Where to even begin. My heart is constricting just thinking about it again. I wish I could sit here and say that my heart was calm and composed, that I felt prayers spoken for this time, that I was able to do this. I wish I could.
A little background, Liam's bio dad has a violent past. He is in jail and will be for quite a while, but I'm sure he has "connections" around here and is a member of a gang. Not 100%, but pretty sure from what I've heard. It's a bit scary.
Previously, once I knew bio dad would be in the court room when I gave my testimony for this best interest hearing in Liam's termination, I had spoken to the agency supervisor about not using my name in court. He assured me a few days later that he had spoken to the state's attourney and GAL and they would only use my first name and not my last. I had banked on this. I was prepared for questions related to raising Liam for the past almost two years of his two and a half years. Imagine my shock when the first thing I was asked upon sitting in the stand was to speak and spell my first and last name. I couldn't believe it. I just looked around the court room, hoping that the agency supervisor, who was present, would speak up and say something about having spoken to someone previously about my last name not being used. Oh no, he just grinned and shrugged. The judge said, "It's not a trick question..." I wanted to crawl in a hole. I started practically hyperventilating and was heaving and crying through speaking and spelling my first and last names. Then they proceeded to ask me where I worked! And what I taught! They had to get me kleenex! I could barely speak.
How can that be safe? How can that be the norm? How can they allow case after case of foster parents in this for caring for children to give testimony and witness against some pretty violent people while letting them know your names and work places? And I was supoena'd, it wasn't like I had a choice to be there. I couldn't not answer once I was on the stand. How can they do that??? I don't understand how that is ok???
After that they went on to the questions I had been prepared for: how long has he lived with me, what does he call me, what does he call the other children in the home, what do we do as a family, what was he like developmentally upon arriving in my home (at 9 months he could not sit up, crawl, etc, and was barely using one sound to "communicate"), what I did to address his developmental concerns, etc...
Once I was dismissed and sat back down, the judge began talking about what was happening today at this hearing and bio dad yells, "Subject! .... Subject!" - pretty sure he was meaning Object. He began saying how he/Liam (not his birth name by the way but what I am naming him) sat at 2 months and he would know because he's his dad, etc. I knew exactly what he was talking about, he was mad at my testimony. MINE. The rest of the people there weren't totally paying attention to him and acted like he made no sense. He did say a few other things I didn't understand, but I think he was meaning something as in when he said Subject for Object... but they didn't know. Bio dad had to BE REMOVED FROM COURT because he was so mad and getting out of control! He was in shackles, but they still removed him! And he did not get to come back! I could hear him all the way in the court room yelling! While he was out the judge asked if he had mental issues, like I said they thought he was incoherrent. (Maybe because I teach special ed, but I really did understand where he was going with what he was saying.) His lawyer said that, Yes, he was being treated for mental issues!!! She then said that the correction officers did not think he should return to the court room. And the judge went on to terminate rights.
Afterward, his atty came up and congratulated me (I know her from a church I went to for a while). She said something about it being a hard day (referring to my tears and barely being able to talk) and I said, I really didn't want him to know my name. She was so nonchalant and said that the state's atty is young and forgets things like that. OH. My. Gosh! I just do not understand. How can they not understand that that is not safe. I'm single no less. And he can go online now and look at my school's website which has a picture of me and my name and an email. My last name is not hard to remember. I'm still in shock. I can't even process this fully. My dad suggested I write a letter to the agency, state's atty, and judge. I think I will. If you have any ideas for things to include, phrases, sentences, verbage as a friend would say, I'm all ears. It's hard for me to put my thoughts together very coherently right now. But really, what good will it do now? Who will protect my baby if his bio dad decides to try to "get" him? Who will protect myself and my other children? They don't live in my home.
2 months ago