John and I took off early today to get to court in time in the upstate. Yesterday the SW told us that we didn't have to go because not much was going to happen. However, she wanted us to go. We really try to go to all our kids court dates whether they are hours away or not. You just never know who you will see or what you will learn. Your presence can actually have an impact.
We showed up with lots of pictures for family members. One of the girls grandmothers came and we gave her a collage of pictures. That immediately made us one of her favorite people! Pictures have so much power.
If you have ever been to one of these court days you know how it is, hurry up and wait. We are military so we are used to it. There is a benefit to the waiting. I had an opportunity to talk with the GAL, grandmother and SW at great length. Each person gave me just a little more information.
The GAL told me that our home was the first "normal family" home that the girls have been in. She has watched them get worse and worse with each move. Two of their placements have been in children's homes. She says that they aren't the same girls that came into care 6 moves ago. I find it surprising that they have had the same GAL for almost 3 years and she can see what an impact foster care has had on the girls. I also find it sad that she considers our home to be their first real family experience. I know that not all foster homes are equal but it seems like the girls got sent to all the worse homes that their county had to offer. I had a feeling that they had been in some restrictive environments when everything we did was the girls "firsts", first movie, first zoo, first circus. The GAL was also upset about the fact that the last placement told the girls that they were going to adopt them and then didn't. She was first concerned about their move to our house because it was so far away but now she is happy about where they are.
The grandmother gave me lots of family information. She loved her pictures so was very open and approves of us adopting. She does believe that the girls should be adopted. I did get some good medical information as well as some gossip.
The SW told us that the dad may sign relinquishment at court. She told him that we had come so he decided to sign. We couldn't talk to him because he was transported from jail. Dad had been visiting the girls. On the first visit he asked if he could meet me and I said sure. We met and talked. After that first visit I would make a point of talking with him about the girls and bringing him pictures. One day the SW told me that he was thinking of relinquishing but wanted pictures. I told her that if he relinquished that we would send him pictures. She was shocked. She said that none of her families were ever willing to send pictures. Most of them weren't even willing to meet the bios. When possible, I think that developing a relationship with the bios is in the best interest of the child.
When we got to court they brought the dad in and he nodded to us. We nodded back. We acknowledged him. He told the judge that he wanted to sign the relinquishment papers. He said that we offer the girls everything that he wished he could give them but can't. He kept looking at me and I would nod to him. I know that he was wondering if I would keep my word about the pictures. I know that the relationship that we had developed on those visitation days helped him to make that decision. I know that driving 2 1/2 hours to attend court had an impact.
Dad signed away all his rights so he will no longer have visitation. We are half way done.
Biomom...well she didn't show. We now have to get TPR on mom. The SW is hoping that now that dad signed, mom might decide to do the same. I hope so. It would be nice to finish this adoption this year. If not, we now expect to get TPR on the November court date. That would mean that the adoption would take place the first of the year.
In other adoption news......we received paperwork in the mail today for our teen from adoptions. Her adoption worker has to make an addendum to our homestudy and update everything so she is ready for signing in 30 days. We put the paperwork in our mailbox for her to pick up in the morning. She expects the adoption to be completed by November at the latest.