It's been trying these past few months, with schooling issues, behavioral issues, and the mental health needs of the children overall. The focus has been mainly on middle son (my biological son), due to how his behaviors had went south and become harmful to himself and others.
Since August son and I had picked up multiple legal charges. These were all school related, and to tell you the truth I wasn't afraid of them at first. I'd worked in law enforcement in the adult system in Missouri, and I'd seen a bit and knew the adult system worked a certain way. It is not the same in the juvenile system. I learned this quickly.
Son picked up "assault on a law enforcement officer" in August when the school resource officer came and literally pulled him out of bed and we all ended up in the sheriff's department as son fought. Long story, but ended badly. I later picked up not one but 3 counts of truancy for son while we awaited the IEP process to work. Son picked up a CINC ("Child in need of care") at the same time due to my truancy counts. Needless to say we got in kind of deep and it didn't look good.
At the first hearing, we went for the initial assault charge, and had not been summoned for anything else. While hearing the charge read for the assault, the judge decided to combine all of mine with son's, and asked me whether I wanted informal or formal supervision. I had no attorney, had not been summoned, and wasn't about to accept anything without advice. Rather than answering the judge directly, I chanced contempt and laid out my son's disabilities, as well as a timeline of everything from first day of school all the way up to that day, with accurate dates and all from memory as I was blindsided with my own charges being heard that day and didn't have my own 2 inch binder full of documentation. Needless to say the judge did get frustrated with me, and I refused to accept supervision without an attorney, so I asked for attorney and go to trial. Afterward, the DCF worker who was there in order to potentially take son right then should the court say so, told me I was doing the right thing. She was aware of the entire situation from previous meetings, as our local school had sent referral for hotline when the youngest went to school in tears the day that my son was removed from the house by the school resource officer and literally dragged out barefoot for not wanting to go to school. I, as well as a state hospital staff member who works with son, met the DCF worker in her office and went over everything, all services we have for the kids (mental health and developmental disabilities services), and interventions as well as plans for the immediate future. At that meeting she found no reason to investigate farther and dropped the complaint from the school.
Before going to initial hearing, we'd contacted HSLDA to get started with them for homeschooling--I'd officially pulled my son out and worked with him at home, and was actually showing progress academically. HSLDA talked with us about the truancy charges, and basically told us that I would face either fines of around $50 a day for each day truant, a CINC case (where if found in need son would go to foster care under state custody), or potentially jail time for me with long lasting neglect mark on my record that would follow me and not allow me to work again in any kind of child care or with developmentally disabled people. Joy. So, that's what I walked into the court room with.
Fast forward, and son went into a psychiatric residential treatment facility to address behaviors, as well as get a good solid IEP in place. He went to the only one in the state that handles autism and intellectual disabilities, and they have done very well with him. He has come a long ways, and currently is still there until probably early February.
While he started his journey into the PRTF outside of Kansas City metro, I started coordinating with a court appointed attorney and the probation officer who would be with us either informally or formally depending on how trial went. Taking a neglect charge didn't scare me. Fines didn't scare me. Potential jail time didn't scare me. Losing son to the foster care system had me nervous. A special needs child in the system, in our rural area, in a privatized system, not a good combination.
During the entire time, I prayed. I cried. I begged God to protect son, to shield him from whatever was being planned that would hurt him. God takes care of the "least of these", and I had to believe He'd do the same for son. I prayed often in tears, especially at night, for strength and wisdom, as it was hard to let son go, as well as face the opposition ahead. It was like a huge black cloud that just wouldn't go away. My prayers were for truth to come out, to show the court son and I were innocent of all those things charged against us, that if the truth was shown the judge would see for herself. Lots of people prayed, from family, church family, Facebook friends, and so on.
Move ahead to week of second hearing two months later. I didn't see a way out, so I asked to go ahead and seek the supervision, and was told I'd have the neglect on record for 6 months and it'd go away if all things went well. I'd in essence be saying I'm guilty, but in doing so stave off chances of losing son to the foster care system. I waived my rights, gave up trial, put my document binder on the shelf, and resigned to have a record, as long as it kept son from going into state system. My attorney worked it out with the prosecutor and son's court appointed attorneys and when the day of court arrived, I admit, I cried. I was frustrated in having to take charges for protecting my child, for trying to get him help, for trying to find answers for the problems he was having. I was angry. I had a horrible time wresting with forgiving and not harboring outright hatred. I kept praying, through tears, and had to keep reminding myself and hubby (son's stepdad) that God's in control no matter what. It sure felt hard to do, to keep that in mind when it felt like everything was in chaos and there was no way out.
Another of my prayers was for God to show Himself in the hearings, for Him to get the glory for whatever happened, and to make Himself known.
In the second hearing, the prosecutor dropped son's assault charge. Then, they went on to mine. The prosecutor said on record all the things that I'd been fighting about, the bullying, the use of resource officers rather than a behavioral plan (leading to son freaking out about school due to handcuffs and seclusion), and other details that I wouldn't be able to speak myself since I wouldn't be going to trial. He also said that he'd conferred with the referring party, and they decided the court did not need to be in the IEP process and was willing to go an informal route. In that, I would have a probation officer to visit, who would work with us in the IEP meetings and such to help make sure things worked out and son was able to go to school successfully and iron out problems if they arise--for us it'd be an advocate. But, since it's informal, it's not on our records. No criminal charges. No neglect referrals sent to DCF to put on my name. It's basically as if they'd never happened. After 6 months the informal thing goes away and all is completely gone. As my attorney said..."you're free to go, you don't have to come back".
Only God could have put the truth on the court record from the prosecutor's own mouth. Only God could have made those arrangements. Only God could have taken a situation that seemed impossible and turned it around. Only God could have protected my son from the foster care system, from state custody, from being separated from us as a family. He showed Himself in the last hearing. And it only took 5 minutes of court's time.
As Miss Clara said in "War Room"---"Lord, You did it again!"
He defended us as a master takes care of and defends His servants. He took care of us. He made the impossible happen. There's no way I could have done it, not with what all I learned after the fact.
It's been less than a week now. I have been singing, dancing around the kitchen, and feel like the black clouds that have been hanging over us have lifted. I feel...free. My son doesn't understand the significance, he only knows he was in a scary court room and people were deciding whether get to live at home or live in foster care. He knows he gets to come home soon to rejoin us as a family.
Whatever your situation is, don't stop praying. Things get very hard at times, and may look like impossible odds. But--God is capable of doing the impossible. He can take any situation and turn it to His glory. Step back and give Him the chance to do His work, and you won't regret it!
Shared with Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, Darling Downs Diaries
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