The .26 Hearing: Terminating Parental Rights

I’ve been sparse with the details of Jake and Joey’s foster-to-adopt tale. Mostly, it’s because we haven’t always known what was going to happen, or it took so long for anything to happen. Also, we’re required to maintain confidentiality about many aspects of the case. But it’s time to share the latest news.

Fostering is a messy and complicated legal process, especially if you are hoping to adopt the child or children in your care. There is a flowchart that attempts to explain the events in a more manageable way, but it’s still pretty convoluted and the truth is it doesn’t always happen as smoothly or as timely as the arrows indicate.

In California, the first step in starting the actual adoption process is the .26 Hearing, or Termination of Parental Rights. By this point, the Detention Hearing, Jurisdiction Hearing, and Disposition Hearing have all been held and biological parents have proven to the court to be unable to reunify with their child. The judge then determines that the parents’ rights should be terminated and the child will become free for adoption, after a 60 day waiting period allowing them the chance to appeal based on legal grounds. After the 60 days pass, the court issues “freeing documents” and the child becomes eligible for adoption. (This site on Q&A: Juvenile Dependency Court sums up these proceedings very nicely, if you’re interested in more information.)

On December 7, 2011 (exactly one year to the day that these incredible boys entered our lives) Jake and Joey’s .26 Hearing was held and the judge ruled to terminate the rights of their biological parents. Again, as grateful and relieved as I am to know this ruling, it makes me sad for these two people who are missing out on these precious, precious boys. Fostering-to-adopt is nothing if not complex.

But for our family, this news is long-awaited and joyous. We have just reached the end of this 60 day waiting period and now Jake and Joe will be free for adoption. We have been working furiously to complete the adoptive home study (post on the details of that to follow) and are now waiting for the various social service agents and offices to complete their portions. We think their adoption could be finalized by the middle of next month. We can hardly wait.

You may be wondering if we or the boys are required to attend any of these hearings. The answer, thankfully, is no. We could if we wanted to, but I can’t think of a single reason that I would want to be at court. Imagining the proceedings can be hard enough to handle without witnessing them in person.

We are so very grateful to be at this point! It has gone faster than we thought, but the months of not knowing if it would end in our favor were difficult. It’s a combination of feeling like time has stopped completely with no progress being made and then looking back to see that it was all over in the blink of an eye. I suppose that’s how most trying experiences feel.

Thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts in helping us through this experience. We couldn’t have made it without you.

We look forward to showing you their cute faces on this blog soon!

12 thoughts on “The .26 Hearing: Terminating Parental Rights”

  1. SO happy for all of you, Jeannie! You and Colin are such amazing parents (and people!) Maddie came and sat with us for part of sacrament meeting today, and what with Warren looking at us over the top of the bench, flashing those adorable dimples, and then Jakey joining in with some big grins, our hearts were TOTALLY melted by [your] family!

  2. You guys are amazingly strong and wonderful people. I hope the rest of the adoption journey goes smoothly. What a process!

  3. I have been WAITING to hear this!! I have beautiful images dancing through my mind of these boys in white, being sealed to their family. I’m so happy for you Jeannie.

  4. We wish the best! My husband and I are going thru the same process. Luckuly for us bio mom is no where to be found and they dont know who the father is. Our .26 hearing its coming and you are right the waiting its horrible. We got our little guy when he was 6 days straight from the hospital and we love him so very much!

    Good luck and God bless your family and the little guys

  5. I am on a similar journey with our little one. Our 26 hearing is set for July. Since we had our little one for 7 months, then back to mom and now back with us, the judge is hoping to piggyback our previous time to allow for the 6 month minimum to pass quicker. I didn’t realize there was a 60 day appeal process…that would make us at 6 months either way, so I can release the stress of that now! Looks like it will be September for our adoption. Such a bittersweet situation for everyone. We have been to EVERY court date and have been supportive of every decision the judge made. She is amazing and has made all good decisions! Good luck with your journey!

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