I pulled into the parking lot and who should call me but bio mom.
Her: "What is Lizzy doing?"
Me: "She is at home with my husband because I am at your trial."
Her: "Oh, was that today? My lawyer called me, but I didn't answer because I told her I was done with this."
I assumed she wasn't coming before this phone call, but the "Oh, was that today"...that kinda annoyed me.
I arrived quite early and watched all the lawyer and social workers trickle in. I sat in the waiting room and chatted with both workers that came from my agency (they were early! I was thrilled!) and then a little after 10 am, when the trial was supposed to start, someone on the loud speaker called all the lawyers into the court room. 40 minutes later (10:40 am now) we found out all that time was to try to reach there clients (bio mom and legal dad) who had not shown up. As we found out what was going on we could hear bio mom screaming on the phone on speaker phone. We were in the waiting room-she was on the phone in the court room and we could still hear her. Her lawyer asked her if she would like to participate by phone.
Mom said: "Will you guys reimburse me for all my phone minutes because I am not using them up for this trial. My mom is dying right now and no one cares. I didn't have a ride up there. Can we reschedule this hearing? I did everything I had to do and you won't give my kid back."
...and then hangs up on her lawyer.
Legal Dad's lawyer tries to call him, but his phone has been disconnected. She said she has tried to call him before the hearing, but could not reach him at that time either. She sent him letters in the mail, but got no response. Bio Mom and Legal Dad were both served in person with court orders to appear in court so there is proof that they were made aware of what was going on.
So, we all go into the court room. I assumed that Mom's lawyer and Dad's lawyer would just stay and represent them. Instead, the judge said that based on their clients actions they had the option to withdraw from the case if they wanted...and they did. They left the room two minutes into the trial and are no longer representing them at all. (from what I hear this is good because if they want to appeal they will have to get their own lawyers-don't quote me on that).
Then, the DHS worker called his first witness, Lizzy's worker that wrote the termination petition. They went through the WHOLE petition and verified everything that was written in it. Then, they had the current worker on the stand verify all the current information. It was very detailed. Lizzy lawyer verified a few things just to make sure they were put on record.
The two biggest things that "made the case" was the lack of consistent visitation on both of their parts even when the agency provided transportation to both of them and their lack of stable housing. Mom has been moving from house to house and dad's house is in foreclosure.
There were MANY other things brought up.
Use of Drugs
Lack of Completing Services
Refusing to take Drug Tests
Lack of Relationship with the child
Lack of Completing Services
It went on and on. My favorite was when the judge specifically brought up Lizzy having fleas on her after her visits with her Legal dad and a dead mouse being found in a bag of clothing he gave me for her. She said, "What kind of house IS this?!?!"
So, after they heard from both social workers the judge went over Petition to Terminate AGAIN word for word (all 4 pages) and the Judge corrected about 4 sentences in it. Then she brought up every law that pertained to this case and why it would apply in order for her to go ahead and terminate the rights of each parent.
She then said that it was BEYOND reasonable doubt that both of these parents should not even be alone with this child, forget about returning her to them. She went as far to say that even letting them see her in a room supervised by another person present some risk of harm to the child...and then she terminated their parental rights.
And I got all teary.
It had been hard for me to listen to all of it. We have been through so much. For it to all be over was just too surreal.
She then asked if we would like to end this trial and have the Post Termination Hearing right then and there. Everyone said yes.
She asked me if I would come up front by her and as I got up from my chair, 7 months pregnant and all, I started crying. I apologized and said I was sorry I was so emotional. She offered me a tissue and smiled at me and said she understood.
She then chatted with the social workers about what needed to happen in order for us to adopt Lizzy, and about how she didn't want it to take long. I asked how long they had to appeal and it sounds like if a few months we will be safe and sound. I guess in 14 days they start the adoption process even if anyone wants to appeal or not.
At the end I told her thank you. She said, "No, thank you. I would have never let this drag out if about half way through it looked like mom might pull it together, but now it is done. Thank you for sticking it out."
I have seen this judge in court three times. She is a total Judge Judy and I wouldn't want to be on her bad side. Seeing her face change as soon as we were talking about adoption was priceless. You can tell she likes that part of her job. She was so sweet and told me that I didn't need to drive out there for the hearings anymore, but I was always more than welcome in her court room. She said that they will let me be on speaker phone for the other hearings if I want and she wants me to feel free to tell her any concerns I have with how the adoption is progressing. She was so sweet to me.
It truly was amazing.
Lizzy has been set free.
And I know God did that.