The judge has ruled on our petition and we are able to transfer Maria to BARC in Ft Lauderdale as soon as the paperwork goes through at the Agency for Persons With Disabilities. We are beyond relieved. If we had forgotten or started second-guessing ourselves, this time has been a stark reminder that we lack the resources to provide our daughter the space she needs to continue to grow, and hopefully, thrive. And if the stress had pushed everything else to one side, the reality that by this time next week, she will likely be there and we will be here, makes my heart seize up just a bit. Our beautiful girl is growing up and I have to let go some more…
In the early fall last year, I noticed that our camellia bush was covered in buds and read that they’d bloom sometime early this year. Until Maria came back with us on the 21st, I had been checking those buds faithfully each day and it seemed like they would never open up and bloom. In January, after we got hit with the hard freeze, I saw how the buds looked a little browned and frayed around the edges and I also heard they were likely to fall off without blooming.
These past two weeks, getting through each day has been about what I had right in front of me, and nothing more. When Maria woke up this morning, she was spoiling for a fight, refusing to take her meds and adamant that under no circumstances would she return to TDC. Sherod and I spent a good part of the morning with adrenaline zinging through our veins, with emails flying and phone calls back and forth to the attorney in Tallahassee. And finally, finally, the log jam has begun to clear. First, Maria’s teaching staff at her school in Tallahassee prepared a letter describing in painful detail how frequently Maria arrived to school with no grooming or personal hygiene, how resistant the TDC staff was to work with them to address this issue. With that letter, we finished gathering all the extra documentation and our attorney prepared the petition.
All the legal parties involved have agreed that the documentation we’ve provided in support of the transfer is strong enough not to require a formal hearing. If (and of course, the operant word is IF), the judge sitting in for the judge who would normally render a decision about our petition, is able to review our documents tomorrow, by the close of business, the permission may already be granted. Everything indicates that latest by Friday, the approval will come in. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities will have to follow through on a few last steps. It has helped enormously to let our girl know that it looks pretty good for us to head to Fort Lauderdale in the middle of next week. Pray God, that will be the case.
At lunchtime, during a brief lull in the drama, I went out to get the mail. A small flash of color caught my eye and when I looked, it was the camellia bush, with many of the buds beginning to bloom. They show aftereffects of the deep freeze and with another one coming tomorrow, who knows how much of a bloom we’ll get. But it was one of those moments when the only thing you can do is fall on your knees because even if it was small, and a little tattered, it was still the miracle most needed. We have to get through the next few days, but somehow, we will.
The process of getting Maria moved to BARC has gotten excruciatingly balled up in the legal system. Every day or so, we’ve been advised of one more hoop to jump through–reports, evaluations, delays because the judge is not available or because someone else has now decided they have a part to play in the process. It’s bad enough that this is running in the thousands of dollars in legal fees already. But we are no closer today to knowing when the transfer will be approved than we were 10 days ago. It gets harder each day for Maria and for the past week, I have basically had to stay engaged with her all through the waking hours to keep her on an even keel. The last three days, I have had to talk her down from the emotional ledge at least once a day. We thought we were making the right decision when we brought her home but we also knew there was risk involved. Now,we are gathering ourselves up to cut the visit short and return her to TDC until we get through the process with the court. That decision is hard for a number of reasons, but we and she all need to be safe and the longer this extends, the more the risk. We simply can’t set her up for failure.
This afternoon, our dear friends P and L had her over for a while and she got to help bake Valentine’s Day cookies. When it was time to go pick her up, I grabbed my camera and stopped and took a few shots along County Road 29. My girl’s eyes were sparkling and she was laughing when I picked her up and now it is back in the harder space of anger, fear and despair. Her dad is watching her for a while.
Cold wind blowing, more grey than light and what seems to be an interminable wait…