Last Friday I took you up to a change in a child's goal. You can read that post here.
Return Home-5 Months
If a child has this goal then the courts have oked them to return home anytime in the next five months. Children begin increasing visits, eventually doing overnight visits.
Substitute Care Pending Termination
In order to terminate a parents rights theymust go through a trail. The courts will first have a "Pre Trial". At this the parents are "charged" with termination of rights and ordered to do services. It's typically a simple, 5 minute session.
A Termination Hearing is LONG. It is typically all day, possibly longer. It rests on the State to provide proof that the parents' rights. A Termination Hearing is broken into two parts: Fitness and Best Interest. In Fitness the Judge is trying to decide if the parents are "fit" or "unfit". Like a trial you would see on tv both sides will call witnesses and question them. Next is "Best Interest". Basicly they are trying to decide what the best interest of the child is. Just because a Judge finds a parent unfit does not mean that they find the best interest of the child is adoption. If the parents are found unfit and the best interest is adoption then the Judge will found grounds for termination.
The parents do have 30 days to appeal this ruling. This does not add another court date. The Appellate court will go through the court transcripts and make sure nothing was done wrong that could affect the ruling. The Appellate Courts are expedited for these cases. In our area expedited means 6 to 8 months.
Most estimations for adoption in our county is about a year. There is a TON of paperwork, for the caseworker mainly. When all the paperwork is done you then have to wait on the courts to set the adoption date. If a child is NOT in a home that is adopting them then that adds a bit of a kink. A child HAS to be in a home for six months before they can be adopted.
So there you have it, the Illinois court system at it's finest. We are so fortunate in this county. A Judge holds ALL the power in the decision making. We happen to have an incredible judge in this county. We also have a great States Attorney and GAL (Guardian Ad Litem-the kids attorney). And whats most amazing for me to watch is the parents attorney's. They have some tough clients, but they fight incredibly HARD for them. We are beyond blessed to live in this county.