A HUGE step in the right direction

I woke up so nervous today. I woke Carter up, and he said are you cooking a hot breakfast. I said that usually is the plan. He then said “Well today is such a stressful day, can I just have come cereal.” I agreed, knowing that usually he loves when I cook breakfast. Today was the big court day and he knew it. He is just like me when he is stressed we don’t eat well. I dropped him off at school and I headed to meet a friend for breakfast. I got two eggs over easy with toast. My friend Jackie is such a sweet person. She is also pastor Calvin’s wife. She got pork roll egg and cheese, which is what I would have gotten if I felt like I could eat. Instead I got two eggs over easy with rye toast. Jackie said she was hoping to distract me, so sweet of her to rearrange her day to be a good friend to me. We chatted about life and things going on. We also talked about the upcoming hearing and my worries and fears. Also, a truth I don’t say often but I will share here. Its not that I don’t want Carter to live with me, or that I don’t want him or consider him my son. I very much do, in fact I introduce him as my son to new people. He prefers it so I try to honor it. That being said if I’m being completely honest, I wouldn’t be doing this if Carter didn’t want it. Kinship Legal Guardianship, gives me all the rights I need really. Without severing my sister Mary’s parental rights. I support Carter don’t get me wrong, and I understand why he wants this. It’s just more complicated than that for me, but at the end of the day I’m going to do what is best for him. He deserves to feel loved, cared for, and most of all wanted. I mean if nothing else comes out of this whole thing, at least he knows he was fought for. Jackie did a great job of distracting me, and also making me feel loved and supported. It was a huge thing on a day like today. She prayed with me, she is such a good friend.

I arrived at the lawyers office at 1pm and I was so nervous. I must have seemed it too, because as soon as the lawyer came into the room he said you seem nervous. I said I was, and he told me not to worry. It was to be held on zoom because of this whole Covid thing still happening. When we got on Mary and her Lawyer were already on the call. The court clerk was talking. Then the Judge came on. She walked into court saying that she was going to have to get used to this. Previously with this Judge she had been on Zoom at her home. So I’m assuming this is new for her to be in person with us on Zoom. We actually saw less of her as we were looking at her from above. The Judge opened by first thanking Mary’s court appointed lawyer, for taking on the case, she said sometimes that’s the most you get but none the less she was thankful. She then stated that this was something new. She had asked her clerks to try and find other cases of Kinship Legal Guardianship turning to Adoption and said she didn’t really find anything. Then she said that this was a case management hearing and she asked my lawyer for any updates. He said that we asked for this hearing as Mary objected to the hearing just a day before the adoption hearing was due to take place, and we are hoping to come to an agreement. He also said that he sent the Judge a copy of Carter’s letter and it was shared with Marys lawyer as well. My lawyer also explained that we offered to keep visitation the same for after the adoption, and that he was waiting to hear back from Mary’s lawyer.

Mary’s lawyer then stated that he objected to the letter being sent to the Judge because they could not cross examine the letter. The Judge then stated it wouldn’t be entered as evidence. Mary’s lawyer then said that Mary stated she wouldn’t agree to this adoption no matter what.

The Judge began addressing Mary. She told Mary that it was clear from the adoption report that the reason we are here today is because Carter wants the adoption. The Judge also noted that there was no petition before the court to reverse the KLG (Kinship Legal Guardianship). The Judge then stated to Mary’s lawyer that she wouldn’t entertain one either. That Carter was in a safe and loving home with his Aunt and that was where he was going to stay. She definitely read Carter’s letter. Mary’s lawyer nodded in understanding. Turning back to Mary she stated that it has been almost a year since the KLG hearing, and you have yet to take advantage of the parental rights you still have. I’m not going to talk about how you aren’t financially providing for your son, because it’s clear that your sister Carter’s Aunt is doing all of that. As Carter is living with her full time, and you aren’t paying child support. You haven’t maintained contact with your son, as visitation is still not set up. I would say that this is the reason Carter wants to be adopted because he feels abandoned, maybe he is also hurting but I think that because of the lack of contact. I’m sure that Covid was a factor when we were shut down, but that doesn’t account for all the time. Mary kept looking off screen and turning her head completely sideways or so all you could see was the side of her head of hair. Then she would put her head all the way down and then pick it back up. The judge said that it is clear you do love your son because you are here. As a mother do you really want to put your son through a trial? I could pull him in here and have him tell us himself, why he wants to be adopted that would be really hard for him. Carter is a big boy now he’s not a little kid, it’s only a couple of years until he is 18. There is a saying that the days are long but the years are quick. Shelby is your sister, I would bet to say that she wouldn’t keep Carter from seeing you if he wanted to see you and you were doing well. So, as his mother I would suggest you think about what you will be putting your son through by not agreeing to the adoption. The judge said that we will set up mediation, then have a case conference and then a hearing after that. She also said we will put all these dates on the calendar today. This doesn’t have to go on any longer. The Judge asked if there was anything else anyone would like to add.

My lawyer spoke up saying that the judge has the letter from Carter’s therapist about how contact should be therapeutic due to the issues Carter and Mary have. He stated he will get an updated letter for the Judge. My lawyer also brought up about the positive drug test Mary had previously. The Judge nodded her head and said yes I would like an updated hair follicle test. Do you know of any place that does that? I usually have DCPP set that up, but they are not involved in this case. My lawyer brought up about the place that did her previous hair follicle test. Mary spoke up and said that she had concerns about that place. That a receptionist took her hair sample and didn’t even ask for ID. The Judge said okay fine then you find a place to do the hair follicle test. Mary then said well they didn’t ask me what medication I was on. The Judge stated that’s not their job, their job is to provide the results. Mary was putting food in her mouth while the judge was talking. What did you just put in your mouth the Judge asked. “Peanuts” Mary replied. The Judge stated “This is a official hearing, you shouldn’t be eating or vaping or smoking. I don’t mind if you have a sip of water but you should take this seriously. Mary stated I’m sorry. The Judge then continued, their job is to only provide the results. Your job is to sign a medical waiver and have your prescribed drugs released to your lawyer and then to this court. The Judge then said that goes for all forms you provide this court. They are not to go from you to your lawyer to this court. They are to go from the institution to your lawyer and then from the lawyer to this court. Mary then said “Who pays for the hair follicle test?” The Judge replied “You do”.

My lawyer spoke once more, asking for all the DCPP notes on the case. The Judge said that she can request them, and she doesn’t mind but she will go through them. The Judge stated that she will look at them and release under protective order the ones she can.

The Judge then said you will have a mediation to try and resolve this. I hope the mother considers what is the best thing for her son. After the mediation we will have a case conference hearing and finally we will have a court hearing about the adoption. Please stay on while I exit and my clerk will give you dates, as I don’t want any more delays in this case.

The clerk came on and the dates are as follows. Mediation is scheduled on March 21. The case conference is scheduled for April 14th and the court hearing is scheduled for May 18th.

It sounds drawn out and long, because it is. I think it is because the Judge is trying to make sure there is no room down the line for a ruling to be challenged. I was very happy about this court hearing. I finally felt like Carter was heard, that someone recognized that I was speaking for his wishes not my own. I honestly feel like this is all going to work out. God has shown that this is true.

After the hearing was over it was 2:15pm and I decided to go pick up Carter a little early from school. Thought I would fill him in and get some ice cream. It was also a perfect day because it was 50 degrees so it wasn’t so cold for a February day. Carter was so excited to hear about the news. I didn’t tell him everything just that it went well. The Judge recognizes that this is what Carter wants and that the lawyer felt positive about it as well. That there will be some court dates but only one he has to attend and I’ll know more about that as time goes on. We celebrated and then we drove both getting quiet. I said you know it’s bittersweet for me too. Carter replied yeah it’s sad. For the truth is, while it is a win it is also a loss.

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