A few days ago, we had the status hearing for Lil Sis.
Each and every interaction with the "officials" on this case becomes even more of an exercise in frustration. This whole system is maddening & dealing with it will take years off your life.
I got there right at our appointment time, but the CW wasn't there yet. When he did finally show up, his report had all the usual stuff, basically saying that no progress has been made on the service plan because the mother in incarcerated. However, it also included a paragraph stating the Lil Sis is not adjusting to her current placement, etc. The way it was worded read as if her emotional issues lately are due to the fact that she is placed with US & that she doesn't want to be here.
In case anyone is thinking that I'm just being overly sensitive, or reading into things that aren't there, the judge interpreted it the same way. So, where I thought I was going to a hearing to find out where Lil Sis's case was headed, I was now standing before the judge having to defend myself & answer to why I was being blamed for her sudden emotional outbursts (which, for those wondering, have leveled off).
I explained to His Honor that the issue was not the placement, but the grief from the last fosters' refusal of transition or contact. He, of course, had never been informed about the manner that this had been handled (because, why would DHS disclose such vital information to the person who ultimately approves or rejects their decisions!?). So, I briefly explained how she had been told she was coming for a visit, only to be moved without warning, with strict instructions that I not contact them. "I'm sure that made it a lot easier on THEM...", he said, clearly exasperated.
I further explained why it took so long for her to understand that she was not returning to her former foster home and how her therapist is trying to help her learn to process her grief. Upon hearing all of this, the ADA was furious & demanded that DHS look into whether the home is still licensed and, if so, to close their certification as a resource home. Given how little he does on the cases that are actually assigned to him, I highly doubt that the CW will follow through on this.
Another thing that bothered me about the hearing is the fact that the grandmother's counselor was present at the hearing. These hearings are supposed to be closed hearings, for confidentiality purposes. The CW told me, after last time, that he would formally object if Gma or her counselor tried to attend again. Gma was not allowed to have an ISP & grandparents have no rights in this state. Therefore, she has absolutely no legal rights to any information given in these hearings. While I understand that she has concerns, I feel that, at this point, Lil Sis's right to privacy should take precedence. Add to that the fact that she did this same thing with Beautiful's case, resulting in DHS stretching the case out much, much longer than they should have. In fact, her over-involvement in that case likely contributed to Lil Sis not being taken into care one of the many times they considered it as an infant...and then they let Gma take her as part of a "safety plan", despite her prior child endangerment convictions & the fact that she had been determined unfit by multiple counties in the state.
I mentioned the fact that the counselor should not be allowed in the courtroom to CW, who declined to say anything. I brought the issue up with the judge, but he never made an official ruling on it, probably because no official legal changes or ruling were being proposed at that hearing.
We won't have another review until February. The CW SAYS that, if her mother is still in jail or has not made progress on her plan by then, he will be asking to move for termination of her parental rights. As far as I am aware, she is still in therapeutic seclusion in the prison. No one is certain how or if this will affect any attempt to terminate her rights. State law makes it difficult to terminate rights on a parent that is found to be incompetent. The exception is if two doctors will state that the condition is permanent & will not respond to treatment. This certification can be extremely difficult to get. This is why, when asked if I plan to adopt her, I have no answer. There are so many variables, at this point, that I can't even let my mind go there.
Her sister's case took 3 years AFTER the finding that "active efforts to reunite have failed" (the finding they give & then schedule the tpr trial). We had tpr trial scheduled three different times & had the case restarted from square one. So, adoption is just way too far to be looking down the road. Right now, my priority is to help her with the issues she's facing now & whatever may come down the road. If she even becomes legally free, I will decide, at that point, if we are the best permanent home for her. At this point, I don't see any reason to believe that she would be better served in another family. However, there are so many things that could happen or change between now & then (like, say, a failed reunification) that no final decision can be made this early in the game.