I called every family law attorney in the small town I live in. No one was available on such short notice. I called Dylan’s P.O and told him what was going on. He asked for the attorney’s name and said he would come to the hearing.
When I arrived a woman came toward me. She seemed like she was in a hurry and was holding her right hand out as she approached. “Are you Jess? I’m Carla Liez, Bird’s attorney. If we can come to an agreement…” She held a stack of papers in her left hand and was looking up at me over her oh-so fashionable reading glasses. She put her hand out and I gripped it hard and then let go.
“I’m not talking to you”, I said, and continued walking toward the courtroom. She made some kind of a flabbergasted sound which I ignored.
I saw Dylan’s P.O. and went up to him. Apparently the attorney and Bird had negotiated a deal with him. Since Dylan was refusing to come home to me, or to return to rehab, they wanted me to agree to allow him to stay at the local youth shelter. The P.O was urging me to go along with it.
I walked into the courtroom. There was Bird, sitting with her mousey attorney. I took my seat at the front table next to them.
There was all the usual crap that goes with court and then it was apparently Bird’s attorney’s turn. She burst out of her chair and said, “I have to stand up because that’s what I do!”
She began a long narrative that could have easily come off a show like Dateline. It began with the story of how poor Bird had been refused the opportunity to adopt Dylan because the state we had lived in prohibited same-sex adoption. That’s a flat-out lie, but that was her angle. She was playing the lesbian card. One thing that Bird was honest about was that Dylan had called her right after he ran on Tuesday and she had been communicating daily with him. She had lied to me for three days, pretending to be driving around looking for him.
Bird’s attorney was trying to do a whole bunch of things at once. She wanted Bird to be granted legal parental rights, to be granted full custody and to make it an emergency situation so that Bird could stop Dylan from going back to rehab. She went on and on for a very long time. I wondered if I would get a turn since I did not have an attorney. Bird’s attorney was dramatic in her presentation as she described how Bird had been thwarted at every turn by a controlling, irrational birth mother (me). I did not interrupt as I had learned in traffic court to never speak unless you are spoken to. Finally Bird’s attorney wrapped it up by pleading, “Judge, please don’t allow the court to let this child down!”
The judge took offense (as did I) to the attorney’s suggestion that the court would let a child down and he reprimanded her. Finally the judge acknowledged me and I told him I was Dylan’s mother and I had the birth certificate to prove it. He wanted me to agree to allow Dylan to go to the youth shelter. I told him I wasn’t comfortable agreeing to anything without having an attorney present. It didn’t matter. The judge ordered that Dylan would go to the youth shelter and that I would remain the sole custody parent. The clerk handed me a stack of papers Bird’s attorney had prepared where she had crossed off some things and written other things in. It seemed unusual for a legal document.
The hearing was over. Bird’s attorney was in front of the judges desk, schmoozing, trying to make up for her misstep. I stood up and glared at Bird as she walked by.
Dylan’s court hearing was that day at 4pm. Dylan’s PO told me that he was going to try to get Roxanne to bring Dylan to the hearing. I drove back to the courthouse about 3:30, unsure if Dylan would be there or not.
As I walked up the stairs I saw him. He was sitting in a chair next to Bird. Someone had cut all of his thick wavy shoulder-length hair off so that no one would recognize him. It was jagged and uneven. His skin had little color to it and he was sick and coughing. His lungs were tight with asthma. I’d never been happier to see him.
Dylan had his court hearing and at his PO’s request, he was given an ankle bracelet monitor. Bird was horrified and fussed about how uncomfortable it looked. I thought the ankle bracelet was a great idea. Now if he ran we would be able to find him. Plus I wanted Dylan to experience the full consequences of his actions so that he might be motivated to change. The PO thought we should look into a different treatment setting. Dylan was adamant that he was refusing to return to the rehab he had been in. At this point he was not court ordered to do so.
The three of us walked out of the courtroom and Bird started crying, saying she wanted to leave. I’m pretty sure she thought I was going to send her on her way, for good. I probably should have. But I felt like Dylan was in a very vulnerable situation and that we needed to take care of him together. Dylan said he didn’t want to go to the youth shelter, that he wanted to come home.
There was no way I was prepared to manage Dylan on my own. He was volatile and easily triggered. Every few minutes he would beg us not to send him back to rehab, insisting that he would kill himself if he we did. He wanted me to promise him that and that he was going to get to live with Bird. Bird was also adamant that Dylan should not be sent back to rehab. It was clear to me that according to Dylan and Bird I was still the enemy.
I invited Bird to come and stay with us until we could get things settled. She was hesitant at first but relented and brought her two little dogs as well. For the next four days, until we could see Dylan’s substance counselor, we tag teamed Dylan so that he was never alone.
During those few days I found Bird to be domineering when it came to caring for Dylan. We disagreed about what time he should be woken up in the morning, and pretty much everything else. I let her have her way, because I didn’t feel I had a choice. Dylan spent most of the time in his room in bed. Bird started sitting in there with him and it felt very clear to me that the division that had been established as Bird and Dylan against me was going to continue. My main concern was Dylan’s comfort and safety and so I allowed everything. I allowed Bird to wait on Dylan as if he was an invalid.
On Sunday I went out for some supplies and when I returned Bird told me that a process-server had attempted to serve me papers related to a separate lawsuit Bird was filing against me in an attempt to get custody of Dylan. Everything that came up over those few days I just accepted without argument. Bird told me that she had already paid her attorney in advance for mediation so that we could come up with a parenting plan and wouldn’t have to go to court. I said that was fine because at that point I would have said yes to anything just to keep the peace. I had found an attorney but I wouldn’t be seeing her until the next day. So at that point everything was unknown. Dylan still needed treatment, but where? And how were we going to get him there and get him to stay? At that time those were my biggest concerns.