In May, we went to family court to start to determine what was going to happen as far as Mary’s permanency was concerned. Mary’s birth mom felt that if she didn’t commit to signing a Conditional Surrender ([CS]signing over your parental rights with certain conditions attached) she would never be able to see her daughter again. She figured that the court would see her as unfit and decide in our favor and that the termination of her rights by the court and not of her own volition, is not what she wanted. Signing over her right would allow her to negotiate the terms of the surrender, and she would essentially be in charge of her own fate.
Before court that day, in fact, once they switch Mary’s track from reunification to adoption, Callie and I had been discussing what the conditional surrender would look like if Mary’s birth ever even considered it an option (initially was very adamant that she would NEVER, EVER sign a surrender!). We decided initially on no visits and bi-annual emails. Eventually, we put our own feelings aside when we really started listening to Mary and what she wanted. She absolutely wants to be able to see her mother and her baby sister and loves them dearly. Having grown up without knowing or having access to my biological father has affected me in ways that I didn’t even know until multiple therapist have brought it up! After really talking this one out, we wanted what was best for Mary emotionally, developmentally, and mentally. We figured keeping her connected to her birth mom was important for her, and as her moms, we wanted to make that happened.
A few days after all of the paperwork was signed in court, we doubled down on our promise to Mary about keeping her connected to her birth family by sending her mom an email. We wanted to makes sure that if we were going to begin to foster a relationship with B-Ma (Birth Mother), we wanted to establish some ground rules and really, tackle the elephant in the room. That BY LAW we are now her mothers, and BY LAW she was not. Callie and I sat over the course of the next couple of days deciding the best way to address our current predicament. Callie has a much more gentle and well rounded approach. I am a lot more direct and tend not to sweeten or soften things up, so most of our time was spent reviewing the email and her telling me that I can’t call her a ” drug addict who needs to get her life together because you have two kids that aren’t in your care, and how many damn chances do you need?!?!”. We sent an email expressing our concerns about beginning a relationship with her and how her behavior and inability to be consistent and present for Mary is detrimental to her. That in order for our relationship to work and for her to be a part of Mary’s life besides the 4 quarterly visits a year, we needed to be able to trust her. We needed to be able to take her word. We needed to be able to communicate effectively. That we needed to see for ourselves that she was committed to being an active member of Mary’s life. Of all those things though, our emphasis was TRUST, because honestly the only information that we have to go on and the only experiences we have with her have proven to us that “trustworthy” is probably the last quality would we would think of to describe her. In fact, if actually asked that question, I don’t think “trustworthy” would be a word that we would even think about! But, we sent the email. And, she responded, an was so happy and excited that we were willing to give the opportunity to be in her daughter life. We’ve been corresponding quite a bit. In fact, she even bought Mary a ton of summer clothes and sneakers, a new writing journal for her stories, and underwear and socks.
In compliance with the CS, we’ve been in touch with Mary’s caseworker (since she is technically still a ward of our county, Dept. Of Social Services is still responsible until adoption is fully granted) who is responsible for setting up the first meeting of these quarterly visits. After going back and forth most of July with B-Ma about making arrangements for a visit in August, they decided that Mary’s Visit with B-Ma would be 8/2. Our worker ended up having a family emergency that day and had to reschedule. So they did, for 8/9, but because of transportation issues with Mary going to camp outside of our county, they had to reschedule the visit again to submit a request for out of county transport and it required 14 days to approve. Visit now scheduled for 8/24. After emailing a few times, and B-Ma being in contact with the caseworker, everything was on track. Wednesday morning, we sent Mary to camp with one of the outfits her mom had given her and a huge smile on her face. She boarded the bus, gets to the facility, meets her worker, hugs him, gets in the elevator and heads up to the visiting room only to find out that B-Ma….
Didn’t show up! She didn’t freaking show up! After all of the emails, all of the confirmations, all of the arranging and re-arranging to accommodate her! After a clean drug test 3 days before. After having discussed in detail what her missing visits does to our daughter and how it is so detrimental to her! After all of that and you don’t show up?!?!?! Are you serious!?! And you want to know why?! Because her boyfriend, the new babies father, didn’t leave her a Metrocard (A $2 and 75 cent fucking card!) to take the bus, and she didn’t bother calling, better yet, EMAILING the worker who has NO ACCESS to his computer during a visit, until 11:20 when the visit started at 11! You guys! You have to read her email and her desperation to see her daughter because 3 months is “the longest I have gone without seeing my baby”, which is bullshit because she disappeared for over 6 months a year and a half ago! And then you don’t fucking show up?! So, our worker, who is incredible, took Mary outside to the waterfront, to eat Icee’s and play I-Spy, and after the hour was up, put a really upset kid back on a bus to camp, to sit in her own sorrow the rest of the day.
Luckily, it seems like Mary is kind of over her B-Ma, and we’re cool with that. I think that she is starting to recognize that her mom is just never really gonna be good at making the right choices. Despite the days events, she was in one of the best moods I had seen her in all summer. I think the concert at the park, gourmet grilled cheeses for dinner, unlimited use of my Pokemon GO app, and ice cream cones before bed helped make it better, for sure! But I couldn’t let it go! I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. And Callie edited, edited edited! And an email was put together reminding B-Ma that that was strike one of two, and that we aren’t going to be doing this anymore. That Mary is our daughter and we treat her and love her like our own flesh and blood. That she is our first baby, and that as parents we would do anything to protect her from being hurt. That we would do anything to ensure her happiness. And that we would not allow her to continue to hurt her. No, we will NOT be rescheduling your visit. You can see her in November. And NO, we will not make up lies and tall tales to protect Mary from your inconstancy. And mainly that we, unlike the system, are not paid/inclined to give her a million chances, and that we will absolutely, without question, no longer tolerate all of your fuckery!
She hasn’t responded. Not sure if she will. Callie blames her missed visit on forgetfulness. I blame the forgetfulness on pregnancy brain…oh yeah, I filed to mention…She’s pregnant again…