I've been meaning to give you an update on our foster son and where we are with his case for some time now. We've had some new developments since my last update a few months ago. As of today, baby boy has been with our family for 14 months. It's hard to believe it's been that long. He has come so far and blossomed into this precious, sweet and happy little boy since we first welcomed him into our family. I still remember the very first day they brought him to our home. I was so nervous and scared. Jody was at work and Noah was at school--Taylor was not born yet--and so it was just me at the house by myself when the caseworkers brought him to us. We were first time foster parents and I was scared to death!! It was such a humbling experience to open the door and see this quiet and scared little 9 month old baby just staring at me with such confusion. Almost immediately as the caseworker placed him in my arms, I felt such a deep love for him, but I could also feel how scared and broken his little heart was at such a young age. For one entire week, he didn't make a sound--no babbling, no giggling, just a very serious and quiet demeanor. I could definitely feel that at the tender age of 9 months--he had experienced pain and neglect that no child should ever have to experience. I (and Jody) immediately felt this great desire to love and protect him as his parents.
As many of you may remember--this past August we were informed by his caseworker that his bio mother, after being released from federal prison this summer, had requested that he be moved to a "friend of the family" and that they be his new foster family. Also, that they be allowed to adopt him. The bio mother essentially wanted him to be with this family because they were Hispanic--but what we also know--she thought that if he was moved to this other home, she and the grandmother could go see him whenever they wanted without having to have the supervision of CPS involved. Given the past history of bio mom and the grandparents, the possibility of them re-entering our foster son's life was a scary scenario. Without question, it was not going to be safe for him. We knew in our hearts this would just end up being another tragic and heartbreaking situation for our foster son.
We were just sick about this possibility...literally sick to our stomachs. But we were also really angry about it, too. This bio mother has already lost custody to two other children--they were adopted out to another family before our foster son was born. And given the nature of this case and the abuse/neglect that occurred while he was in her care and the grandparents--oh my goodness!!--it was hard to fathom that the state was even considering removing him from our home and placing him back in a situation where she could harm him again.
And so we waited and waited for the dreaded phone call---that's all we could do because as I've mentioned before---foster parents have zero rights....zero!! The days/weeks went by, but we never heard anything from his caseworker about when they would be coming to take him. It was such an emotional roller-coaster for us during this time, not knowing what was going to happen. Waking up and feeling such dread thinking this would be the day they rang our doorbell and we would have to say good-bye. During this time we had some heartfelt conversations with Noah and the rest of our extended family, trying to prepare everyone for baby boy to possibly be taken away and sent to live with this other family.
But also during this limbo time---we decided to fight this. In late August, we met with and hired a well respected family law attorney in town to represent us as his foster parents and intervene on our behalf in his CPS case. She is so wonderful and has a great relationship with the judge, the attorney ad-litem and the CPS office. After meeting with her, she put our minds at ease about a lot of things we were worrying about and assured us that if the state did move forward with a removal---with a court order--she could have him back in our home within 24 hours. Especially since we had reached the legal standing status by that time.
I'm happy to report though now two months later that the Lord's hand continues to be in our little guy's life--lovingly guiding and protecting him from what probably would have been a really bad situation. At the end of September, baby boy's CPS caseworker came for her monthly visit and there explained to us that the state had decided to hold off on moving him to this other family--despite the mother's request to do so. Hallelujah!! She also explained to us how she had praised us as his foster family to her supervisors in the CPS office and how she in no way felt it was in baby boy's best interest to rip him away from us and move him to this other family that he didn't know. Her fear (and ours, too) was this would be a great setback for him to have a disruption like this--especially since he had come so far since he was first placed in our care.
We had a status hearing on October 17th and all went well--the judge agreed with the state that baby boy should not be moved from our home. He agreed that it was in baby boy's best interest to stay in our care. Afterwards, our attorney explained to us how pleased she was with the outcome--she knows this judge really well and so this has given us a great deal of hope that things still might go in our favor and we will be able to adopt some time in the near future.
The judge set the next status hearing for January-- at which time the state will present the results of the recent DNA testing they completed on the alleged birthfather (who is currently serving a federal prison sentence by the way). And then the judge set a trial date for February where they plan to terminate parental rights barring no other family members come forward to adopt. And so, Jody and I remain hopeful that the state will stick with this plan and terminate rights. At which point following that, our attorney said she will move forward to formally request from the court that we be granted legal guardian status and at that point, we can then move forward with a private adoption of our foster son.
And so that is where we are now with our foster-to-adopt placement with baby boy. We're feeling a greater sense of peace about everything now that we are officially parties in the case and have our own attorney involved and watching out for him. We remain hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to adopt this precious boy of ours someday soon. And yet with this optimism, we are not naive to the fact that things could change overnight--a family member could still come forward and want him or the state may decide to let another family adopt him at the last minute--crazy things like this happen all the time in these situations. It's a complicated process. But always and forever in our hearts, no matter what happens--we will always consider him our son...he has become a part of our family forever.