Last week we had an appointment at the local Magistrates Court, to attend a Directions Hearing. I had googled what this was, and didn't really come up with much! Its apparently where the Legal Advisor goes through the application and supporting paperwork, and then decides if more reports are needed and if a Guardian ad Litem needs to be appointed. A Guardian ad Litem is a person independent of both us and our LA, who is charged with taking into account the child's best interests.
I was very nervous the night before the Hearing, and couldn't sleep and spent hours on the internet messing about instead of getting to bed. Obviously I was very tired the next morning, not great when I had to get Little Prince and Princess Lollipop ready without letting them get wound up!! I managed to get Little Prince ready, but Princess Lollipop had only had her breakfast and wasn't dressed by the time Mr Messy arrived back with LMS and American Boyfriend! They assured me they would be fine getting her dressed and to stop worrying - ha! Worrying is my job!!
I had a huge dilemma about what to wear - nothing smart fits!! And I only had one pair of almost smart shoes that I can get into!! I had bought a new top and smart trousers, but the trousers didn't fit and the top was too summery and not warm enough! In the end I wore the same outfit I had worn to Court in Ethiopia - brown patterned elastic waisted skirt (forgiving of the expanding tum!) and a top that was like a cream jumper over a blouse but all in one. Mr Messy wore black jeans and a black polo neck jumper, I would have preferred him to wear a shirt and tie, but I'll save that battle for the actual Adoption Hearing!!
Eventually we were both ready to go and we set off in Mr Messy's car. We had barely turned the corner in the village, and got to the point where the road gets very narrow and the only way for cars to pass each other is for one to go up on the pavement. Unfortunately we met a Mini driver who either didn't realise this or didn't want to risk their precious tyres bouncing up the kerb!! And with a resounding BANG both our wing mirrors were smashed off!! We stopped the car and Mr Messy went to talk to the other driver, I stayed in the car as there was a huge muddy puddle on my side of the car. The other driver was sobbing and insisting that it was all Mr Messy's fault, even though we couldn't tuck over any further as there was a wall there!! She also insisted that she had been up on the kerb out of the way, but that's not what we saw!! There was no point arguing as we didn't have time, we had to get to Court and as it would be our word against her's and her passenger's. So they both agreed to not go through our insurance and to pay to repair our own cars. I was shaking like a leaf, and not happy at the dramatic start to the day!!
We finally got back on our way and after ranting to Mr Messy in the car about Mini drivers I finally calmed down! Mr Messy had been worried about finding a car parking space near the Court, but we found one pretty easily and we were even early!! So Mr Messy had enough time to fit the housing cover back onto his broken wing mirror, and remove the smashed glass. It looks like we'll only have to replace the glass, making it a lot less expensive :-) Being a b*tch I hoped that the Mini driver wasn't having the same luck!!!
We walked over to the Court and were scanned and searched before entering. We then had to show our Notification of Directions Hearing document to the receptionist and just as we had finished our Social Worker arrived to show her Notification. We walked to the waiting room together and sat chatting while waiting to be invited in. Our Social Worker was as surprised as we were to be invited in on her own! Which set me off worrying again!!! About 10-15 minutes later we were also called in. The room was like an office conference room with a "round table" surrounded by chairs. The Legal Advisor was sat behind her computer at one side and we sat near to her.
Our Social Worker is to all intents and purposes retired and we are her last case. As such she has not renewed her Social Working credentials, which would mean attending 90 days training to get re-registered and cost her a fortune. Her registration runs out in mid-March, and she would LOVE to see our case through to the final Adoption. She had explained all this to the Legal Advisor who was very sympathetic and has therefore, said we can have a provisional date for the Adoption Hearing just before our Social Worker's registration runs out. However, the Court require one last report from CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service) with their recommendation for the Adoption Hearing. The Legal Advisor warned us that CAFCASS is inundated with work and might not be able to complete their report in time for the date she had set for the Adoption Hearing. However, she did say our Social Worker had already written a very comprehensive report and due to that she felt that CAFCASS would only have to produce a very short report of 1-2 pages at the most. She has Directed them to have the report prepared by 4pm the day before the Adoption Hearing, but has also booked us a place at the following month's Adoption Hearing date, just in case. We have everything crossed that the report can be written in time and that we can adopt Princess Lollipop in early March, before our Social Worker's registation runs out.
On the way home from Court me and Mr Messy visited the local chocolatier's shop for a cake and coffee as a celebration of passing this penultimate hurdle. While we were there we chatted about our plans for a family celebration party once we have finally adopted Princess Lollipop. The choclatier also provides bespoke cakes and we are going to order one from him, we have to wait till next week when the lady who designs the cakes is back in work. I have a good idea of what I want - pastel colours including (but not exclusively) pink, sponge cake, and three odd shaped tiers - I'm really looking forward to actually ordering it :-) We also discussed when we could have this party, and due to the uncertainty around the dates we have plumped for mid/late April, avoiding the weekend of Drama Teen's 16th birthday! Mr Messy would also like to have a hog roast, and has asked LMS to see if this would be possible, especially as the party will be held indoors!!
In the afternoon Mr Messy and Drama Teen went to the next village to do a family lifestyle shoot. They were there to photograph the parents and their two young children, however Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles were also present! They were all shouting directions to the children, who got very confused and upset!! The shoot was apparently a nightmare, but the needed shots were taken and are now in post production!