Our Imperfect Lives

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Legal Rigmarole

So far there have been a lot of legal steps that have gone into Sport’s and Sunshine’s DCF case and we’re certainly not anywhere close to being done with the courts and the lawyers and the motions and arguments and all the fun legal rigmarole. However, up until this point, none of them had really involved us – but that all changed about two weeks ago.

We received a phone call from our adoption worker who informed us that we needed to speak with the DCF attorney regarding a motion involving the release of our home study. The attorney told us that bio Dad’s attorney wanted to present another adoption option and in order to do so needed to see what other adoption option (us) they would be competing with. We were also told that the other adoption option was to be Sport and Sunshine’s grandmother, so we assumed this was Dad’s Mom and there was a new player in the game. As it turned out, the grandmother referenced in relation to the motion was bio Mom’s mother, who had already been denied by DCF as an appropriate placement. Of course that was little comfort.

After speaking with a few other adoptive parents we learned that it’s pretty common for birth parents to present last minute adoption options either as an attempt to stall the court proceedings or as a hail mary to keep the child or children close and/or in the family.

What was apparently uncommon was the request to have our home study released. No one we’ve talked to about the situation – adoptive parents, foster parents and even our adoption social worker – had any experience with such a request.

Both the DCF attorney and the children’s attorney expressed to us that they would argue against the release of our home study. We don’t know the details of all their arguments, but the children’s attorney argued that any adoption placement proceedings, including the release of our home study, is irrelevant until the termination of the parental rights (TPR).

The TPR arguments were scheduled for the following week.

Now, if the home study was to be released it would be redacted and supposedly never make it into the hands of the bio parents – only their attorneys. Nevertheless the bio parents would find out some of what it says, including that we’re a same sex couple, which we don’t think they knew about prior. And even redacted – it’s a very personal document. The dad’s attorney may not get to see our names, the city we live in or our places of employment but the whole document, all 15 pages of it, is about us. It tells about our coming out stories, our relationships with our families and each other, our decision to start a family through DCF, our thoughts on parenting and more. It’s a pretty deep delve into our lives.

The document is so personal that a couple of the experienced foster/adoptive parents that we asked about this situation were not only surprised, they actually worried that if prospective foster parents knew that their home studies could get released they might reconsider fostering.

The impending release of our home study didn’t change anything for us and while we were far from overjoyed with the idea, we weren’t so distressed that we’d head into court to try and fight it, which was an option. We had nothing to hide. Yes, they would find out we’re a same sex couple, but in our great liberal state of Massachusetts where we lesbians have all the same rights as heterosexuals and legally cannot be discriminated against solely on the premise that we’re lesbians, we’re not too concerned about our “big secret” being let out of the bag. Our only concern with being revealed as a same sex couple was that dad would be distracted by it when visiting with the children or look for petty reasons to complain about the kids’ care simply because he didn’t like us.

A week later the date rolled around for the motion to be heard in front of the judge and the dad’s attorney won. DCF handed over a redacted version of our home study.

The next trip to the court room for the attorneys was on the docket for the following week – at least it was, but the court dates were pushed forward for reasons unknown to us.

We’re not holding our breath for any good news on the legal front. New court dates have been scheduled for Tuesday, June 2Friday, June 19, and Monday, July 8, but time will tell what actually happens on these days. Since it’s in family court the courtroom is closed and we cannot be present. Nor will the kids be present at any time.

We’ll hear about the hearings in the abstract, if we’re lucky. However, if the bio parents agree to relinquish their rights and sign an open adoption agreement, then we’ll be contacted.

As always, we’re trying to keep this from putting too much of a damper on our days. Right now we’re a couple of lucky ladies with two beautiful kiddos living under our roof and while they both drive us a little batty from time to time we love having them in our lives. We’re continuing to show these two nuggets, Sport and Sunshine, what family, love and fun is all about.

The kids joined us for our annual pilgrimage to the cape for Memorial Day weekend and they had a blast! And just in case you don’t believe us, here are a few photos from the beach to give you a glimpse at how awesome the weekend was:

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Legal family or not – boy are we lucky!

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While the changes David Bowie once sang about seemed like a normal part of life, the changes our children are going through shouldn’t be a normal part of life.  Sport and Sunshine have been with us almost seven months and we’ve seen so many adults in their lives leave with little more than a good bye. They’ve had their early intervention worker changed twice, had their ongoing worker changed twice, and will soon have their adoption worker changed as well – and this is only since they’ve been living with us. Prior to coming to our home they had already been through a couple of social workers and at least one early intervention specialist.

Needless to say, Sport and Sunshine haven’t had much consistency from the adults in their short little lives. While we are the only home that Sunshine has truly known (she was fortunate enough to be placed in only one foster home besides our own home), Sport has already known many homes other than our own.

People say children are resilient, but they shouldn’t have to be. The adults in their lives are supposed to protect them and care for them. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

The part of all these changes that we find truly upsetting is that some social workers (and by no means all – some are absolutely amazing, and yes we’ve been fortunate enough to deal with some of the truly good ones) seem unconcerned about going to a child’s daycare and picking them up without ever meeting them or talking to them prior. When a social worker is removing a child from a home that is an entirely different situation and there is perhaps nothing that can be done about that unfamiliarity and suddenness, but a scheduled visit with biological parents is a completely different situation. These visits are usually planned out weeks in advance and are not an emergent situation.

We understand that social workers are busy and might not be able to always make it out to a child’s home before a scheduled visit. We accept this and we’re willing to have a chat regarding the impending pickup by a stranger, but all that we ask for is a friendly looking photo to refer to during our discussion with our child. We want to assure our child that a friend will be picking him up from school. Unfortunately the only photo that was provided to us was a work ID with a very serious expression. An institutional ID photo with a stern look is not a good representation of a friend, or anyone a child might want to spend time with.

Our child has been moved by social workers on several occasions, so we want him to know what’s going on and who he’ll be seeing. Equally important is the notion of “stranger danger,” which he has absolutely no understanding of. Most of his life he’s been asked to go with people he doesn’t know and this is not something that should make him feel comfortable. While we of course don’t want our children to be afraid of the world, we know it can be a scary place, and we want to exercise certain precautions. One of those precautions is teaching our children not to hop in a vehicle with people they don’t know.

All that we want is for social workers to be a bit more understanding of our concerns. We’re not trying to inconvenience anyone, but our job as foster/pre-adoptive parents is to look out for our children. They don’t have many people in their lives that have stuck around and stood up for what is best for them, and that’s what we want to do.

Obviously our children also have to go through some changes that all kids have to face, including advancing through school and getting new teachers. Last week Sport started his transition from his toddler classroom to preschool! The timing is less than ideal with all of his other changes. However, even though we love his toddler room teachers, we’re excited for him to move up and be around older children. He seems to be doing very well in the new classroom so far.

Well, while we do our best to manage all of the new faces and changes – we’re going to go about our lives much as we have for the last six months. Even though our schedules have been busy, we’ve made time for some fun too! We were able to get out and enjoy some of the recent beautiful spring weather and take advantage of one of our Christmas gifts – a membership to the zoo.

Our visit to the zoo also included a very familiar face, Grammie, aka Meg’s mother Brenda. Together we saw a wolf, snakes, flamingos, and so much more including two sleeping brother bears – it was the closest we’ve ever been to a bear!

Enjoy a few photos from our zoo adventure:

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