On January 2ndd, the Friday before school started back Emmy had a busy day. They started with an appointment with Dr. Hatcher. He was amazed by her progress. Her blood work looked good and her lungs were perfect. The sores were almost all gone. Most surprising was her weight. She’d put on two pounds.
Dr. Hatcher was thrilled, but still not willing to take out the NG tube. She had been holding out hope that it would be out before school started back. He promised to revisit the request at her next appointment in two weeks.
Their second appointment was much harder on Emmy. Emmy had to appear before a judge for the case against Rita. The attorney had called both Emmy and Stephanie in her capacity as Rita’s teacher. They arrived at the courthouse and both waited out in hallway with Brett. He had come just for support and to stay with Emmy when Stephanie was called in.
Dr. Brown from the St. Thomas was there waiting, as was Mr. Case, and the security guards. They all hugged Emmy and asked about how she was doing.
Mr. Case was the first one called. He was in there forever. The security guards asked Emmy about the season. They both said that they’d been following the team, trying to keep up with her.
Finally, the big wooden door to the courtroom opened and a uniformed officer called her name. She stood and walked toward him. From inside the courtroom there was a commotion. She could hear Rita cursing. “Hell no, that bitch isn’t going to testify against me. She won’t tell the truth about anything. She thinks she ’s better than everyone. Thinks she’s more than just a orphan like the rest of us.”
“Bailiff please remove the defendant from the courtroom.” She heard a woman’s voice say. The man in the uniform made her stay in the hall until they’d taken Rita out. She continued to curse and yell until the door leading out the side of the courtroom shut.
“OK, Emmy you can come on in now.” Emmy took one last look at Stephanie who winked at her and followed the man in.
The courtroom was almost empty. There were two men in suits sitting at tables and then the judge, an older woman with her gray hair in a big bun on top of her head. Out in the chairs, Mr. Case smiled at her. The uniformed man, who was another bailiff, showed Emmy where to sit and then had her take an oath to tell the truth.
The judge looked down at her from her seat. This child had thrown her for a loop. The door had opened and from behind the bailiff came little Emmy with her khaki dress pants, blue button up shirt, her long brown hair was neatly combed was the last thing she expected to see. “Emmy. Mr. Wise is the attorney for the State of Ohio and he’s going to start by asking you some questions then Mr. Hamilton, who is Rita Sanchez’ attorney will ask you some too. Does that sound OK?”
“Ok then, Mr. Wise you can begin.”
The whole process was pretty painless. They just asked questions about that day and what had happened. No one even asked about the tube in her nose. She did have to tell them about the cancer and the nausea drugs that had caused the whole mess.
When she was finished she was allowed to leave so that Rita could be brought back in. Apparently she was calmer this time. When they opened the door to bring in Dr. Brown there was no screaming. After Dr. Brown, and the guards, Stephanie finally got to testify.
Brett and Emmy just sat in the hallway. Emmy was so glad to have her phone. Brett and kept it while she was in the courtroom but handed it back when she sat back down. To the passerby they looked like normal father and daughter both with their attention focused on their phones. Emmy was playing some trivia game against Jake. She didn’t know a lot about world events or sports so she was getting creamed.
The door finally opened and from inside a new tirade from Rita could be heard. “You listening, Coach, I’m coming for you and your player. She won’t get away with ruining my life.” They could hear a scuffle as the bailiff was trying to remove her from the room again.
“Well that went well.” Stephanie remarked as the big doors closed behind her.
“Are we finished?” Emmy just wanted to be out of here.
“Yes. I was the last person to testify. The judge said she’d make a ruling Monday at 10.”
“Do we have to come back for that?”
“No, all we had to do was be here today.”
“Good.” Emmy breathed a sigh of relief. Brett took her hand.
“Now back to the good stuff. The private investigator that we talked about has an office across the street. He can meet with us today if you still want to do this.”
Emmy smiled. “Yes. I want to do this.” Brett and Stephanie both smiled back at her.
“Then lets do it.”
They walked across the street to an old building. Inside there were a series of small offices lining the halls. The whole building smelled old and musty. They walked down the hall to the office number they’d been given.
As they walked down the hall all the other doors had lettering saying who’s office was behind the door. When they stopped in front of suite 107 there was no lettering. The only thing on the door was a peephole and just below it the number 107. Brett looked at Stephanie and shrugged. He reached for the handle and found it locked. “You’re sure this is it?” Steph was a little nervous and took Emmy’s hand.
Brett pulled out his phone and checked again. The man had sent a text just a few minutes ago telling them to come on over whenever they finished in juvenile court. This was the right place. “This is right.” Brett knocked. Inside they could hear movement and then they could see the light change as someone looked through the peephole.
The door unlocked and a slim African American man opened the door to let them in. Once they were inside he locked the door again. “Sorry for all that. I’ve got several cheating husbands who aren’t really happy with me. Never can be too careful.” He had them take a seat on the couch and he pulled a chair over.
“So I understand you need me to find someone?”
Brett took charge, “We are in the process of adopting Emmy. But CPS hasn’t been able to determine where her mother is to terminate her rights. If they can’t get that termination in writing then we have to wait an additional six months before we can finalize everything.”
“OK let me get some information and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Emmy what is your full name?”
“Emmylou Faith Taylor.” She looked at Brett as she said it and he smiled.
“OK and your date of birth?”
“March 12, 2002.”
“Do you guys have a copy of Emmy’s birth certificate?”
They looked at each other “No, but the school system or her case worker might. I can check” Stephanie wrote it down in the notebook she’d brought.
“That would be great.”
“Now Emmy what is your mothers name?”
What about a middle name?”
Emmy hesitated “I’m not sure what it was.”
He looked up with reassuring eyes. “Hey that’s Ok. I’m just trying to get everything I can. We’ll fill in the gaps later.” Emmy nodded.
“OK Emmy when was last time you saw your Mom.”
This time there was no hesitation. “December 23, 2009.”
He wrote it down. “So you haven’t seen her in over 5 years?”
She shook her head. “Ok tell me about that last day?”
“That morning she left for work about 5am, like always. She woke me up right before she left. After school I rode the bus home and she got home about four. We had dinner and then she left for her second job at a little after 5. That night she never came home.”
“On a normal night what time would she be home?”
“About 1 in the morning.”
“So your mom was working two jobs. Do you know where she worked?”
“In the morning she worked at a hotel cleaning rooms. It was one of the big ones downtown.”
“What about at night?”
“I think it was a convenience store.”
“Do you know the name of it?”
“No, the guy that owned it was from the Middle East. Sorry, that’s all I know.”
“That’s a lot. You were only what 7 at the time and you remembered all this. That’s a big deal. You’re doing great. The rest of it is my job.”
“Do you think you can find out what happened?” Emmy actually asked.
“I will do everything I can.”
Brett asked, “How does the fee structure work?”
“There isn’t one for this case. This is on me.” He looked at Emmy. “My sister assured me that you’re quite the fighter and destined for the WNBA. Maybe one day you can get me some tickets to see you play.” Emmy smiled and they shook hands.
“Mr. Jackson we can’t thank you enough.”
“Mr. Miles, this is important. My sister and I were both adopted after a long stay in foster care. Every kid that makes it out of the system stands a better chance at a real life. I’ll get to work on this right away and give you a call as soon as I have anything.”
He shook everyone’s hand and then escorted them out. Once in the hall they heard his door lock again.
They swung by the house and picked up the boys. Brett took everyone to dinner to finish off the Christmas break. The boys got to choose where to go. Like all high school boys they loved meat so they went to a steak place. Emmy was still having trouble eating meat so she skipped that but ate an entire baked potato and most of her salad. That night for the first time in a really long time she actually felt full, happy and loved.