Our Imperfect Lives


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Visitation

One of the many responsibilities of foster/pre-adoptive parents is making the children available for visits with their biological family. Biological parents who are at least partially in compliance with their DCF service plan and have not had their rights terminated by the courts are given supervised visits with their children. In our case these visits were one hour each week, but since the DCF office is a bit of a drive from our home, the visits are now every other week for two hours.

Technically it is the ongoing case worker’s responsibility to provide the transportation to and from visits – but they love it when foster parents can help out. With us, we provide the transportation whenever we can and with Meg being a teacher, who decided to take the summer off from working (pre-kids she would work summer school and such), she’s been able to provide the transportation to and from the visits. We decided that this would make the visits a bit easier for the kids.

Not to say that the visits are particularly hard on the kids. In fact, Sport gets excited when we tell him he’ll be having a visit with his Dad. Sunshine hasn’t spent much time with her biological parents, but doesn’t seem to be impacted negatively aside from all the time in a car seat. However, recently, we’ve decided to only reveal the news of the visit once the kids pile into the car and head to DCF. And unfortunately we had to learn this the hard way.

We stopped telling Sport about his visit a day or two beforehand after a few visits didn’t happen. The first time it was that Dad didn’t show up for a visit. In his defense, the visit was changed for that week and he claims to have not been told and he showed up later that afternoon. Regardless of what actually transpired, our kids got stuck at the DCF office crying – Sport upset that he didn’t get to see his dad and Sunshine upset that she had spent several straight hours in her “bucket” also known as the carrier that clicks into the infant car seat base. The social worker, presumably expecting to leave at any minute, didn’t even remove Sunshine from her seat while in the office.

After Dad’s no show/time confusion, the social worker instituted a practice, which actually seems like a fairly common practice for many workers, that requires Dad to confirm he will be coming the day before the visit.

The next time it was on the morning of the visit. Dad had confirmed the visit the day before. We told Sport who was coming and where he was going – the social worker was coming and he was going to see his Dad. Marcy had stayed home with the kids to wait for her arrival before heading to work herself. Then, about thirty minutes before she was to arrive, we got the phone call. The social worker had a migraine and was cancelling the visit.

Sport was upset.

Thankfully, Sport recovered fairly quickly and he only cried for a short few minutes. Marcy was able to get him settled down and get both children packed up and off to daycare. While the experience could have been worse, it wasn’t one we appreciated.

This summer we’ve had two additional missed visits: one Dad cancelled and another he just never confirmed. With our new system of not telling Sport that a visit is coming up, the missed visits came and went without any fanfare.

We do find it somewhat peculiar that before this summer (excluding the supposed mix up) Dad had never missed a visit, at least not while the children were placed with us. Now (at least to us) seems like the ideal time for him to see the children as much as possible and to “make nice” with the social workers, because the trial is currently ongoing. Next week two court dates are scheduled, which another two in September and likely more to come.

Although, we certainly don’t mind the missed visits – it’s one less thing we need to worry about. And who knows, it may be strengthening the case to keep the kids in our care (or it may have absolutely no impact – who knows…?) Sport may be noticing that he hasn’t seen his Dad in a while. This morning, with no prompting, when discussing what he was going to do after preschool, he asked if he was going to see his Dad. He was not going to see his Dad after school and while a visit is scheduled for tomorrow, it had not yet been confirmed so we weren’t going to mention it. We merely responded with a, “No, you aren’t going to see your Daddy after school but maybe soon.”

Sport kept pressing, asking about going over to his Daddy’s house – “No, Sport, we’re sorry, but you can’t visit your Daddy at his house.”

Sport continued on the subject asking if Daddy could come to his house – “No, Sport we’re sorry, your Daddy can’t come visit you at our house, but maybe you’ll see him soon.”

Thankfully he didn’t ask why.

While we do of course have to make ourselves and the children available for visits and social worker meetings, we still have time to fit in lots of fun activities in this summer! Check out some more of our adventures here:

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Summer Time Fun

It’s been a while since we last shared with you all, which means a whole lot has happened (not much on the legal front) but there have been first steps, first solo swims and Meg and the kids have traversed three states – we’ve been busy!

Now, before we get into the fun stuff let’s get the handwringing, headshaking legal updates out of the way… First off, one of the most noteworthy legal developments over the last two months is that we will likely have to testify. The trial is now combined with a decision about placement, so the lawyers will call witnesses and argue not only for the question of parental rights but also where the children should be placed, if the parental rights are terminated. As a result, we’ll be presented as an adoption option/placement by the Department of Children and Families. As you may remember from a previous post, the birth parents are also presenting their own option for placement (a grandparent). Of course, it still remains to be seen when we’ll be called to testify.

The trial dates we laid out in our last post are all in the books and the lawyers burned all of their time in court questioning one witness. That’s right, they spent all that time on testimony from one person, the first ongoing social worker on the case. As a result, four more court dates have been scheduled through late September. Time will tell if more dates will need to be scheduled come September, but it seems pretty likely.

As always, we just sit and wait and hope for the best. We also take some comfort in the notion that the children’s lawyer and social workers believe the longer Sport and Sunshine are with us, the less willing a judge will be to remove them from our home. In fact, they will have been with us for one year in October – making us the longest placement for both children since they were born.

OK, we promised you fun stuff….

Let’s begin with Sunshine’s first birthday! It’s hard to think of how the day could have been any better than it was –the early morning rain clouds scattered, the sun came out to play, it was warm – but not too warm – the birthday girl was in good spirits and so were her Moms. We had about twenty adults and a handful of kids running around in the background, a table full of snacks and a grill turning out tasty food.

Our birthday girl, who had to have three costume changes because of all the messy fun she was having, was all smiles and made the happy discovery that she loves cake! She ate as much cake as a grown adult and wore an equal amount on her face, hair and shirt.

The next big adventure was a trip to Vermont, but sadly it wasn’t a trip for the whole family since Marcy and the dogs had to stay home. Even though they were short one Mom, Meg and the kids headed to the Green Mountain State to meet up with our friends and their three kids and had a great time. They got to do very “Vermont” things like feed chickens, pick strawberries and go hiking. Sport even got the privilege of sleeping in a bunk bed and in the top bunk no less. Although before he got the official go ahead to claim the top bunk for his own for the night he had to prove he could safely get up and down the very short (the top bunk was only about 4 feet high) ladder and make his way to the bathroom, which, being the athletic little guy that he is, he had no trouble doing.

We enjoy the great outdoors so naturally we’ve spent a good amount of time soaking in the sun, playing in the yard, splashing in the water and walking in the woods. And we’re lucky enough to have a pretty good sized back yard for living in a fairly dense city, so we’ve spent plenty of time out back. Sport has played almost all of the major American sports in our yard including football, soccer, baseball and basketball. He also is working to develop a bit of a green thumb by helping Meg plant and care for the vegetable garden.

In addition to the joys of gardening we’ve been teaching Sport the wonders of a walk in the woods. At not quite three years old he can spot and follow trail blazes. He also loves to find walking sticks to carry with him as we make our trek. Sunshine has also started to enjoy riding in our new-to-us child carrier for hiking. She gets to face forward and sit up nice and high and take in everything around her. She particularly enjoys when we get nice and close to a tree so she can reach out and run her tiny fingers along the rough bark.

A new favorite outdoor toy from Sunshine’s birthday was a water table, which has brought a splashing good time in the backyard, but not the only fun splashing the kids have taken in this summer! We also took a trip to a park with a splash pad with our friends and their two year old daughter. Sport wasn’t a huge fan of not knowing when the water was going to spray and while he wouldn’t get too close to any of the water elements he managed to have a splashing good time. Even Sunshine, who was under the weather, enjoyed the park – maybe a little too much since she kept trying to crawl across the paved splash pad, scraping up her knees.

And yet the splashing fun didn’t end there! We’ve been taking full advantage of Meg’s parents’ pool. Sport started off the summer being very hesitant about swimming, even with his new life jacket he doesn’t like to be in the pool without having contact with an adult, even if it was just a hand on the life jacket buckle. However, fast forward a few pool sessions and he’s finally able to “swim” a little on his own. He swam from Marcy to Meg a whole five or so yards apart. It’s not much but it’s a start!

In other big milestone news Sunshine took her first steps! She started about a week before she turned 13 months old with only 2 teeny tiny steps! Of course they happened pretty quickly and she didn’t want to do it for the camera so we didn’t get any video or photographic documentation but we’re excited that we were both in the room when it happened (only Marcy was there for her first crawl). It’s been a couple weeks now and she’s only up to about 4 steps at a time. She still prefers to crawl because boy oh boy is she fast when she crawls now!

We recently took the kids to Marcy’s old college stomping grounds – Portland, Maine. We visited the children’s museum and the Portland Headlight. Meg’s cousin and her husband live nearby with their daughter who is two weeks older than Sunshine, so we hit a nice park in Portland and swung on the swings, raced down the slides and played in the sand. We also stopped at a tasty BBQ restaurant where Sunshine drank from a cup using a straw for the first time while her forgetful Mom had to run out to the car to retrieve her sippy cup.

We did so much so far this summer we just can’t even cover it all in this one blog but here’s a quick rundown in photos of our summer so far:

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And we still have a lot more fun planned for the remainder of the summer – Meg will actually be taking the kids on another road trip this coming week while Marcy stays home and we still have the YMCA Family Camp at the end of the summer. It is important to note that before we took off on any out of state escapades we received permission from DCF to do so. Also, when planning any of our trips we must plan them around the children’s bi-weekly visits with their birth father at the DCF office.


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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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Cha-Cha-Changes

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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Spring has Sprung

Spring has sprung and we’re sure keeping busy! All of the snow has finally melted and our lawn is starting to show shades of green and the park down the street is teeming with activity, so of course, Sport wants to spend every waking moment running around outside. We’ve played hours of baseball, basketball, football and soccer, but Sport isn’t the only one keeping us on our toes. Sunshine is now on the move – she’s started to crawl!

The busyness is a great way to keep our minds off the upcoming court dates. We have absolutely no control over the outcome of the case, we won’t be present in the courtroom, and we won’t be called as witnesses, so it does us no good to obsess over it. Of course we’re still going worry if our minds have the time to contemplate it – so we don’t give ourselves much time.

To give you a glimpse into how we’ve welcomed spring we decided that photos can say a lot more and are a heck of a lot more fun to look at then paragraphs of words, so here you go, our spring so far…

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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:

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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:

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