This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is October -November 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
Our October court hearing was supposed to be a pre-trial hearing for the Termination of Rights. At this hearing, the biological mom’s attorney asked for visitation rights to be re-instated. They had not had visits with their biological mom since they were removed from her- the second time- the previous April. So here we are in October, and her attorney is asking for visitation rights right before her rights are to be terminated. I assumed it was a formality. How very wrong I was! It never occurred to me that the judge would actually grant visitation to her again, but he did.
I was devastated! I did not understand what this meant! If she was being granted visitation rights, did this mean the judge was not going to terminate her rights? No one could answer that question for me. Our CPS Case Worker was just as stunned as I was. The State attorney, our children’s attorney, everyone involved was at a complete loss as to why the judge had re-instated her visitation rights.
These two children are child #5 and child #6 of their biological mother’s. At this point she had already had the previous four children removed from her. Her rights had already been terminated on all four of these children and they have been adopted. These two children- my children- have never even met their four older siblings.
My children were taken from their biological mom when they were just 2-years-old and 1-year-old. They were removed from her for physical neglect and abuse. My little boy (the 1-year-old) had cigarette burns on one eye-lid, and on the corner of his other eye. The day they were removed, it was winter. The month of December, though not exactly the coldest here in South Texas, still requires long sleeves- especially for a child! When the CPS Case Worker arrived at the home, the front storm door was open. The screen door was closed, and a chair was propped up against it to prevent the children from getting out. There was also a chair propped up at the back door to prevent the children from getting out the back door.
Both of the children were dressed only in diapers. No clothing at all. They were on the floor, eating from the trash can and the floor around the trash can.
Biological mom had been given temporary, semi-supervised custody of the children the spring before they came to us. She was living in a facility where she had her own apartment but there were “supervisors” on site. By this time, they were 3-years-old and 4-years-old. In less than a month they were removed from her care once again, and placed back into Foster Care, because she left them unattended in the bathtub while she went outside to talk with the other residents in the facility. My little girl was trying to shave her brother’s legs, and she sliced his leg open.
With her previous history, the judge granting their biological mom visitation again did not make any sense at all.
I knew from the very beginning that this was a bad idea. However, I had no voice in the matter. I had no choices. The judge had spoken and I had to comply with his orders. So we went to our first visit at the CPS Office.
I had never actually been to the CPS Office building. It shocked me to my very core when my little girl spoke up from the backseat, “Right there, mommy, that’s where we need to go.” I had not told them what was going to happen. I wanted to keep the anxiety down for them as long as possible. But at 4-years-old she could tell me where she was supposed to go. She knew it well. How a child so young can remember something like the location of the local CPS office is beyond me.
The after effects of the first visit were excruciating. The children had not seen her for 7 months, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there is a visit. When it was time to leave, my little girl cried. She did not want to leave. My little boy did not care, until he realized that his sister did not want to go. All I can guess is that he realized he was “supposed” to not want to go either. This is when he started crying.
That night, they both had accidents in their beds. We had not had a single problem with accidents during the night our entire month that they had been with us. But the very first night they had a visit, they both wet the bed.
This continued for a week and a half. We finally got back on track, only to have another visit the next week.
This visit was even worse. Their biological mom had arranged to have her mom be able to come to the visit as well. I was very confused to hear her talk. While CPS was telling me that they were still set to terminate rights, their grandmother was talking about her daughter getting the kids back. My heart was being ripped apart right in the middle of the CPS office, and all I could do was plaster a smile on my face and nod politely. I tried to be light hearted and encouraging to the grandmother, but it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to sit through.
Once again, that night, both children had accidents. The accidents continued for a week and a half or so and then stopped.
And then we had our third visit. The visit went the same. Their grandmother was there again, so I had to put on the cordial smile and be encouraging once again. She was telling me that she was planning to buy the kids a little plastic swimming pool to put in the back yard for when they returned home. The grandmother told me that she had told her daughter she had to stop losing her grandkids. Remember- my children are her fifth and sixth child to be taken from her.
I guess it would not have been very wise to tell the grandmother that I hoped the children never were returned to her daughter.
Again, it is not at all that I have something personal against this lady. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I respect her as the mother of my children. If it were not for her, I would not have these two beautiful children to love. But when is anyone in this entire process going to stop and actually think about what is best for these innocent children?
The aftermath of the third visit was worse than the other two combined. While we had the bed-wetting again, my daughter became aggressively violent. We had been informed that she had violent outburst when we were told about them, but we had not witnessed it at all to date. She was definitely rambunctious and did not know her boundaries, but she was not aggressive or violent.
After the third visitation with her biological mother, we not only saw it, we experienced it!
My husband’s oldest sister and her family were in town visiting for the Thanksgiving holidays. All of the children were playing together, and our daughter suddenly grabbed the glasses off of one of the other children. With one swift move she snapped his glasses in half.
When I talk with my children, I try to always physically get down on their level by bending down and looking at them in their eyes. I feel that this prevents the feeling of fear that is caused by someone towering over them. So when I bent down to get on her level to talk to her about what she had done, she pushed me. When she pushed me, she pushed so hard that I literally fell back on the floor. There was such hardness and anger in her beautiful brown eyes! I completely understand why. She had no way of understanding what was going on in her little life.
I knew immediately that this had to stop. These visits were not healthy at all for my children!
I am a documenter. My dad has taught me from a very early age to document everything. You never know when you are going to need the dates or facts to refer back to. So all along I had been communicating with all parties involved in our case.
After this event, where she broke the glasses and pushed me, I got angry! I documented the events and emailed it to all of the attorneys, case workers, and therapists involved. I was about to come unglued by this point.
After this incident, the judge finally stopped the visitation.
We soon found out that the biological mom was not doing all of her counseling and other classes.
But even with this knowledge, the court did not terminate her rights. They set the court date off for 3 more months.
And so the waiting continued.
The Purpose Of This Series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
The next chapter in this series: Do Not Be Afraid
The previous chapter in this series: Our True Battle Begins