For those of you who like details :)...
We were blessed enough to have our friends Jon and Dana with us last night to pray with us and stay with us last night AND go with us this morning along with my parents and Lani watched the girls for us despite a ridiculously early morning! Thank you all for your text messages, fb comments and messages and just the never ending stream of support! You are all appreciated!
So... we got to the court house an hour early but I'm so glad we were early! Other than the fact that it was FREEZING I was able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing we were there and ready to go! I could tell mom knew the department's recommendations immediately when she walked in. Her whole demeanor had changed from yesterday but she was still sweet and polite as usual. I genuinely like her... I think we were waiting for about an hour but having grand fun with Jon and Dana! Mom was on the other side of the room as far as she could get from us and she had her own support system.
When we were called we went in and it all happened so fast! The court read that the recommendation was to terminate and set a 2-6 hearing and I think she asked the counsel if they agreed. Dora's lawyer agreed and basically outlined a bunch of reasons why, including... her speech improvement, the stimulating environment of our home, her improvement in behaviors and he said "she's absolutely thriving" in our home and he acknowledged mom's great improvement but said that he still believes that it is Dora's long-term interest to move forward and terminate. (yay! Answer to prayer! because we didn't know what his position was going to be!) Of course mom's lawyer contested it and the judge moved forward to set the date for next Friday at 1:30. We had never met Dora's lawyer before but he came over to us twice to tell us that he was going to fight for Dora to stay with us and he wanted to make us de facto parents. I know the next question is what is a de facto parent and why is it so important. I'm still working on that question. I'm not sure I completely understand it yet but as I understand it it means that we're acting in the role of parent and we are bonded with her as her parents. Something like that. It's important because the court is recognizing us as such and also giving us the right to be part of and present at the hearings. We can now be represented by a lawyer if we choose to. So anyway once we are named de facto parents we're no longer helpless bystanders. Yay! (Praise the Lord for another answered prayer but it's still a prayer issue for this upcoming week). So I know you'll ask. Are we going to get a lawyer? I don't know! I'm not really sure that it's going to be helpful enough to make it worth the insane cost! Right now Dora's lawyer is the one with all the clout and he's going to be fighting so I think that we're well represented right now and really since we're not the ones in question it's really not useful to have one at this point.
Next Friday is going to be a SUPER important TRIAL!!! It's not just a hearing. It's a full blown trial! BOTH sides are going to be duking it out and the department will be proving that they've done everything possible to reunify. I'm just counting on the fact that they knew that this would be coming and they wouldn't have recommended termination if they didn't have a good case for it. Also, mom's parent parter (because I know you want to know... I just got of the phone with my social worker and she told me what this is! It's a parent who has been through the system successfully and reunified with their children permanently. They are then hired by the court to come alongside and be a mentor/buddy to the parent and support them through the process. They would have more information than anyone on what's really going on). Ok. He was sitting a couple chairs away from me an during the hearing he turned to me and told me that we were going to be ok. He knows something and my social worker said that that was a really good little clue for us.
I'm sorry but I'm totally wearing out! Let's see if I can finish this up and still get my point across. I'm just worn out from today!
The hearing began and then it ended. It was over in probably five minutes and we were left feeling like what just happened?? I feel like we are in a really good position. I feel like the lawyer and social workers are going to bat for us and most of all I feel like God is on our side and His will WILL prevail! I'm feeling confident but I won't let up for a moment in my prayer life. We have won the first encounter but we have the battle ahead of us. At the end when we were walking out of the court house we saw mom sitting there by herself looking sad and I went to her and gave her a hug and told her I was praying for her. I really feel for her.
So.. here's what we're looking at
Contested hearing November 4th at 1:30
If everything goes in our favor the termination hearing comes next 120 days later.
After that comes the appeal within 30 days
After that we can schedule our adoption hearing.
Just know that there are always appeals. They can continue to appeal and appeal so we still have a long process ahead of us.
Keep praying! Pray for the lawyers and the social worker and the judge. I need to remember to tell Dora's lawyer about my visit with mom in case that was a trap to get me to be in non-compliance with the courts without me knowing and to tell him about my on-going relationship with Cinderella's birth mom because it shows that we won't just run when the adoption is final that we have a history of following through with maintaining a relationship with the birth family.
Whew! I'm going to rest now! If I think of more later I'll add more then! Thank you all for your prayers!!!