thursday afternoon handed me a subpeona. specifically, the vineyard town prosecuting attorney's office handed me a subpeona to testify at a contested change of placement hearing for my one remaining guardian ad litem case. i have worked with this young man since he was 10. he is 13 now. they are all difficult cases - foster care cases (which affect real children). this, however.
this is 3 1/2 years of my best social work. my most diligent advocacy. long days, long nights, long weekends. long reports. long court hearings. long conversations with him in which i wished upon everything i am and had and have and could offer that i could do more. that we could do more. that he could have more.
kid, if i could, i would give you everything.
i was expecting an hour of court. it turned into almost 4. 4 hours of surprises and a kid's attorney who became very, very assertive with a parent who was on the stand. 4 hours of three attorneys and two guardian ad litems and two parents and a total of 8 counselors. and one judge who has had it.
i couldn't stay for closing arguments. (more on that in a moment). i had to come back to portland in the early afternoon. my close confidant and worker in the trenches called me to let me know that the judge's final ruling is that we forgo reunification and pursue permanency with relatives.
voice calm, i wept. wept because this is exactly what my kid has been pleading for. wept because i know, i know, he will be safe now. wept because the system believed him. wept because we could have gotten here much, much sooner. wept because i'm tired.
and when my coworker said that the judge stated on the record how much my casework meant to him, how thankful he was that i had stayed on the case for this long, and how much he appreciated my coming back for this hearing (did he forget I was subpeonaed?), i wept a little harder.
as a general rule, we don't hear thank you.
we're not done with this case yet, but this is big. so big.
shoes plays into this story too. i bought my car 12 years ago, and it has served me well, but it is tired, too, and no longer enjoys long car trips. to ensure i could testify, over the course of 2 days, shoes drove 4 hours to portland, drove me 4 hours to the vineyard town, drove me 4 hours back to portland, and then left early this morning so he could go back to work, yes, 4 hours away in the vineyard town. honestly. really. what would i do without him? what would i do without somebody to decompress with? who else would calm me down before testifying with his specific brand of attorney soothing?
who else, when i hang up the phone and weep openly, would hand me a tissue and say, "you helped make a kid's life better today"?
i'm tired tonight. but i have a full heart.