That was a phrase DH and I heard several times from our attorney during our custody case. She warned us repeatedly that judges want reunification between children and absent mothers. If the BM has an issue with alcohol and drugs, they will suggest rehab. If they have anger issues, they suggest anger management. They will suggest parenting classes and all sorts of other things, anything to get the children and mother back together. We wrote down the steps that BM had already taken - she was currently in rehab ("court ordered," which amazed me). She had completed "all her classes," including parenting classes. She had technically been sober, as far as we knew. But she did not have a car, a job, or a place to live on her own. The attorney said that the judge would take those things into consideration, but most Family Courts just wanted the mother and her children together, no matter what it takes. I asked her why they don't even consider that (maybe) the best parent for the child isn't necessarily the biolgical one. She shrugged and said "It's just been this way as long as I've been practicing."
DH and I were lucky that BM didn't show up for the first court date. But we knew the judge might give her a second chance. He was going to leave that door open. The "ball was in her court," so to speak. Then when the second court date came and went and BM didn't show, that might have been his light-bulb moment that this was an exception. In a truly rare case, DH was granted full sole custody. The judge even stripped BM of her visitation rigthts and stated if she wanted them back, she would have to fight for it. So we waited to see if she would - and eight years passed before we heard anything about it. We wonder what might have happened if she had tried sooner. Would the judge have given a third chance or would she have been a no-show for yet another time? The magical "reunification" that the court systems seem to want so badly....I still don't fully understand it.