Today Mario and I left Joy with the babysitter and headed to family court for the first time since becoming foster parents. We wanted to show our faces to the judge, so she would know that we are serious about our want to adopt this kiddo.
We packed for a long wait. Books, snack, phones charged. We got there just when we were supposed to. Of course I was pulled out at security because I had scissors in my purse and my pokey self defense key chain. While I walked my contraband back to the car, Mario checked in.
When I got back, I found out we were waiting for the list of hearings to find out where we needed to go. After about 45 minutes, the list came out and Mario got in line. After what seemed like a very long time, I got up to see where he was and found him just walking up to the desk. Long story short, She was listed under a incorrect last name. After a long search and lots of double checking birthdays and hearing numbers...we were on our way upstairs. The whole time Mario kept saying "I hope we didn't miss the hearing. We were stuck down there for so long"
Upstairs we got off the elevator to the holding pen. It was a huge room with tons of families waiting around for their time in the court room. Some seemed to know the drill well and brought games and activities for the kids. Some families were quiet. Some families were just enjoying the visit with their kids. It was nice and strange all at the same time.
Around this big "L" shaped room on outside part of the L were a bunch of smaller rooms where the trials were held. There were layer types walking in and out of rooms and into other rooms. Randomly a bailiff would walk out and call a name. Some of the lawyers would call out names and others were just hanging out waiting for their time in the courtroom.
We waited around awkwardly not sure what to be doing. We were told to check in with the bailiff, however, we didn't see our bailiff for a long time. After the name mix up downstairs, I was texting with Joy's social worker, trying to make sure we had the correct name and also throwing in a last minute request to take Joy on a cruise in June for my birthday.
Now I needed to find her attorney among the waves of people coming in and out of the court rooms. I asked a few people to no avail. Finally, finally! Around 11am I saw our bailiff come out. I ran up to him to check in...and found out that her trial had been first thing in the morning. Mario had been right...we missed it. I was so bummed!!
I really wanted to be able to show the judge that we were there and serious. This court hearing was for TPR. Termination of Parental Rights. If they granted the request for TPR, this will open up Joy for adoption. After a year of fostering, we are skeptical and hesitant about things. This is a big step for Joy and us. We wanted everything to go well...missing the hearing was not part of the plan!
Luckily the bailiff was just so nice. First he asked where the heck we had been...we explained sitting out there waiting to see him and also stuck downstairs with a name mix up. He went back in the court to find out the outcome of the hearing and to hopefully find Joy's attorney. The attorney was gone already. However, he kindly told us (after asking us if we were wanting to adopt Joy) that TPR had been granted and that meant that she was now free for adoption.
Cue the crying! I cried walking to the elevator, I cried walking to the car, I cried driving to our celebratory lunch, I cried texting my family and calling our social worker to find out what is next.
We came home and spent the rest of the day enjoying Joy. Excited about the prospect of adopting the awesome little girl and a little sad for her family. This is a learning process and journey I hadn't thought we'd be going on...but I love it and know it's what we are supposed to be doing.