"I want my son to be able to have a chance to know his parents, to show that we can do it," 32-year-old Casey Caswell said in court.
An emotional Casey Caswell, the biological mother of Ricky Holland, takes the stand in hopes of keeping the parental rights for her youngest son, now 13-month-old Matthew Caswell.
It was the last day of testimony in Ingham County Probate Court after almost a year of hearings.
"I want my son to be able to have a chance to know his parents, to show that we can do it," 32-year-old Caswell said through tears.
It's not that simple though. Caswell has lost parental rights of five other children, including Ricky, and admits to making terrible life decisions -- like abusive relationships and a history of homelessness.
"I just want to be given the chance," Caswell said. "I have done a lot of changing."
Social workers and attorneys say nothing has changed. After a year of job searching, family therapy, and supervised visits, Caswell and her husband - a convicted sex offender - are still unemployed, unable to pay rent, and neither has a high school diploma.
"What would they do if they were on their own?" Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney Laurie Oberle said in her closing argument. "13-month-old child, they have not had him unsupervised because they do not have stability. They do not have the capacity or the disposition to provide stability for themselves, let alone for a child."
No one denies the couple's love for little Matthew though. Caswell presented a journal she's kept since the day he was born and hundreds of pictures in court. Caswells' attorney said people should focus on the future, not dwell in the past.
"They're hampered by their history, and we can't change that, but I think people do change," Caswells' attorney William Campbell said. "I think they have changed, and I think and I know, they would be good and doting parents to this baby."
Whether they can or can't be parents to Matthew is up to Ingham County Probate Court Judge George Economy now. He has 28 days to go over the testimonies and make what he calls the toughest decision for any judge.
"There's no guarantee," Judge Economy said. "You hope after weighing all these factors that the decision is the right one and in the best interest of that child."
Matthew Caswell is a child that's already been in three foster homes in the first year of his life. Judge Economy said with a case like this, he likes to take a step back before he starts going over evidence.
He'll begin his review process next week and issue a decision less than four weeks after that.