from camp and we had a family meeting. We told them we went to court, they asked if their Mom signed, we confirmed and they cheered. We also told them about their baby sister and that the baby was not living with Mom. Stella asked why couldn't her Mom just give the baby to us and Sarah got angry that her Mom is trying to work the case plan. (That whole thing is a sticky wicket. You want the kid to feel better and tell her it's not likely her Mom will get there but you also don't want to bash her Mom either. Plus you want her not to be jealous of a baby.)

And then we went to the movies and we were all relaxed. We had some time to wait outside for the theater to be ready. Simon was studying the below movie poster. He said: "Mom, is that movie about Foster care? Because that's how I feel. I was lost and now I'm found. Adoption feels like being found."

Amen, my sweet, sweet boy, amen.

If you would, take a moment and pray for Sheila. Her heart is hurting and she doesn't have anyone to share this hurt with. For as much as this is the right thing, she's a lot like my kids and they are a part of her and I hope she can find a way to heal.


  1. I was holding my breath for that entire post. Amen is right.

  2. I've been reading here forever and don't think I've ever commented. Like the gal above me, I too was holing my breath the whole post. Have said SO many prayers for you for so long now. Amen.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

She Never Cried

Sheila called to wish Sarah Happy Birthday and she shared a story with her that as a baby she never cried. Not when she was hungry, not when she was tired, never. She never cried.
A little later Sarah said to me:
"Mom, my Mom said I never cried. I don't really believe that. That can't be true can it? Don't all babies cry sometimes?"
Oh my sweet girl. The red flag went up for her too. As I listened to Sheila share this story fondly, I felt sad. That was a sign of her RAD. That was because she couldn't count on adults. That was because she cried and no one came so she learned not to cry.
"It doesn't sound right to you, does it?"
"I know your Mom shared that story because she thinks it's cute you never cried. It made me sad. You are right babies cry so adults take care of them. You know how you had a lot of different adults that were supposed to take care of you as a baby?"
"Yeah, like 10 foster parents."
"Well …

Minimum Parenting Standards - Monday's Post

I can't figure out Blogger's time zone and I may not have time to write Monday evening so here is Monday's post.

This week we are having another "team" meeting. This time to discuss the "minimum parenting standards" that the kid's Mom has to meet in order to be "good enough" to parent them.

Now I have all kids of issues with this entire exercise. The first being that these kids deserve better than the minimum. The second, that good enough isn't going to cut it with their issues. The hardest part though is being asked to write down a guide to being their parent FOR their parent. Putting my commitment to first reunify a family to the test. It is one thing to suggest ways in which she can be a better parent and to support the goal by not bad mouthing her and encouraging the kids to share their true feelings. It is an entirely different thing to sit down and write a guide for a woman who has yet to grasp the basics after two years.

It wa…

Reader Question: Did You change their names?

Yes we did. We actually started using their new names shortly after their good bye visit with Sheila last August. So the only name that really changed this week was their last name (kind of, one of them actually had our last name). We had started using them so we wouldn't have to try to do a name change mid-school year. Plus the kids had only been in the school the last 1/2 of the year so they didn't know everyone yet. The school was great about going with the new first names.
At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names. 
The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". W…


I had some questions asked of me recently that I thought I would answer here:

1) How do you keep doing this after so much crap?
I actually had two different foster moms ask me this. One dealing with a false allegation and one in a kinship case with a pregnant, unstable bio mom.

I'm not sure I have an eloquent answer to this question. I think I've reached a point where I see the bigger picture - the kids.  That's not to say this stuff doesn't drive me nuts or make me emotional. I would be spitting fire if we had to deal with a false allegation. I'm really upset about the potential of having to make a decision about another baby. But if not me, who? We are good at this. There are kids that need me. And I probably need them. I am a caretaker by nature.  What would I be doing with myself if I didn't have 15 different obligations all at once? I have no idea because I've always been this way. And right now all of the current drama is related to my children. I s…

It is a process

It's a physical ache. A pain in the middle of my chest.  And it causes hot tears, the kind that sting my eyes.  It settled over me today and I couldn't shake it.

It started with news that more people in our lives are expecting and today, I just couldn't muster the happiness.  I heard complaints of not feeling well and my ability to plaster the smile on my face just vanished from my body. I left the house to "run an errand" but really I just needed an escape.

All week I've been able to communicate and tell people about Solana leaving without any trouble.  I probably sounded like a PSA for "How to be the role model foster parent".

People were asking:

So will you get to adopt the little one? Is she staying?

Well no, actually.  She is going home in a few weeks. That's the goal of foster care. We are really happy for her dad. He really gets it. We've built a relationship. I'm so glad she doesn't have to go through the pain of adoption or …