The parents were absent again today. Did anyone really think they would show up?
Today ended the hearing. There were only 3 witnesses that actually testified and a lot of information entered into evidence as well as the closing arguments.
When court began, the first witness was (S)'s therapist. She gave what was in my opinion very compelling testimony as to the impact that the parents have had on (S)'s life and most likely on all the children's lifes. She was very concerned about the potential regression if she were to be reunited with her parents. She said there would be extenisve counselling required with the parents and she has had 5 meetings set up with mom and mom has been a no-show at 3 of them. This lack of committment would not allow for the necessary counselling to take place. She also said that when she did have the chance to meet with mom, she was not truthful with her. This certainly would not be helpful in counselling.
After that there was a lot of legal manueverings taking place and meetings in chambers that we were not privy to. It seems that there were some problems with getting witnesses to arrive on time and other things to occur. It wasn't until about 3 1/2 hours after the recess that court reconvened. There were only two more witnesses called. Both of whom were testifying to the fact that mom and dad were spending a lot of time together and were certainly not separated as the first judge had thought.
It was then time for closing arguments. The longest argument went to the District Attorney. You could tell he didn't want to miss anything or leave anything out. He wanted to make sure that the judge had as much information as possible to terminate parental rights. I think he was successful, although he may have gotten a little carried away. I say that because at one point when he said "This is like overtime"....The judge interupted and said "When we get to the sports analogies, we have probably heard enough. Your closing argument has been longer than your case."
The lamest argument has to go to dad's lawyer. This is no reflection on the lawyer who is certainly competant and the type of a guy I think I could be friends with, but the fact that he had the lamest client any lawyer has ever had to put up with. I think dad not showing up only helped him through this hearing.
The most well thought out argument was the one made by the mother's lawyer. While it seemed to be well thought out, it didn't seem to be of significant substance, and i don't think swayed the judge much one way or the other.
The best closing argument has to go to the GAL. He was very passionate in his advocacy for the children. He emphasized the fact that these kids have been in limbo for almost 2 years and it was time to get the kids the stability they need. The best part of his argument, and the states case for that matter, was that all five childen have permanancy plans in place. There are foster parents with all 5 kids who are ready, willing, and able to adopt. We all know each other so there is high probablilty that the siblings will maintain contact. During his entire argument, the judge seemed to be connecting with what he was saying. She was nodding her head and paying close attention to what he said. She had no questions for him as he was complete with what he said and clarification was not needed.
So now it is up to the judge. She has mounds and mounds of evidence to analyze and then has to determine if the state has met its burden to terminate the parental rights.
Unforunately, of fortunately, depending on your position, it is the judges job to decide the case on the law. While what is best for the children has to enter into her thinking to some extent, if the state has not met its burden as outlined in the law, then the termination can not be granted. If on the other hand, the burden has been met and there is a belief that the children will be in jeopardy if the TPR is not granted then there is no choice but to grant the TPR. I would love to have a decision before Thanksgiving, but I think before Christmas is more likely.
It would be a wonderful Christmas present to be able to let these kids know that there will finally be some stability in their life. I hope Santa can bring them that.