Rotisserie Chicken Trigger

I really didn’t see this one coming tonight. Not in a million years. Last week Carter wanted a rotisserie chicken, but it wasn’t covered and I didn’t have extra money. So we had to put them back. I picked Carter up from school today and while we were driving home I mentioned I have to stop at the store. I said I need some chicken. Carter got so excited, and I realized he thought I meant the rotisserie chicken. Carter I said I am getting uncooked chicken, as it is covered. Well he just lost it.

He started by saying how mean I was because I wouldn’t get the chicken. I explained again it wasn’t covered and not in our budget. He said it’s $5. You are probating thinking that’s nothing. It may only be $5 but things are tight right now. With the adoption costs and some other things I just don’t have for extra right now.

Then he started yelling at me. I told him that if he continued to yell he’d loose his video game time. He said he didn’t care. Well, he lost his video game time. He started demanding his video game time and going on and on about how he will get it one way or another. I asked him what this was about serval times but he just said the rotisserie chicken.

He had issues for over 2 hours. He refused to leave the room so I could have my therapy session. Stating if he couldn’t have his games then I couldn’t have my therapy. Dinner ended up on the floor. I was at my wits end.

He eventually calmed down and was rational again. According to Carter, Mary would never buy him a rotisserie chicken and when I said no it reminded him of her. Carter said that he remembered all the times she hurt him. He also said he was also worried about the adoption and how Mary is going to react. He is afraid of an issue on the day of (and not I didn’t say anything). This took over 3 hours from start to finish. In the end we were both exhausted.

We talked about how we both could have responded or handled things different. Then we prayed together and also confessing the ways in which we didn’t handle things well. In the end it we worked it out. Who would have thought all this over rotisserie church?

Mary’s email taking back the agreement.

Today I got an email from my lawyer. It literally said “I can’t believe I’m forwarding this to you”. Mary signed the consent order and sent an email stating that she no longer objects to the adoption. The county clerk asked her lawyer to have Mary sign it and send it back. Apparently when her lawyer sent it to Mary, she stated she wouldn’t sign it and that she wanted to withdraw from the consent order. I’m not going to lie my heart sank when I read this. I also got pretty upset and angry. You would think I saw this coming, but I didn’t.

I spoke to my lawyer and I asked him what it mean. It said he didn’t know, other than we would be having a trial on the 18th most likely. I asked him if he thought it would be good for me to reach out to Mary. He said yes so I did. I wrote to her telling her that Carter invited friends to his adoption and was looking forward to it. I asked her to consider what she was doing. I expressed how upset Carter would be if it wasn’t happening now, and the negative affect it would have on their relationship. She hasn’t responded, and I didn’t really expect her too.

The county clerk emailed Mary’s lawyer and my lawyer. He stated that at this point the consent order has been signed and processed and the adoption is scheduled to happen on May 18th, based on Mary’s representations to the court the signed consent, her email withdrawing her objection to the adoption, her failure to comply with the court order to get a hair follicle test, and her not showing for case conference with the judge. He said that if Mary wanted to object to the adoption she would need to make a formal signed filling. He stated that they can arrange for Mary and her lawyer to show up virtually on the day of the adoption to express her opposition to the adoption and the Judge will address her position then. He also said that she should file a formal filling before that then.

After I got over my anger and upset about the email. I got sad real sad, as much as this is the right thing. I’d be amiss to not say how hard this must be for Mary. I know she didn’t make the right choices, I know she is sick. It is still also such a hard thing for her I’m sure. Mary is sick and needs help. She is my sister and she really doesn’t like me right now. I can guess as to why she blames me for so much, but I have only ever tried to do right by Carter. Mary is legally loosing her right to her son, regardless of the circumstances that is a very sad and very hard thing. I can only imagine what she is going through right now.

I hope for Carter’s sake that she will not file a formal filling. That she will let the adoption go through. I hope one day they can have a great relationship. I hope that one day we can be sisters. I miss her, I miss my sister. I will keep you updated. Hopefully we will have an adoption next week.

Mother’s Day Trauma

Today is a day to celebrate for a lot of people. It also is a hard day, one with mixed emotions. Mother’s and Father’s Day are the hardest for Carter. I think more than any other holiday. He is constantly reminded that the people who are supposed to be his mother and father aren’t, at least not to him.

It’s a few days before the adoption, and we should be celebrating that I am his legally going to be his mother. That doesn’t change the fact that his biological parents, aren’t who he lives with. It is a deep hole, that I hope heals one day.

I’ve learned to not push anything for the day, we take it easy. Don’t do too much, low expectations. Also staying home and relaxing is the best. Carter has a lot of emotional stuff that always seems to come up on these days. It’s just wise to make space for it. At least in our case.

Today the big thing he has been struggling with is the idea that something must be wrong with him that Mary couldn’t get healthy in order to get him back. He feels like maybe he’s not worth it. I of course said he is worth it and that’s why I am fighting so hard for him. That its nothing he did that she is sick. The reality is he just doesn’t feel like that is true. Hopefully with time he will heal. Either way I’ll be here with him day in and day out. I pray that God will continue to heal his heart and place Godly men in his life to pour into him.

Adoption date set!!!

We had mediation for the third time last week. When it was over we had an agreement. We were waiting on Mary to sign the paperwork. We had a scheduled case conference today. Mary signed the agreement and sent an email stating she is withdrawing her objection to the adoption.

This means that on May 18th and 9am, Carter will be adopted!!! We are so excited and happy about this. We celebrated tonight and had a good time doing it so. God made a way today and we are so grateful to him.

I’d be a miss to say that we didn’t talk about the sadness of it too. Carter and I talked about at length how we hope that Mary gets the help she needs and is able to turn her life around. Carter feels like this will never happen. He said if she couldn’t do it to get me back she probably never will. I asked him to hold out hope and keep an open mind. We would love it if she did and was a bigger apart of our lives. He promised he’d try.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned to accept with taking care of Carter. He is reminded of Mary often and that brings mixed feelings. So things like holidays, birthdays, special events, vacations… they all remind him of Mary. It is hard for him and it makes him sad and angry and other things too. I’ve tried to teach him to acknowledge it and say it. He has improved on this. Just the other week we were with friends and their kid. Their son was acting up kinda being bratty but he was overtired and being rude to their parents. Carter turned to me and said he was triggered by his behavior. I asked in what way. He said because what I wouldn’t give to have a mother and a father and a normal family life. Then he said it also makes me feel guilty for the way I treat you sometimes. We talked it out, and he felt a little lighter not having to carry it alone.

Kinship is complicated… when I called my dad to tell him about the ruling, he said how did Mary seem is she okay? While I appreciate that he is worried about her, he has a relationship with her. My dad often says he’s glad I have Carter and it’s the right call, but doesn’t celebrate it with us. I think he struggles with feeling torn because Mary is his daughter. He is also afraid of what she will do and how she will react to things. Even in telling others our news it is mixed reactions. That is okay, I have learned to expect and accept it.

A lot of people say Carter is so lucky to have you and he is such a good kid. He is really he is. He also has a lot of trauma and hard things to deal with. What people don’t know is that he sleep walks and has nightmares almost every night. He is 15, but emotionally only 10 and that is hard for him. He is so scared I’ll leave him and not come home and he constantly reminds me he’s here. If he thinks I’ve been gone too long he will call worried I left him, because he’s been left before. He struggles with telling the truth because if he messed up he didn’t know what reaction he would get from Mary and that scared him. He really longs for a dad and cries about it often. He has some great males in his life. He is just really wants a dad of his own. He has anxiety and bites the inside of his mouth when he gets upset. He needs lots of hugs and told I love you serval times. If he makes a mistake he wants a hug and told he is loved or he can’t relax. He is so afraid even now that my love is conditional. This is something I’m hoping with time gets better. He gets jealous if I give my time to the dog or someone on the phone, because he is worried he will be put on the back burner. He is also very generous, kind, and loyal. He hates to see anyone upset. He loves to draw and write. He loves to play video games and needs very strict limits and boundaries. He would even tell you he like the boundaries even though he doesn’t like all that it entails. This is kinship… I’m sure it’s similar to other families. This is our family, our journey.

Agreement made!

So today we had mediation again. Following the last mediation that was two weeks ago. Mary was supposed to call a number to set up therapeutic visitation with Carter. Everyone showed up, and well it didn’t start off great to be honest.

Mary said she wasn’t able to get a hold of anyone, and she said that she couldn’t set up therapeutic visitation yet. It kinda felt like this was going to be a huge issue. Mary went on to explain that we maybe should have another mediation when this was set up. My lawyer explained that we didn’t need it to be already completely set up in order to make an agreement. Mary said she wanted to it set up before the agreement, and again said maybe we should have another mediation. The mediator stepped in and said that we already had three mediations for this and that we really only should have had one. She said she stretched it to try and help resolve this issue but that if it wasn’t resolved today then it would go back to the judge. Mary then interrupted and said it was only two mediations scheduled. The mediator said the first one you didn’t show up to. Mary then said I didn’t just not show up. The mediator then said anyway, so do we need to do break out rooms? She asked Mary’s lawyer and he said he’d do a breakout room with her. Mary said that she just was concerned that if she couldn’t use the one place for therapy that she’d be stuck and that I wouldn’t agree. My lawyer then suggested that we put something in there about other options. Mary then said that she also has an issue with the drug test. She called Labcorp and she needs a script in order to get a blood test. She can’t just walk in, and that the doctor said they wouldn’t write her a script for something they don’t do in their office. Mary said her doctors office only does urine tests, and they don’t do blood work. The mediator asked did you ask if they will write you a script for blood work. Mary said she did and they said no. My lawyer said that maybe she needs to find a different Doctor because he’s in another case where this is something the one parents does regularly. Mary stated that her doctors office just won’t do it. My lawyer said it’s not a requirement unless the therapist thinks that she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when she goes to visitation with Carter. Mary said that she really doesn’t know how the drug test is going to work. She said that she needs it hammered out before she will sign anything. That the blood test is a real issue. It was explained that she needs to find a doctor who will write her a script for a blood drug test. She said ok.

Then we started talking about the agreement. When it got to the part about the program Mary got really upset. The mediator said okay so Mary and Carter will attend therapeutic visitation with the program we outlined or another agreed upon therapist. Mary said no way I can’t trust that my sister will agree to anything. She can’t be the one to decide if the therapist meets her standard. The mediator explain that I would have complete care for Carter and it would be unreasonable for me not to have a say. Mary said no I don’t like that word agree, because my sister won’t agree.

At this point my lawyer said, I think maybe we should just let Mary go in front of the judge next week. We are wasting my clients time and money. All these things we agreed to last time and we were just waiting to give her time to set things up. Now everything we previously agreed upon she seems to be fighting. She didn’t want a hair follicle test so we agreed to a blood drug test. We said she only had to do a drug test if the therapist thinks it is required, instead of before she can even start seeing him. We are now fighting over my Client being able to agree to a therapist if the other program doesn’t work. She can explain to the judge that she hasn’t done any of the things the judge ordered her to do. Mary hasn’t gotten a drug test and she hasn’t released her medical files regarding her treatment. I think maybe we should just let Judge Sonny decide this next week at our case conference.

Mary said she’d agree to the adoption she just didn’t like the word agree when it came to me. Mary said she’ll never agree I can’t sign that. I said then put it as Ashton’s therapist agrees. I trust him, and I’m fine with that. Mary said ok.

In the end what was ultimately agreed upon was that Mary would agree to the adoption and she would still be able to see Carter, starting first in a therapeutic setting. Now we are still waiting on the signed agreement before I tell Carter about this. It was at the end of business close, so I don’t expect to hear until tomorrow. I’ll write an update here when I do.

4/14/22 Court Mediation

Court mediation is hard and time consuming. This one was scheduled at 11am. Which meant I couldn’t really go into work and by the time it would be over I couldn’t go in later either. Sometimes I get frustrated with this, right now I don’t have sick days. So if I don’t go in then I’m not getting paid.

Also, Carter has been so sick lately. He had a stomach bug, then bronchitis, then another stomach bug, and now a ear infection/sinus infection. He was so sick with the stomach bug I had to take off, as his fever hit 103. I had to take him to the ER because he couldn’t keep the Tylenol down. So it really has been a stressful 5 weeks of sickness.

Anyway, I have to tell you some cool things before I talk about the mediation. Carter loves Karate I told him he could try it for 6 months. After the 6 months I explained we’d have to give it up until September when I’ll be making more money. I had to tell the Karate place as well, it’s in the agreement. However, when we told the Karate place, they literally gave him a scholarship and he can just help out after Karate each time, so he is doing something for it. That was a huge weight off my shoulders. Carter hasn’t been able to do these sort of things before. So while he understood we couldn’t afford it, it was so generous that gave him a scholarship to him until Mid September.

Then the morning of the court mediation, I was stressed out. Carter really wanted to get breakfast at this local place but I didn’t really want to spend the money. Anyway, we ended going for breakfast. They brought the bill and I put my cash on it. Then the owner came over and took the bill and said this one is on me. I was like what?! Again another little way God was showing me that he is providing for us.

Anyway, I dropped Carter off at school, and took the dog to the vet for a follow up. My poor dog had a huge tumor on his toe and had to have it removed the week before. So this was just a follow up and a bandage change. They had to take his toe poor thing. He is doing well though.

So we get on mediation and to my surprise Mary is on for mediation along with her lawyer. My lawyer and I get online together. The thing with Mary is every time we get to court she denies she has a drug problem, even though it’s documented. Anyway, she says she will agree to the adoption if she can still have visitation. I say that is fine, we can keep the same arrangement as now. Obviously if things go well and Mary and Carter rebuild their relationship, then we can talk about having unsupervised time. I made it clear though that for unsupervised she has to be stable, and she has to do a blood draw to show she isn’t on drugs. She pushed against that. Saying she isn’t on drugs and never has been and that I was lying about it. The mediator goes into a breakout room with Mary and her lawyer. They come back and Mary is still denying that she is on drugs. I’ve never had a drug problem. I told the mediator that she literally tested positive on the last court ordered drug test and that she texted me she was on drugs. Mary said no such thing ever happened. At which point my lawyer stated a screen shot of the text message was included in discovery. My lawyer then read it out where she admits to being on drugs. At this point the mediator explains to Mary that they need to whole truth in order to be able to mediate these things. The mediator then said that my concerns for her drug use was valid and that I was being reasonable. Mary then said okay.

Then we started talking about therapeutic visitation which Mary and Carter would start out with. Mary said that we lied in court to her and that the therapeutic visitation was very expensive. I explained that we all had agreed that Mary and Carter needed therapeutic visitation. So we had it written in the court order a specific way so that she could fill out the paperwork to get a grant so she wouldn’t have to pay for the visitation. Mary then said she couldn’t figure it out and that no one would help her. Mary then stated that I only told her at the guardianship hearing that she could go anywhere for the visitation (mind you that was almost a year ago). I explained I had told her that in December of 2020, the guardianship hearing was in April of 2021. I explained that I still wasn’t picky as to where they went to therapy as long as they did it and talked to Carter’s therapist. Also, let me know if there was anything that happened that upset Carter so I could be aware. Mary got mad at this, she doesn’t have a right to know what I talk about with Carter. My lawyer said that she is just looking for an overview of how the visit went so that I can best support Carter at home. Mary eventually agreed to this. She has a time frame to call a place that they set her up with to do the visitation. The mediator explained to Mary that she was going to have to do her own research in the process of applying for financial aide on her part.

Now she has been given that time to get everything set up. We meet again for mediation on April 28th. They were more accommodating to my schedule so I’ll only have to take off work a little early that day. Hopefully she will just agree to mediation and we will sign and then we will have an adoption hearing on May 18th. I’ll let you know how the next mediation goes. Stay tuned.

Mediation from Monday (3/21/22)

We had a scheduled mediation this past Monday. I’d love to have something exciting to share. Unfortunately, this is not the case. My lawyer, her lawyer, the mediator, and I all showed up. Mary was did not. Her lawyer informed us that he told her she had to be there, but that Mary said she had to work. The mediator then asked Mary’s lawyer what her issues with the adoption are. Mary’s lawyer stated that Mary feels that I have stopped her from seeing Carter along the way. That I am the reason she doesn’t see her son. This is the part that is hard for me. I am constantly sitting in court hearings not able to defend myself, while my sister someone I love lies about me. Even still on the court record last April, Mary admitted that I said she could go to any therapist as long as they were willing to talk to Carter’s therapist, the court, and Me (if there were any issues so I am prepared to handle Carter’s reaction). So while she can say these things, in the back of my head I’m hoping the judge remembers this.

The Mediator called and texted Mary’s phone. She didn’t answer. We waited a little bit, and just as we were going to reschedule she texted back. Mary stated that she thought her lawyer could represent her interests. Her lawyer stated again saying “I don’t know what to say, I told her she needed to be here.” I felt bad for the guy, I mean he is court appointed so he isn’t getting paid.

We ended up rescheduling it and yes I did say rescheduling for April 14th. I am frustrated as I took off a whole day of work, and now by the time I get myself together and changed, it’s too late to go into work. I know they want to make sure that they give her as many chances as possible. Here’s the thing I’m a sub right now, so if I don’t work I don’t get paid.

They did put the order through for her hair follicle test. She has until next Thursday to get a hair follicle test or it is an automatic failure. We shall see what she decided to do here. If she does get it done or not.

I hope she can agree to the adoption, even though I know she probably won’t. It’d be the best possible situation for Carter to be honest. If she just agreed then he won’t have to testify, say all the reasons he doesn’t want to live with Mary, and why he wants me to adopt him.

I’ll share updates as they happen.

"We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never life through it. In face, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead." - 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 

Triggers

Carter and I woke up today. Had a great morning, laughing and joking around. He even spent some time using his Bible app, he had it reading to him. Then something innocent made a turn for our day.

I began singing the song “I’m bringing home my baby bumblebee”. I don’t know why it came into my head, but I sang it aloud none the less. Carter instantly came into the room and rudely stated “Don’t ever sing that stupid song again, I hate it.” Now while I can appreciate that he was clearly triggered in someway, I could tell by his body language and his close to tears look in his eyes. I calmly (although I wanted to raise my voice to his and unfortunately don’t always stay as calm as I should) stated that I didn’t like the way he was expressing how he was feeling, and asked why he was so upset. He angrily said no reason which I knew wasn’t true. I was sitting on the floor dusting so I replied, when you normally don’t like a song I’m singing you ask me nicely not to sing it aloud. This clearly had a much stronger responce so I’m sure there is a reason. I said that if he wanted to talk I was here, and if he wanted me not to sing that song or another one he needs to ask me nicely. He then although with aggravation in his voice stated Mom can you please not sign that song. I said sure.

Unfortunately, I knew that while it was good that he could say it nicely, that if he didn’t express what was wrong that he would act out. I reminded him of our three and talk rule. Meaning if he continued to act out that after the third time we needed to talk about it before we moved on. He said he knew and again that nothing was wrong.

Sundays are kinda a morning where we ease into our day, this snowy Sunday day was no different. We have an evening service right now at our church. So we often stay in PJs until we shower and get dressed for church. Carter knew he had to get in the shower, before we went to church, as it was the super bowl after and we wouldn’t be getting home until late.

He began to find ways to pick a fight with me. I’m not going to shower, and I replied that’s your choice. Then he said so you won’t give me an unhappy face. He was referring to his behavior chart where he earned smiley faces for game time. I said you are free to chose, but if you chose not to shower you know you will get an unhappy face. Of course at this he started slamming around the house in anger. I told him that was one. He said no it’s not. I ignored him. Then he started by trying to argue with me about video game ratings. I simply said you know the rules I’m not going to fight with you about it. He got rude again. I told him that was two. I asked if he needed a talk or a hug or something else that would help him. He said no I don’t need anything, nothing is wrong. I was listening to a book on my Alexa he came out and rudely turned it off. He said I don’t want to listen to that. I said then go in your room and close your door. It isn’t on loudly and you can close your door and you won’t hear it. I don’t want to close my door. I said that is your choice but I’m not turning off the audio book. He got furious saying that he can’t do anything right, and he never gets his way. I said well not when your trying to picking battles with me. You are upset and when you get upset you try to pick battles. I then said that is three.

Now you maybe looking at this as normal teenage behavior, and sometimes it is. The truth is I knew I triggered him with that song. I didn’t mean to but I did. It is hard to describe because it wasn’t just his response it was his body language and look he gets in his eyes. He wanted to talk I’m guessing because he was trying to pick battles with me. For when I said that was three. He sat down in a huff but resigning himself to a talk. He has at times refused and walked away and thrown more of a fit. He has gotten a lot better and honestly I think he wanted to talk but I still wasn’t sure why he still can’t just say that.

He said I’m sorry. I said why are you sorry. He said because I just was trying to get on your nerves. I asked him why. He said because I really don’t like that song. I asked him why and he hesitated. I said do you know why and he nodded his head. He said it reminded him of his mom. That she used to sing it all the time (this made sense because back in the day we both worked in the same preschool and we often sang this song at school). I asked why it upset him though. He said that when his mom was upset she would sing that song to try and calm down. That wouldn’t work and then Carter would eventually do something that upset Mary. Unfortunately, Mary would then hit him. It was no wonder why it had triggered such a strong response. I said I’m so sorry sweet heart no wonder why you got so upset. That was very wrong and it shouldn’t have happened to you. I told him I was proud of him for being brave and telling me. I told him I’d do my best not to sing the song anymore. But that we needed to talk about this is therapy this week. Also, that there are better and more productive ways to express his feelings. He agreed and apologizing for his behavior we went on throughout our day. His behavior was good for the rest of the day. When we got to church he took a little snow off the car and teased he’d throw it at me. So I got some snow too making a snow ball, telling him I would return the favor. He touched me with the snowball on my back but I thought he had thrown it at me. So I took my snowball and put it down his shirt. We went into church laughing and carrying on.

This was a good outcome and it was solved relatively quickly. However, sometimes he can carry on for a whole day or days when something like this triggers him. Especially if he is triggered and I’m not around. If I can tell something triggered him I can comment on a similar situation or ask questions. When I don’t know what happened it can take a lot longer to get to the meat of it. Carter is a great kid, and I am learning and have been learning about how to deal with his trauma responses.

Resources to help deal with a child’s trauma:

https://childmind.org/guide/helping-children-cope-after-a-traumatic-event/ . This is a great resources and helps you deal with the trauma also giving specific advice for different age groups.

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/child-trauma.pdf. This was another great resource I found.

Another resource was a book read “Healing the Heart” by Christine Fonseca

Differences between Kinship Guardianship and Adoption

I get a lot of questions about Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG) vs Adoption. This entry is to try and explain the pros and cons of both.

KLG is custody of child you are related to or a legal relationship (i.e. step parent). This came about back in 2002, when a lot of relatives were providing long term care of a children in care, and there was a lot of pressure to reduce the amount of time kids are in foster care. DCPP may or may not be involved, most likely they were involved at one point, even if it was for a short time. KLG gives you custody of a child but it doesn’t terminate a parent’s rights. A parent still has the obligation to pay child support (although you have to go to court to get it), and they have a right to visit the child. KLG does not give you the right to change a child’s name, and you can’t choose where the child goes if something happens to you. If you get KLG through DCPP there are clothing stipends. If you don’t have current DCPP involvement like I don’t there is a kinship wrap around program that will give you $500 a year for helping with clothing costs. You can find more about this in my resources page. KLG gives you the right to make all medical, and educational decisions. It also gives you the right to help the child apply for college, a drivers licence, and any other services a child might need. In order to get KLG the child has to be living with you for a year. They do background checks, a home inspection, and meet with you and the child. You have to get background checks and fingerprinted. It can be an overwhelming process but if you get your paperwork in it goes relatively quickly. It was about 5 months from start to being awarded KLG for me. Also, to apply for KLG it is free, look in my resources page for more details. KLG is great for a lot of families. Most judges will award it because it’s about providing a stable home for the child, and the parental rights aren’t being terminated. It is a lot easier to get than adoption.

Adoption is exactly what you know the term already as. It terminates all rights of a parent and gives those rights to you. This means you can change the child’s name, name a guardian if something were to happen to you, make all medical and education decisions. While in my case we are applying for adoption and I’d agree to keep visitation the same. This isn’t usually the case, also once adoption happens it isn’t enforceable. Meaning if you agree to do visitation with the birth parents but don’t keep your word, there is nothing the parent can do legally about it. There is a home inspection, doctors checks for you and the child, they interview you and the child, and you have to get fingerprinted and police checked. There is a lot of paperwork the packet alone was 40 pages.

I think that about does it. I hope this helps!

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.