Well ... time for another round of my favorite game: let's see how long it takes for Yca to lose her ever-loving mind with the people assigned to help children in the state of Florida!! This week, we didn't even have to get to court before I was mad. It happened before I even got there.
We last saw our heroine (me) dealing with a missed aspect of the case plan: the domestic abuse assessment, as well as an intensive parenting class for children with asperger's (this mildly came up during the hearing, but has mostly been brought up in emails over the past month). The judge gave me 30 days to complete domestic assessment, it was supposed to be done before we appeared yesterday. Every single week this month, I have emailed my attorney, and he has then emailed the DCF attorney to remind them that I need this referral. I can't just pick up the phone and call anybody to do this. DCF has to refer me to one of their care providers before I can set up an appointment. The entire month, they didn't give me this referral. Even though I knew that the ball was in their court, I don't have enough faith in the system to trust that I wouldn't get reprimanded. As for the parenting class, I received a letter on Friday stating that *all* of their attempts to reach me have failed, and I had 10 days to get in touch with them, or they would notify the judge that I'm non-compliant. Awesome, considering I don't have a single phone call from them.
To complicate matters ... because, this isn't complicated enough ... my dad got sick last weekend. Saturday night, he called me and said that he wasn't feeling great. By the time I got there, it was obvious that he was quite sick. We decided to take him to the ER, and by the time we got there, he had almost stopped breathing due to the pain. We left Red at home for the evening, with the promise that we would go get him on Sunday and let him visit Dad then. It was an extremely difficult night in the ER, but by the time we left, he was feeling better. (I'll skip to the end here, he got out on Wednesday - he has some gallbladder issues. No surgery for now, but he's seeing an excellent GI who is going to try to teach him medically. I'm *very* optimistic.)
When Red first went to live with Dad, we had several discussions about what would happen should my Dad need to the hospital. When I asked my attorney, he assured me that if Dad ever needed to go, I should contact the DCF case manager and let them know we would need help with Red, and they would take care of him. Dad and I both had separate conversations with the CM, and both times she assured us that if Dad needed to go to the hospital, Red would either go back to the youth shelter (which he was fine with) for a couple of nights, or they would find a respite foster family for Red to stay with while Dad was in the hospital. We were all very comfortable with this plan. But when Sunday came around, and we knew Dad would be in for a few days, events didn't play out quite the way we were promised. After hours of calls and text messages back and forth between me and the CM, she said that if we did either one of the options she had previously given us, it would effectively restart the entire case, they'd have to do another shelter hearing, all kinds of drama. I'll be honest, this is ridiculous. Finally, we came to the conclusion that Hubby could just go stay with Red at my dad's house. As a parent, you know you'll go the ends of the earth for your kids, and Hubby had no issue with this ... but ... there are moments when you roll your eyes, take a deep breath, and lament that the plan of attack at hand is a serious pain in the butt. Obviously, it ended up working out for us all, but the last few days have been stressful, to say the least.
So, this brings us to court last Monday. I walked in with my game face on and ready to battle. I'm just so very tired of all the baloney. I met with my attorney and let hi know what was going on, and he was equally annoyed. The first thing that we covered with the judge was my father's absence. The GAL attorney attacked us and DCF over and over again for protocol not being followed. Apparently, she was angry that no one notified her office. The judge turned his eyes on me and I said, "Your Honor, despite several requests, I don't have contact information for the GAL's office. I contacted the case manager, per my directions, and left it at that." He said that was fine, and I shouldn't have been expected to do anymore than that. (WIN!)
Next was the actual reason we were at court: the domestic assessment. Now, it is important that I state here that I wrote my attorney a scathing email about having to take this class, because their wording in the description made it sound like ... hmmm ... something like a sexual offender. You know, there is a lot of kerfluffle right now because people are fighting the sexual offender label. For example, if a doof got drunk and peed in fountain, he must now carry that label. What he did might have been stupid, but it is quite different behavior than luring children into a van with candy and puppies. If I understood this domestic assessment correctly, I would be labeled as a domestic abuser for life, and I am just NOT ok with that. My attorney asked me to be patient and we'd see what the judge had to say. Luckily, the judge that is handling the DCF case is the same judge that oversees the criminal case. The GAL attorney once again attacked me (dude, I'm so over her - you just don't even know the unkind things I say in my head when she speaks). DCF wants a domestic abuse organization to assess me, but the GAL is worried that they'll treat me as a victim instead of an abuser. (I rolled my eyes AT the judge. He smirked. It was kind of magical.) I responded with, "Your Honor, if you'll remember correctly, you were the finder of fact in the criminal case, and decided that I was the victim. I'm unsure as to why the GAL so desperately wants to deny that. I'm sure that Harbor House is qualified to decide that if I'm not really the victim, they can alert the CM." He kind of snorted a bit and said that they were, indeed, qualified to proceed with the assessment.
He then asked why the assessment hadn't been done yet. I feel the need to repeat at this point that assessment was supposed to have been ~completed~ before we walked into court. I told the judge that I'd contacted my attorney every single week since our last appearance, and had every confidence that my attorney had passed those concerns on to the DCF attorney, yet we still had not been given a provider. The DCF attorney was quite ambivalent about it saying that they would be more than happy to give me the phone number after the hearing. I turned and looked at the judge and said, "So glad that after four weeks of emailing that I drove all the way from Downtown Orlando to Kissimmee so that I could be handed a phone number." ..... and I got another smirk from the judge. The judge asked that we go out into the hallway and make the calls to the providers and make the appointments. Spoiler alert, they've somewhat been taken care of.
In the meantime, the DCF attorney had to subpoena Red's therapist because he hasn't been submitting reports. Oy. The judge called him to the stand and he made no excuses for not filing the reports, and maintains that Red and I shouldn't have any unsupervised contact. ::sigh:: The therapist that does our supervised visits is my therapist, and she things that Red and I are doing very well, and we should have no limitations at all. My therapist also thinks that Red's therapist shouldn't be making these decisions since he has never seen the two of us interact. Good grief.
Finally, I got into something of a kerfluffle with the GAL and a representative from their office. The Friday before we went to court, they called my dad AGAIN and told him that he has no choice but to adopt Red and that I shouldn't have any parental rights ever. I'm fairly certain I put this in my last update, but even the judge told the GAL's office that this wasn't going to happen. So WHY do they keep stressing my dad out? I told them that I didn't appreciate them intimidating my father, and if they called him to harass him again, I would be contacting an attorney and filing suit. Hubby thinks I might have gone too far, and he could be right. But I'm quite done with the level of stupidity this case is reaching, and I really do think that we need to stand together against this corrupt behavior.
Well, that's it for now ... I guess we'll see what is around the next corner ...