In order to compose a full report, the guardian ad litem needs to inspect each home and also see how the child interacts with each parent. The guardian will typically speak with the child(ren) in confidence in order to see his/her perspective on parents and living arrangements. Our case is different for two reasons: 1) Jellybean can barely string two words together, let alone form sentences. Interviewing her would be, well, pointless; and 2) W. only sees Jellybean through supervised visitation at Safe House, so the guardian cannot witness their interaction at his home.
So on the Wednesday before Easter, the guardian visited W. and Jellybean at Safe House. I am really, really, really glad the guardian picked that particular Wednesday to visit Safe House. Being the Wednesday before Easter, every child left that building with an Easter basket from their non-custodial parent... except mine. I hope that is something the guardian noticed. Don't get me wrong--all three of our kids received Easter baskets from me and Ant, my parents, Ant's parents and even our babysitter. There was certainly no shortage of Easter baskets this year. It's just something that a supposed "dad" should do for his child. Period.
The guardian will have to schedule another date to inspect wherever W.'s grungy ass is living these days. She told me at our initial meeting that whether or not he has prepared for her possible overnight stays, for instance, by providing her a room or her own bed, will be a major deciding factor regarding unsupervised visitation and overnight stays. Her point is that if he really wants Schedule A, he better have something ready for her if/when that happens.
She did, however, have the opportunity to visit my home on the Monday after Easter. After hours of preparing for her inspection, I was confident and ready. To my surprise, she didn't examine any single room in my house. She didn't look in the kitchen to make sure that healthy snacks are available, or peek into the bathroom to be sure that there aren't cleaning products on a low shelf. In fact, it appeared that there was no sort of evaluation at all. I'm sure she noticed little things, like the cleanliness of our home, outlet covers in all sockets, etc. All the same, I find myself feeling a bit bummed out that she didn't even so much as glance at the kitchen I scrubbed for hours. Although she brought a pen and pad with her, she didn't write down a single thing. Instead, she sat on the floor with me and Jellybean while we played with her dollhouse and read almost every Dr. Seuss book in the book shelf.
I have to assume that her lack of interest in all of the things that I prepared for is due to the fact that no one is questioning my ability to take care of Jellybean. No one has even so much as suggested that I am anything close to an unfit parent, so why would she waste her time with a detailed inspection of a home from which the child will not be removed? Either that, or it was so clean upon first glance that she didn't even need to inspect the rest of the house--because, really, we went a little overkill on the cleaning.
All I can do now is wait. I will not see the report from the guardian ad litem or even Safe House until we go back to court. I understand that this is how the system works, but I can't help but feel frusterated. Sometimes I feel like, as her mother, I should be permitted to demand answers. But, the guardian ad litem and the people at Safe House are the ones who are able to give Jellybean a voice and speak out for what is best for her--so it's probably a good idea to keep my mouth shut and avoid pissing off the people who are going to help our case.
I hope that these posts will help someone, whether you are following me as I go through this journey or whether Google leads you to this article two years down the road. I feel like maybe I should add a disclaimer to tell everyone that I am no expert, just a regular mom trying to raise my daughter in the most stable situation possible. And I hope that by sharing my thoughts and experiences I may shed some light on the situation for those of you who are going through something similar. Or, at the very least, let you know that you are not alone. No matter what time it is or where you are, somewhere out there is another frusterated and confused woman who just wants to do the right thing for her kids.
Introduction to How To Impress The Guardian Ad Litem
Part I: The Initial Meeting
Part II: Preparing For The Home Inspection
Part IV: Consulting The Witnesses
Part V: Drug Testing
Part VI: Do What The Guardian Tells You