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The high price of the foster care adoption process.
(Page three of three)
A Hopeless Situation
The weeks passed by in this manner and the court date is set. We are informed by our agency that they are not going to be allowed to give an opinion in the hearing and that they are not allowed to back us as the choice for this child because we were not allowed to petition for her by DCS.
I could not believe what I was hearing after all of these weeks of repeatedly being told to hang on that they thought that we would be the ones to get her since, we had her, we qualified legally for her, their opinion to the case workers was for her to remain with us and the fact that the father wanted to place the baby with us in an open adoption.
A few days before the hearing we were informed of a meeting between our counselor, her supervisor, the baby's attorney, and the two DCS workers that had placed the baby with us. We were informed that within that meeting that complaint had been made by the petitions of our conduct during visits and doctor visits that they were allowed to attend.
The meeting appeared to me to be one sided against us and the conduct of the petitions during those occasions dismissed as bias just before court and attempt to accuse us of wrong doing in their favor, and they did it and attempted to use this in a false way within the court hearing. My husband and I were not allowed in the courtroom during the hearing and remained in the lobby for five hours with the baby and workers of our agency the first day.
Another Court Date Scheduled
The "judge" ordered that she did not hold court after four and that the hearing would resume another day. The days passed on of the visits, doctor visits and meds and falling more in love with the baby and caring even more what would happen in the end to all concerned. The next court date came and we again were in the lobby with the baby, only this time with only our counselor and her supervisor because we were told that only persons that DCS wanted in the court room for their case would be allowed to testify.
During our wait we meet the maternal great grandparents of the baby briefly and were shocked at their seemingly lack of concern or caring for her and we also meet the family member that have adopted one of the sisters with the same attitude.
After a long wait in the lobby, I was called to testify in the hearing. Each attorney asked questions and most all of them appeared to me to be stated in a negative nature toward my husband and I. When I told the truth in my answer and I told the whole truth in that courtroom, the attorneys for DCS and the baby would shake that head no, make comments and imply that I was lying when in fact it was their clients that had lied, but the people that could and would back that it was I that was telling the truth were not allowed to testify in the hearing.
The attorney's even stooped to a new level of low and desperation to imply that my husband and I had attempted to "buy" the father because we had paid for dinner of pizza and at a later outing at cracker barrel for all present, dismissing the fact that the others could not afford to pay and that we were attempting to aid all concerned in allowing to bond in a positive environment for all of the children concerned.
False Testimony Given
The petitioner that has custody of the sister stood in the court after being addressed by the judge if she had questions to ask of me and lied and stated that we had not paid when we had visitation with her at the pizza place. She lied; I paid her 20 dollars before we left that day.
She also stated that I had screamed at her during a doctors visit and told the doctor that the baby had no siblings and when I was confused at what the question that she was attempting to ask because she was lying and I really did not know what she was attempting to say, she caused herself to be realized as the one that was in fact lying.
The hearing ended and all involved were allowed into the courtroom. The decision was given by the judge with out my being even ask that the baby was to remain in my care until she was she had completed her withdraw schedule of the methadone for the next eleven days and at that time that the baby would go into the custody of the petitioner that had attempted the adoption with the mother with no follow up review by our agency or DCS.
The Judge Rules
The judge stated that she had found her to be honest and sincere in her testimony. I could not believe what I was hearing and my heart was breaking. I leaned toward our attorney and ask if we could now petition for the baby since we were no longer her foster parents and that someone other than the state had custody of her. The attorney said not now and that she would talk to us outside.
The father raged in the courtroom at the decision and stated to the judge that he could not believe that she had given custody of his daughter to a person with so many alcohol convictions and one more recent than he had had himself. She smugly stated to the father that he could appeal her decision to a higher court but that she doubted that it would be overturned.
Outside, I cried telling my attorney that the judge had just made the decision to give a drug addicted baby from two drug abusing parents and placed her knowingly in the custody of a known alcoholic. What chance did she think that the baby would have for a normal life, with that history and that environment?
Sadly, she hung her head and stated that she did not think a very positive one and stated that she was very sorry for us for all that we had endured and that she knew that we loved this baby and wanted only the best for her and that if we still wished to adopt a child that she would aid us, but that she did not believe that attempting to adopt any child out of the foster system was the way to go based on what she had just observed in this case.
She told us that if no one else had thanked us for all of the positive things, the great care and love that we had done for this baby that she, herself wanted to personally thank us for our efforts and that she wished that things had went differently for this baby and us.
We left the courthouse knowing that we were going to lose "our" baby girl. I can not express the feelings that I had that evening, ranging from despair, sorrow, fear, rage, question, disbelief and utter heartbreak for the loss of the child that in my heart I had accepted as my own. I would not wish the emotions that I felt on the devil himself, as any woman that loves a child as it's mother and that child is forever being taken away from her would feel.
Who Really Has Custody?
The following day, during a decision of our options to attempt to find a way to keep the baby, my husband and I realized that this other person now had custody of the baby that was still in our care and became worried that if something bad were to happen to the baby that she would have the right to sue us. We called the counselor and ask if that was in fact the case.
She returned our call and informed us that the baby was still in states custody with reservation about our question of possible suite. We decided because of this that we would request that the baby go ahead and be removed from our home within 24-hours. She called back to tell us that they could not do that and at that time we requested that DCS give us written permission to apply for custody ourselves within the next 24-hours or come and get the baby.
After the calls, my husband left and drove to the courthouse to apply any way for the baby. In the clerk's office, he was told that it was a waste of time because the baby was no longer in state custody and to leave the courthouse.
Judge Orders Immediate Removal
Exiting the clerk's office, he was met by the two counselors from our agency with papers in their hands that was an order signed by the "judge" to remove the child from our home that day. I was called by our counselor and informed of the situation and told that they would be here to take the baby later that day. I told her that I would only allow her to come into my home, not DCS workers.
She informed me that her supervisor would also be coming and that they would be at my home at six that evening to take the baby. The baby began crying and it was feeding time following these calls. I prepared her a bottle and sat to rock her as always. My heart was breaking as I sang the nursery hems that I always sang to her as she ate.
I looked into her little eyes and apologized for not being able to protect her from all of the changes that were to come to her life. I again as so many times before prayed to God to show me the way to fight for this child and to show the way for her to be able to stay in "her" safe loving home with "her" two stable parents that loved and wanted her so much. I prayed that if that were not to be Gods plan then to help me to have the strength to let her go.
Throughout the entire process of all of this I had prayed many times daily for this guidance and I had planned to name the baby Faith if we had been allowed to adopt her. I believed that surely God had placed this beautiful baby with us for a reason and that her name should reflect that and that if it were decided that she would not remain with us that all I would be left with was the faith that God would watch over and protect this precious baby throughout her life and give me the ability to heal from her loss.
As I began to gather her belongings and trying to decide what of her things to send with her, my emotions overwhelmed me. I had great difficulty deciding in a rushed state what to send. What would this other person that would have the baby want that I had for her, what of the things did I think that the baby would need immediately, what were her favorite toys, etc.
I felt as though my heart would explode from the loss of this child. I sadly finished packing her belongings and dressed the baby in the pink ballerina outfit that our oldest daughter had bought for her and had requested to be put on her if she were to leave our family.
Following all of this, I walked in her nursery holding her tight and talked to her as we played her music box that she loved so much as we waited for the counselor's to arrive to take her away. It was like waiting for a death to arrive, for I knew that I would lose this child and most likely never be able to see her again. I heard the counselor's enter my home and yet I could not bring myself to exit the nursery with the baby. They came into the room and looked at my tear filled face and looked at me with such sadness in their eyes but yet a look of determination to get the job over with on their faces.
They began carrying out the baby's belongings as I stood there holding "my" precious baby crying.
The time had come for me to hand this beautiful baby in my arms that I had loved, cared for and accepted as my own to the counselor to take out of my life forever. I looked at her and with a final cry of desperation told her that this was surely the hardest thing that I had ever done in my life and that I felt that what was being done here was not "right."
She replied that she knew and took the baby into her arms. I followed them into my kitchen and they had me sign routine papers for that month required of foster parents concerning her meds. They never did show me the papers of the court order to remove the baby from my home.
It was chilly and raining that evening and I ask them if I could have the baby for a moment to put a sweater on her before they left so that she would not be cold with only a blanket over her. They allowed me to do so and I attempted to be strong and tell the baby that she was going to a new home with a new mommy and new room with new toys and that I wanted her to be "the good girl" and that I would always love, miss her and in my heart would always be her mommy and that if she ever found her way home again that she would forever be meet with open arms and love welcoming her home to her "family" that she was leaving.
The counselor's stood talking for a few moments and then said that they needed to go but seemed to be lingering not wanting to take the baby. Finally I looked at the counselor out of sheer anguish and stated, "Please! Just go, go now!" for I knew that I could not change what was happening.
I laid my head into my husband's chest as they turned to walk out of my house with the baby and cried. I could not watch them leave the room with her. I heard the door in my family room close to the outside and the cry of anguish that escaped my mouth was one of a mother that had just lost a child to death, for that was the emotional pain that I felt in losing this child.
I felt my knees give way and that I was collapsing into the floor. At the same time was being held by my crying husband. All that he had the ability to say to me at that time was, "Oh Baby, we will be okay, it will be alright."
My husband guided me to our front door for he wanted to see them leave our driveway with the baby. I think in an attempt to get a final glimpse of her and for the last time that she would see "her" parents was of them standing in the doorway of "her" home.
I could not watch this and again buried my head into my husband's chest and attempt to stand but could not without his assistance. As I heard the vehicle leave, I realized a fact would change me forever. I questioned my belief in the foster system to do what is best for a child; I questioned my ability to love so freely again and above all I question my belief in God for I was in more ways than one losing Faith.
In reflection of this trying time during our life, I feel that my husband and I were innocent victims of a system that was supposed to be designed for the best interest of children. I pray that the decisions made in this case will come to light in the future of this one child to have been so.
I now understand why our attorney's advised our attempts to adopt a child from the foster system and now understand why so many thousands of children are "locked" within this system and can not be adopted out into "good" homes.
The price is too high, the pain is too great and the use of innocent people too often. I do believe that we attempted to complete all that was asked of us, attempted to build positive relationships with all concerned and tried to give a helpless "crack baby" a loving, stable, caring home with two parents only to be abused ourselves by the system that was supposed to be designed to do so.
I will for the remainder of my life continue to grieve and question losing my very precious Faith and hoping to believe that somewhere in her tiny heart that she will remember our love.
Eastern Tennessee adoptive mom.