"I feel like the boy who cried wolf...no matter how bad I want this, it's too late. I know that."
I vacillated between compassion and irritation listening to Missy's biological dad plead his case before the judge.
Today's termination trial spanned six hours. SIX. My back was stiff; my patience thin.
The facts are stacking. He only visited his daughter six times in twenty months; he hadn't completed any of the goals in his parenting plan; he spends more time in jail than outside, and he admitted to having a very serious drug problem.
The judge was kind, but firm, and found the burden of proof met. He terminated rights.
Early on, this morning, Little Missy's dad vocalized his desire to voluntarily sign over his rights. He asked many questions, but the one that mattered most to him was that Ben would continue to be her father. Ben took her to three of the six visits and although it was for purposes of scheduling, today, I am so thankful for our decision. In some small way, I think, it eased the tearing in his heart to know that the man his daughter will grow-up calling "daddy", always showed him kindness and respect.
I hate the political bologna that plays out every time I'm in that courtroom, but I couldn't be mad at dad for changing his mind and requesting a trial. It was his last chance to fight for her.
I was able to look past his excuses for walking away and saw the honesty in his heart. Though his experiences with Little Miss were limited, he remembered every one, highlighting the first time they met and her first neck grabbing hug.
His plea to the judge came from such a place of brokenness, his words have haunted me the rest of the day - "I hope this is the time that someone or something will give me another chance. Please don't give up on me."
Even though this judge drug both cases a full year past our expectations, I am thankful for his leadership and respect his character. He responded to Missy's dad, gently, saying, "You turned your back on the resources we offered. You can't and haven't been able to help yourself and because of that, you will not be able to help or care for your daughter. I have to act in her best interest."
Dad cried softly and took his defeat with humility.
I tried to make eye contact with him as he was escorted out of the courtroom by police officers, but he never looked up.
I will, likely, never see him again.
As soon as I picked up the boys, they wanted to know what happened in court. I gave them a edited version of the day and challenged them to pray for Little Miss' dad, as the burden in his heart could be too much for him to bear.
The outcome of today puts us one step closer to adoption, but there is no victory in witnessing such devastation. This is the fourth time we've walked this path, but it never feels right or natural; I don't think it ever will.
Please draw this sweet man to you. Cloak him in your presence and protect his frailty. Bring him a mentor that will shoulder his deficiencies and guide him to wholeness - someone who will persist and cheer and point him toward love at every turn. I have seen glimpses of his heart for his daughter...give him the same glimpses of your heart for him. Anchor his hope.