OF COURSE I had to express my frustrations in this recent post about relatives of foster children coming forward late in a child’s case (as in 90-120 days or longer after the child has adjusted into a stable, loving foster home) to express interest in caring for the child(ren) on either a temporary or permanent basis. Of course I had to say something because just five days prior to today’s court hearing I got a phone call from Jack and Jill’s caseworker informing me that since things aren’t looking good for their mother, a relative has come forward who is interested in adopting Jack and Jill despite the fact that this relative declined to take them into her home at the beginning of the case nor has she been involved in the children’s lives whatsoever for over a year now and perhaps most significant of all, regardless of the fact that these children have been in our home for 14 months now and that moving them would be extremely disruptive and cause them significant trauma- especially to Jill since ours is the only home she’s ever known.
THANKS GOODNESS that upon learning this news DCFS’s attorney as well as the children’s Guardian Ad Liteum were both in immediate agreement that such a move would not be in the children’s best interest since this relative failed to meet coming forward within a 120 Day Timeframe and both children are already attached to our family. Nevertheless, it is up to the judge to make the final decision.
So when we heard this news about the relative coming out of the woodwork, we figured that the worst case scenario is that we would have to dip into what we’ve been saving up and setting aside over the past five or six years of our private adoption funds to pay for legal fees in order to fight for these children. The best case scenario is that the judge would be more concerned with Jack and Jill’s welfare than with giving his bio family any more chances than they’ve already been given. Fortunately, the issue didn’t even come up at today’s hearing which purpose was to determine if DCFS will continue to provide reunification services to Jack and Jill’s mother.
Incidentally, in the same phone call which Jack and Jill’s caseworker told me about the children’s relative coming forward, she also shared another huge development with me pertaining to their case which came as quite a surprise. I may be writing about that development in the future- especially if it becomes a part of our story.
So what happened at today’s Permanency Hearing? The judge agreed that DCFS’s Reunification Services to Jack and Jill’s mother would be discontinued and their Permanency Plan has been changed from Reunification to Adoption. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are guaranteed to adopt them, but rather, that the case is now headed in that direction. Although services to their mother will be discontinued the judge would still like biweekly supervised visits to continue between the children and their mother.
WHAT’S NEXT is another hearing scheduled next month where DCFS will petition the court to terminate their mother’s parental rights. Even if the judge agrees with terminating parental rights, Jack and Jill’s mother will have time to appeal the decision which would mean yet another hearing. Or there is the possibility that she could relinquish her parental rights all together and avoid a trial.