Our Imperfect Lives

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The Court Date

It’s been a while since we announced the court dates and we’re sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to know what happened, so drumroll please…… nothing. That’s right nothing happened, well nothing besides a paperwork error and a continuance.

Part of the court proceedings includes an investigation conducted by a neutral third party who will submit a report to the court. This report was supposed to have been completed on February 23, before the trial dates, but someone incorrectly marked the due date as March 23, so it wasn’t ready in time.  Thankfully the kids’ lawyer, K, pushed for the rescheduled date to be sooner rather than later and the judge scheduled the trial for the next available opening – May 21 and 22.

While we were of course disappointed to hear that the case was continued, we’re glad we “only” have to wait until May, because it could be worse – a lot worse. A couple who we took our MAPP classes with (for those of you who need a quick refresher those were our Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting classes that were required to become certificated foster parents) also had a court date scheduled the same week for TPR (termination of parental rights) and also had a continuance. However, their case was continued until 2017!

Although hearing about the pushed court date was a bit of a headache, trying to schedule a time for the court investigator to come out and meet with us and the kids was an even bigger headache!

We can only assume that since the investigator’s report was supposed to be due on February 23rd that it was assigned sometime before then. However, we only heard from the investigator once the kids’ lawyer reached out to her the day of the continuance. Then we went back and forth for two weeks before deciding on a date. The date we decided on of course coincided with Meg’s doctor’s appointment, but she decided to reschedule since picking a date had turned into such a hardship.

The Sunday night before our appointment with the court investigator we got an email  – she had to cancel. Ugh. She offered up another date, which of course was inconvenient as Meg had an appointment after school in another town and wouldn’t be home until after five o’clock. The court investigator had suggested meeting around three or four o’clock. Wanting to be as accommodating as possible, we agreed to the new date on the stipulation that we meet after five o’clock. She never emailed back.

The day before the proposed rescheduled meeting Meg called to try and confirm the appointment but didn’t reach the investigator, so we were still in limbo. That night we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Meg’s parents. Sport had a grand time. He played with Meg’s parents’ dogs, a golden retriever and a yellow lab, played with the special toys that Grammy keeps at her house for Sport, and got to eat a giant cookie shaped like a basketball. Sunshine, however, was not feeling too sunny. She spiked a fever of 102 degrees and was very uncomfortable. We were without children’s Tylenol at Meg’s parents’ house so Marcy had to make an emergency trip to the store to buy some. After the medicine kicked in she was able to calm down a little bit, but only if she was being held.

Basketball cookie

The next day, the proposed day of the rescheduled appointment, Sunshine was still warm and she added diarrhea to her ailments, that we would soon find out also included a double ear infection. It was a work from home day so Marcy could try and nurse little Sunshine back to health. She was a relatively happy little baby in the morning, even playing a while before the diarrhea and red bottom really kicked in.

Working from home

Right around the time Sunshine started going downhill and she was crying uncontrollably, Meg called to let Marcy know that the court investigator would be at  the house at five o’clock perhaps beating Meg and Sport home. We weren’t prepared. We wanted to tidy up the house and fix a few things that we had been meaning to get to every weekend for the past couple of months. Of course, Marcy had an hour or so to get ready, but Sunshine wasn’t having any of it. She needed to be held and consoled.

Thankfully the house wasn’t a complete disaster. The court investigator came over and gave us a run down about how anything we say can be used in court, yada yada… We kind of figured that and we weren’t planning on saying anything that we wouldn’t want to be disclosed in court. Although just to note, what we said could be used in court but not our identities. We would be completely anonymous –Ms. X and Ms. X.

We chatted about how the children were doing at daycare, how they’ve adjusted to our home, the milestones they’ve achieved, and more. Then to finish up the meeting Sport proudly lead the investigator up to his room and then to Sunshine’s.

We were glad to finally get the meeting with the court investigator in the books. Despite being very busy, she was very helpful and professional. An important step in the adoption process was done.

In addition to meeting with us, the investigator would meet with the biological families as well as doctors, daycare providers, and pretty much anyone playing an important role in the lives of the children.

Now we wait until May…

And for this week’s photo break we bring you photos from a trip to the Ecotarium with Marcy, her brother Matt, her sister Missy and the kids:






Information, Glorious Information

We went into this knowing that it wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t going to be a normal placement. A normal pre-adoptive placement would have included a disclosure (a sit down with social workers who would reveal every scrap of information the department knew about the children) and more preparation time. We had neither. As a result we’ve been a bit lacking on the information front.

Now, please don’t think that we’re second guessing our decision, because that line of reasoning couldn’t be more off the mark. We absolutely adore these kids, even when Sport is throwing a tantrum or Sunshine won’t let us sleep.

Unfortunately, the adoption social worker assigned to Sport and Sunshine is the lone adoption worker in her office and she has a pretty hefty work load. That work load includes a list of disclosures that she needs to conduct and we’re a few down the line, so we wait. And wait.

Until recently, most of the information we had about Sport and Sunshine’s biological parents, aka bio parents, came from clues we found in the children’s medical records, early intervention reports, and even the newspaper. It’s not that the adoption worker was withholding information, she just didn’t know much. She was relatively new to the case when we were selected as the pre-adoptive placement for the kids and she didn’t have the information to conduct a disclosure. She’s been slowly pulling together information on the case and the kids. On occasion she’s actually asked us for information such as the medical paperwork from Sunshine’s birth.

The ongoing case worker who organized and supervised the visits with the bio parents had more information about them and the circumstances that lead to the kids being in state custody. And while we have heard that many ongoing workers tend to share as much as they can with pre-adoptive families without breaking privacy rules, this ongoing worker was extremely cautious about not breaking, or even bending, privacy rules and shared next to nothing with us.

On the one hand we know that DCF workers are overworked and under a lot criticism due to some very upsetting and highly publicized cases, so we try to be sympathetic. However, on the other hand we have this nagging feeling, based in part on our lack of information, that this case has been mishandled along the way. The original social worker assigned to the case seems to be no longer employed by the department and some of the paperwork from when Sport was first brought into care appears to be incomplete or just missing. We’re hoping it turns up.

Thankfully the social workers are not the only individuals with information about the case. After having the kids in our care for over four months, we finally met their attorney. She was a fountain of information! Her role in court is to express what she thinks the kids would say they want – if they were able to communicate it themselves. She told us right away that she thinks the kids would say they want to stay with us.

She has been with the case since it began – making her the longest tenured person with the case that we’re in communication with. She was able to give us information about Sport’s many placements in his short life as well as some additional details about why the kids were so quickly moved from their previous foster home into ours. She also shared information about what’s to come.

We knew that there were court dates scheduled for March 5 and 6 but we were a bit cloudy on the details. We were under the impression that the proceedings on those days were to have Sport’s goal officially changed to adoption in the courts and for the state to get permanent custody of Sunshine. However, the cases were recently combined and the department is suggesting that the biological parents’ rights be terminated.

This means that later this week could be a big milestone in our adoption process. The judge could rule to terminate parental rights. Terminating the parental rights (or TPR) is a critical step in our adoption process, because without it there is no legal adoption. Of course the judge could decide not to terminate their rights, or even to give them a bit more time to get their act together. We’re trying to stay as optimistic as possible while preparing ourselves for the long road ahead, because even if the judge rules to terminate the parental rights they can still appeal.

Their attorney did give us the impression that she’s somewhat confident that the judge will rule to terminate rights. She’s familiar with the judge and informed us that the judge also presided over the case involving Sport and Sunshine’s half brothers. We’re also told that this judge has a reputation for not wanting to drag a case out.

Since this is a family court case, it’s a closed court room, which means we can’t attend. Both the attorney and the adoption worker have graciously offered to keep us updated through text messaging. It will be important for them to be in touch with us during the court dates not just to try and ease our nervous minds, but because we’ve informed them we’d be amenable to an open adoption agreement.

While there will be added stress involved if we agree to make the kids available a couple of times a year for supervised visits with the bio family, there are also several advantages. The most obvious is that it could move things along more quickly. The bio parents might sign the open adoption agreement rather than going to trial – or they might sign it after the trial rather than filing an appeal. If that happens their parental rights would be terminated and we’d be free to adopt Sport and Sunshine.

We also need to remember that adoption is not just a celebration for a child, but also a great loss. The child may be permanently separated from their biological family members. For better or for worse, Sport and Sunshine’s bio family will always be a part of them – in their genes, their ancestry, and obviously their appearance. While the parents have not always made the best choices, it is obvious that they do care about the children. Supervised visits would allow the parents to see that the children are cared for and also allow the children to see how their bio parents are doing.

We would keep our lives private and separate from the bio parents – nothing about our private lives would be revealed, not even the city we live in. In fact, we would have to select a proxy who would be a contact point for the bio parents if we were ever to fail to comply with the adoption agreement. To protect the children, the agreement will have what’s called a sunset clause. This clause would allow for the visits to be terminated if the bio parents didn’t comply with specific requirements or if the visits prove to be detrimental to the children.

With whatever happens on Thursday and Friday, we’re going to continue to do everything we can for Sport and Sunshine. The legal aspect of their futures is completely out of our hands. We’ll just think positively and do our best to be prepared for whatever is to come.

To help with our positive thoughts here are some fun photos that bring a smile to our faces, and hopefully yours too. We took Sport on his first snowshoeing adventure:






P is for Potty

Another winter weekend in Massachusetts; another snow storm. While spending the day hiding from the cold and snow on this particular Sunday, we decided to be productive parents and we had a “potty training blitz” with Sport.

We were expecting the snow and we were fully stocked for the blitz including ‘big boy underpants,’ a froggy potty chair, lots of salty snacks including popcorn, crackers and tortilla chips, a doll that wets itself and a Sesame Street book about potty training. We were ready and it was “go time!”

potty blitz

We locked ourselves in the kitchen all morning long because the tile floor would make for an easier accident cleanup. While we were a little terrified about the idea of spending the whole day with both kids in the kitchen and only talking about going to the bathroom, Sport seemed pretty pumped about all of the attention from Mommy and Mama.

Now, we weren’t exactly starting this process form scratch, we’ve been having Sport sit on the potty for a couple months now. He was pretty consistent: we put him on the potty, he’d pee. Of course, he’d also pee in his diaper – a lot. And for some reason when he was at daycare, where they also had him sit on the potty, he rarely went; he usually sat for a minute and then just got a fresh diaper.

OK, so to the project at hand… Meg was the lead. She had read a book about the whole “potty training in a day” process. She explained the process to Sport using the doll. The doll went on the potty successfully, the doll wet her pants, and the doll practiced using the potty. Then it was Sport’s turn. We wrapped his big boy pants up like a present to make them seem even more special. He was pretty excited. They had sports balls on them, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs – all his favorites.

The blitz started off great. He used the potty a couple of times and threw back his strawberry lemonades. Then he had his first accident. And what an accident! Marcy and Sport were sitting on a blanket on the kitchen floor reading a book and at first we thought he had spilt his lemonade because there was so much liquid!

The blanket went immediately into the washer, but it wasn’t time just yet to turn it on. First, Sport had to practice racing to the potty in his wet pants and he was not a fan! Wet diapers never bothered him, but wet underwear and wet sweatpants did. The book says he should practice (go to where he was when he wet himself, rush to the potty, pull his pants down, sit on the potty, and pull his pants up) ten times. That seemed excessive to us. We had him practice five times. Then he had to clean up after himself, including using a sponge to clean up the pee that wasn’t soaked up by the blanket and taking off his wet clothes.


So, we had an accident, a very wet accident. He had a couple more accidents, thankfully not as nearly as wet, but the morning went really well. When nap time rolled around we tried to get Sport into a pair of pull-ups so we could save ourselves the hassle of having to wash all of his linens. He wanted nothing to do with the pull-ups! So we let him climb into his big boy bed with his big boy underpants and we just resigned ourselves to washing everything on his bed before bedtime.

Over three hours later, low and behold – dry pants! He also had a full froggy potty in the corner of his room. He woke up, peed in his potty, and crawled back into bed all on his own! We were proud Moms!

We of course knew it wasn’t done, but golly – what a start. Since he had such a successful nap we decided to let him escape the confines of the kitchen. He made it all the way until just before bath time that night before he had another accident. All in all a potty blitz win.

Day two of potty training was a “school day” so Sport went to daycare. He was excited to show his teacher, Mr. M, his new big boy pants. Thankfully Meg spoke with Sport’s teachers about our potty training plans and they were very supportive. We sent him to school with 4 pairs of extra pants and underwear. If he went through all of those it was on to the extra outfit that was already at school and pull-ups.

They had to change him once. Only once.

The rest of the week he had either no accidents or one accident at school, and well one of the accidents wasn’t really an accident. He peed on the potty but just didn’t get his pants far enough down and he peed in the potty and on his pants.

We’re sure accidents are still going to happen but the size five diapers in our house are now officially looking for a new home.