This post started Sunday.
We exchanged a barely-awake victory five. It was 5am and little Missy hadn't stirred all night. As Ben drifted back to sleep, I laid awake. Something didn't feel right.
I begged God to take the lingering influenza symptoms that had plagued me all week. We were all feeling better, finally.
Within minutes, I was out of bed, hugging the toilet, and heaving, violently. I didn't leave the floor for three hours. Whatever chaos was happening inside, rid itself from every end. Again and again and again. I sobbed in pain.
I curled in a ball, as my stomach lurched and twisted into the most piercing pain I had ever experienced. I moved to our bed and agonized for an hour before going to urgent care. I was sure I had an ulcer from all the stress.
Had you asked the day before, I would have, assuredly, told you my lowest moment in life was years before. Our ten year trek through barrenness has been marked with deep-set valleys...but nothing like this.
Every challenge of the last three weeks crashed in on me. I cried because I had nothing left to give. Nothing. No shower. No comfort. No Ben. I was depleted in every way and my hair smelled like vomit.
I moaned in pain, praying for relief.
I don't remember much from urgent care, but someone said, "We need to send her." I knew they meant the hospital. I was dehydrated and delirious; my pain was sensitive to the lightest touch. I closed my eyes and cried. The only moment that stands still is when I looked at my best friend through tears, and said, "This is too much..."
I spent several hours at the hospital getting hydrated. They gave me anti-nausea medication and morphine for the pain (glorious!!). I slept for nearly a day straight, once home. It turns out, I had a viral stomach flu of an aggressive nature.
What are the odds? Two weeks of back-to-back flus???
I was in and out of sleep all day Monday, wishing for heaven to take me. Then I coughed.
It took me a minute to realize...but, sure enough.
I had pooped my pants.
Yup. There's honesty for you. It was bad. Throw-away-your-clothes-and-take-a-bath BAD.
I laid in the tub and cried out, "Take me, Lord. Take me, now. I've had a good life. Only half of my children would miss me. I'm done. I have been emptied...in every way."
Needless to say, he didnt comply.
Here we are.
I woke up, this morning, with a stomach of knots ( literally) and no choice on whether or not to take my newest lovies to see their first mom. One of us had to cover Ty and LJ and one of us needed to head to the agency.
It had to be me.
As a mother. As his mother. I needed to be the one waiting for Sweet Boy.
I packed our bags for the hour drive and was thankful that no one asked questions. I didn't want to tell him until I knew for sure she'd show. We had snacks and toys and three sets of extra outfits, as all three of us were CLEARLY capable of filling our underpants.
I felt terrible inside and out, but Isaiah's words ran through my head, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (40:29)..."
I was both.
I parked a block from the agency, stopped the car, and got in the back seat.
"Buddy. Remember how we've been talking a lot about first moms and why we call them that?"
"Today, you are going to spend time with your first mom."
"Yes. But, I want you to know something. Look at my eyes. I am not leaving. I will be sitting right outside the door. If you need me, you come get me any time. And no matter what your first mom says in your visit, you and sissy are coming home with me, today. Home to daddy, Ty, and LJ....okay?"
"But-But-But Mom C [Foster Mom] always left and came back. Are you going to leave and come back?"
"No. I am going to sit outside your door in case you need me. I am not leaving. I will be here the whole time. Okay?"
We walked in and they were all in the lobby waiting. Caseworker. Supervisor. Visitation Supervisor. Mom.
I looked her in the eye and forced a smile. "Hi, I'm Rebekah," and stuck out my hand (the business woman in me can't help it).
She wasn't unfriendly, but she didn't make eye contact. She didn't make small talk. She took the car seat out of my hand and reached for the diaper bag. Before I could give any instructions, she called Sweet Boy to her and they were behind closed doors.
Having had twelve hours to process that moment, I can now, verbalize what I felt, instantly.
I know it's not true. I know I have a place; I know that "the law" does/would listen to anything I have to say. I can argue every word I am about to say. But. In that moment. I was slapped to reality. I did not matter. I was not the mother. I had no control.
The flip side? My mama bear ROARED to life. I was angry that she didn't ask me questions. That she assumed she knew how to take care of a daughter she hadn't seen in six weeks. That she smothered Sweet Boy with fake words and empty promises, both of which came streaming under the door to my seat. I heard every word.
I took a deep breath and realized in three week's time...I had become their mother. More importantly, I FELT like their mother.
I checked my email to pass time and chatted with case workers as they walked by. When mine walked by she let me know that she would be in court, later this afternoon, requesting that visitation be suspended. My thoughts were smug in victory until she told me that she hadn't told mom, yet.
We finished the conversation with appointment and home study dates.
I sat, quietly, not able to erase her words. Mom didn't know. In this case, what "Mama doesn't know" will hurt her.
This was most likely the last time she would ever see her kids. My anger melted in an instant and God filled my heart with great compassion.
By the time the visit was over, I was wrought with emotion. I overlooked the fact that she had given Sweet Boy a 2 litter of Faygo to guzzle with a bag full of "snacks" that would, surely, leave him sick the rest of the afternoon. She hugged Sweet Boy, tight, and told him, repeatedly, that she loved him. My throat was so tight, I couldn't talk. Quickly, I asked if I could take a picture of the two of them together (I believe this was divine intervention from the Holy Spirit). I snapped three photos and turned my phone to video for a few short seconds, undetected, to capture her stream of "I love yous" and goodbyes.
Again, looking back, 12 hours later, I am SO thankful that I did that. Now, my babies will have one picture and short video to remember their mom by. I wish there was more. They will want more...
When she handed the baby carrier back to me, we locked eyes, and she said, "Thank you."
I had to wait a long time before I could come unglued. But I did.
I will never be able to share the photos I took, but I wish I could. They would break your heart.
I walked into this day emptied of myself and realize that's exactly where God needed me to be. If even a remnant of Rebekah remained, I wouldn't have seen mom the way God sees her.
I have every right to be angry and bitter at what she's done. The mess she's created; the disaster relief crew I am forced to lead. She has allowed atrocities to take place at her children's sacrifice and seems to have no regret on the lasting effects to their future. She had the nerve to reprimand Sweet Boy for calling me "Mom" and told him to refer to me as "Miss Rebekah." Not an easy conversation to overhear when you're giving energy you don't have and love you don't feel to kids not born to you.
She doesn't deserve my kindness.
But I gave it. I had to. My heart broke for her the way I know the heavenly Father's already did.
I wish I didn't have compassion. I wish I didn't feel this way. It would be easier to think of this woman as a monster...or claim indifference.
Love makes things complicated.
Love requires my instincts to be shushed and my tendencies forgotten. Love is not self-seeking or proud or envious. Love demands respect when it isn't deserved and it, certainly, keeps no record of wrongs.
I understand, for the first time, how families can foster children and support reunification.
It was privilege to view this young girl through the lens of heaven. I wondered, all afternoon, if anyone else had bothered? My mama heart bled for her. She never had a chance.
I know, I know she had plenty of parenting plans and referees and months to prepare.
What I mean is...she never had a chance at life. Underage and pregnant? Addicted to heroine? Homeless?
I don't care what she's done.
I care about her kids. I care about her.
No mother should ever experience their children being ripped from them. It's not natural. It's not God's way. THIS was not the intent for Sweet Boy and Little Miss.
We were not meant to be these children's parents. Their parents were meant to parent.
We are part of "Plan: Redemption".
I am so thankful for, today, and (oddly) everything that led me to, today.
I am thankful that mom showed up. I am thankful that I got to witness her genuine affection for her kids. That I got to shake her hand and look her in the eyes. I'm thankful that I took pictures...and that God filled my heart with compassion. For the mother of my children.
When I look back on our adoption journey, I know there is a reason the points connect as they do.
Any other order and we would not have been prepared to love the way God asks us too.
I am humbled by this process and, completely, overcome with emotion.
More thoughts later. I'm off to a hot bath and a good cry.