My emotions were in an intense game of ping-pong, today. I was told that today's termination trial of parental rights would be a "slam dunk", an "in-and-out" case. I knew better and walked in feeling nervous. I just wanted to get the day over with, so that our family [specifically, Sweet Boy] can move on.
I was first to the courtroom. Soon followed by my new babies' birth mom. She didn't recognize me, but I reached out, right away, extending friendship. When I explained my role, she immediately started crying, asking every question that a mother away from her babies would ask. With tears pouring down her face she begged for reassurance, "Does he ask about me all the time?"
She searched my eyes for the answer she wanted to hear, but I couldn't give it to her. I couldn't lie. I offered gentle kindness, but was truthful in my responses. Well, mostly truthful.
She's so young. With such vulnerability, she asked me if I knew why we were there, today. I know she was told...but she was blinded by either delusion or narcotics, I'm not sure which. I didn't answer her, directly.
A few minutes later I met her family. The family that took care of Sweet Boy for his first 3 years of life. I wanted to dig a hole into the floor and sob. Imagine the most worn down homeless man you've ever seen - his tiredness for life; broken eyes; alcohol stench. And then imagine him raising your son. I had to compartmentalize to get through the morning.
We had to sit through another termination trial before ours. Birth mom sat in front of me, hanging on every word. At the point of give-up, she turned around and mustered a quiet, "Will you please let them know how much I loved them...?" I wanted to grab her tight and cry with her. Instead, I hugged her shoulder and said, "Yes. I promise I will."
Next it was our turn.
Birth dad was brought in from holding. I didn't know his name or anything about him, but the eery escort in with chains clinking and trailed echo, were unnerving. It was the first time I've ever witnessed tangible oppression. His eyes were wild and fierce as he scanned the room. I thought of my sweet girl's kisses and marveled at God's protection on her little life. She is oblivious to her beginnings.
All rise. Routine introductions. Attorneys approach the bench. Attorneys leave to consult in the judge's chambers. Everyone returns.
Trial can't continue. There was quite a bit of debate, but the issue boils down to an affidavit of parentage and the recent Sanders Supreme Court case ruling.
As I tried to understand all that was being argued, I, quickly, gathered that we had to push back the trial another month. If it was, purely, a process issue, I could have moved on through my day, simply battling minor frustration.
The problem is that birth dad has, now, been ordered to sign the affidavit of parentage. If he doesn't sign it he'll be in contempt of court. Not only did he verbalize his right and desire to sign, but also his plan to request services and custody.
Birth mom came alive in the hub-bub and interpreted the delay as a subsequent "last chance," requesting reinstated visitation (thankfully, to be denied).
It all felt like a lasting punch to the gut. I teetered between shouting in my seat and running for the Mexican border. The thought of dragging Sweet Boy through any more visitation or periods of waiting is sickening. He's come so far.
The morning droned on. Each revealed detail making my settled heart plummet. At one point, birth dad laser-focused me and intensely mouthed "Thank You" three times. It didn't quite compute and I was thankful when the officer stepped between us to break the fierceness of his stare. It wasn't until later that someone pointed out my misinterpreted "Thank yous" were, in fact "F### Yous". That made a lot more sense.
I waffled all day between complete retribution and unrequited compassion for birth mom. I was angry and frustrated and infuriated by the setback (that could waste up to a year's worth of time), but I couldn't deny the love in my heart for the young girl across the courtroom that was not given the same chances in life that I was.
I can't help my love for her.
No one in the courtroom was fighting for her. Believing in her. Or even being kind to her for that matter. In conversation with me, that morning, someone overheard her pregnancy reveal and used it to our advantage. While I am grateful for the intense commitment to our kids and their case, I was appalled at this advocate's reassurance to me, "Don't look so nervous. I'm gonna get those babies from her. And then I'm coming for the third one. I told her as much."
I wanted to run and cry from the courthouse, never to return. I don't belong. On either side. I feel too much. And, frankly, I'm not cut out for the political mess and arrogance.
Now, that I've had some time to process the experience and pull inward, I was able to un-earth my confidence in the Lord. It's all going to be okay....because He's in charge. I can't worry about what I can't control.
There are a few big question marks on how this case will twist and turn. If birth dad signs the affidavit (I think he will), and agency services are offered (even if he's in prison), there's no telling how long this could drag out.
In my heart, I know they're God's kids and believe he is entrusting them to our care...for a lifetime. What happened today, doesn't change my day-to-day. Little Miss will be up at 6am (yuck), the boys will eat their body weight in food, and we'll collapse in bed at the end of it, thankful we survived.
I had this thought on the way home. While heaviness, indeed, drapes our case...we've already won.
I win because I am a better mom for parenting Sweet Boy and Little Miss. I win because I get to hug and love on them every day. I win because I see life bubbling through Little Miss, even though the enemy tried to destroy it. I win because Sweet Boy stepped over the rubble of his guarded heart and entrusted me to hold his hand. I win as I watch Sweet Boy comprehend God's goodness and faithfulness to our family. I win because my kids are learning to love with open, thoughtful hearts. I win because my life is way beyond ordinary. I win because I am pursuing my passion.
I win because God is on my side.