Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Other Side of the Door.

I cry most of the way home after every visit.

During the week, I'm a working mom with four kids. Our house is full of energy and, albeit exhausting, the reward is in every snuggle and slobbery kiss. My highlight each day is staring into the eyeballs of the five people I love most on this planet, while we all rate my food and stuff our faces (More to come on this tradition soon - watch for "Food Friday").

Friday mornings are different. While the rest of the family plays their usual role, I am called to action for a part I didn't request for a movie I don't like. I am just the foster mom to someone else's daughter on the other side of a partition.

As the weeks go on, the visits get harder.

Maybe if I left, I wouldn't be so emotional, but I can't bring myself to do it. I always want to be on the other side of the door, the minute it opens.

On his side, it's the easiest part of the week. They laugh and wrestle and play silly games that never wear out.

My side requires personal restraint and a committed exercise in humility.

A few weeks ago, mom tried buzzing into the agency lobby, but was denied entrance. I could see her tears through the glass door and she looked the most vulnerable I've ever seen her. Big eyes. Huge belly (due any day) and desperate for hope. I can hate the system, the ease in which the enemy devours his prey, and even the fact that we're in a predicament we didn't sign-up for, but I can't hate them.

Even though sometimes I want to.

It would be easier.

It's not possible. I, slowly, walked toward the door, let myself out and hugged Sweet Boy's and Little Missy's mom until she collapsed in my arms. She cried for a long time without saying anything.

In those moments, love is easy.

I guided her to a small bench, as she looked around, nervously, afraid the police would be there to escort her off the premises. I told her I wouldn't let that happen and that we could go sit in my car if we had to, in order to catch up. She let out a deep sigh and asked me every question a mother who's been separated from her kids would ask.

We never did our goodbye visit due to jail time and then a re-scheduled no-show. As I listened to her sob about why she couldn't make it, I decided I was a "giver" at heart. It's not a word that stands out if I were to describe my attributes, but when her piled up excuses didn't stand in the way of my desire to give, I knew the label fit.

We talked for a solid thirty minutes. Her words gave me a guided tour of the Alps. One minute she was grabbing my leg, begging me to adopt Sweet Boy - afraid her father would get custody and give him the same destructive foundation she got - the next she was, openly, telling me all of the plans she and birth dad have to raise Little Miss alongside her soon-to-be baby boy. Her cavalier responses point to self-service and make it clear she will never understand what I've done for her.

Even in those moments, love is easy.

I buzzed back into the agency and asked to speak to a supervisor. I pleaded mom's case and asked that they allow us to do an impromptu goodbye visit when dad was done. They wouldn't bend. I asked about a bag I had left for mom, should she come by. All of Missy's firsts and many mementos for Sweet Boy from my personal collection of treasures. Once the bag was found, I was able to get the agency to agree to allow us to stand outside the agency for a few minutes, so that mom could soak in the daughter she hadn't seen in, nearly, 12 months.

For a minute, I stood on the other side of both doors, wondering how on earth I ever came to be there.

When we walked outside, mom was a frenzy of activity, laughing - crying - hugging - questioning. Cramming a year's worth of wonder into fifteen minutes. As I stood to leave, Little Miss reached for me and said, "Momm-e!" Before I could pick her up, dad scooped her in his arms and placed her chubby hands on mom and said, "No, baby, THIS is your mommy."

I clenched my fist, bit my tongue, and begged God to take over.

I never want to walk away from love...even if it feels impossible.

What are we if we can't give love?


    1. I always try to make my prayers to God be about being willing to accept his will, and to trust that he will provide (in his time, in his way) even if it's something I don't want, don't want to hear or want right now. But, I have to say, I pray for you and your family and Little Miss' situation every time you cross my mind (which is quite often) and I always selfishly pray that God's will is for her to remain with you and your family. I don't want his will to be anything else and I selfishly pray that whether I should or not. I can't seem to ask for anything else. I pray so hard that I know he knows what's best for her, and he will protect her, but I can't help but plead with him to not let the system get in the way. It's all my heart can muster. I pray for you daily and admire the strength you have and the love you have for these babies and their families. You are a Godly woman that we should strive to be more of.

    2. Just because your heart is breaking for little miss' birthmother and birthfather, just as Jesus' heart breaks for them--it doesn't mean that they are what is best for little miss. When the birthfather told little miss that you weren't her mommy and birthmother was, I think he was showing his true colors. If he loved her unconditionally and selflessly, he would truly understand that you are giving little miss everything a mother should, instead of worrying about titles. I really wish you weren't having to go through this chaos, because I wish this kind of chaos didn't exist. All I know is that little miss needs you, and I'm thankful that she has you as her mother for however long it is--which I'm praying is forever.

      Kathy Lang

    3. I am amazed at the strength and love you were able to show during this situation. I know that this is only by His Grace. Reading your story and getting a glimpse of your life is an amazing testament to what we as Christians should and need to be doing. You will continue to be in my prayers as you walk this difficult journey.

    4. My goodness you are such a strong wonderful person. Just amazing. Wishing you continued strength and peace.

    5. What a gift you are giving that mother. You fought for her to be able to see her daughter, even just for a minute. You listened to her, shared information about her children with her. I would imagine that many of these parents in the foster care system very rarely get treated that way...our society offers so much judgment to those who can't/won't parent well, who have their children taken away by social services, who struggle with addictions, who are caught in abusive relationships. It must break your heart to give that love sometimes, and oh, to hear the father tell the little girl that you are not her mommy - ouch! I'm sorry. You are doing the right thing, though. Keep up the good work.

    6. Rebekah, thank you for sharing so eloquently about all this. Your blog is so moved and your soul-searching so poignant. You should consider writing a book when all is said and done. Regarding Little Miss's case, wouldn't part of her dad's plan be to be separate from her mom if her rights were already terminated? I'm confused about that.

      1. I am documenting everything. If it get to this point, the GAL will have to prove that mom and dad are together despite what their words reveal.

    7. I have followed your blog for years. Over the Christmas break my 23 year old daughter was home from college. We sat on our couch and I read some of your posts out loud and we both cried. We sobbed. So much pain yet so much love. I sent a link to your blog to my sister and in the subject line wrote, "to read when you are feeling brave".... There are no words to express what your posts do to me. You are the kind of woman I want to be. You are a world changer. You are a brave warrior woman.
      I pray for you when I think of you but my simple prayers seem so small in light of this difficult journey of yours.
      The only comfort will come from The Creator of the Universe.

      2 Corinthians 4:7-18
      7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

      13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

      16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

    8. Rebekah,
      what is the timeline for a possible reunion of little miss with her birth father? this seems so painful for you guys to endure, and for her to experience... telling her the other mom is her real mommy, I mean, this seems very harmful, obviously...

      sweet boy and little miss identify as siblings... will the system really allow them to be separated? is there anyone advocating for you, for what is healthiest for the children? seems to me that open adoption to your family, with supervised visitation for first mom and dad is the healthiest, most stable solution.

      can you clarify what the possible outcomes are for little miss and sweet boy?

      thinking of you... I never post in the comments, but I have been reading for years now. I know you are led by your faith, I just wanted to support your more "human" feelings of sadness, sorrow, fear, disappointment... its OK to feel these things... I know you know that, but I bet sometimes you feel like they are poison- when really, they are just part of the human experience.

      much love to you all...

    9. I can't imagine what you're going through and I don't know what to pray for except that God's will be carried out and he heal the gets off those who need it.

    10. You have the heart of a giant, RP. I can't even imagine how agonizing this is for you each week. I love you, and your beautiful family. Julie

    11. This melts and breaks my heart all at the same time. Praying for your family, Little Miss and Sweet boy during these difficult trials. Love is easy but it's so hard too. Praying for peace and strength on those Friday's when you sit on the other side of the partition. Little Miss knows you're Momm-E

    12. I've read your blog for quite some time. You truly have the heart of a Saint because I want to punch his face with that comment. How dare he! I'm praying for you all, especially your baby girl who didn't chose this disarray for her life, nor poor Sweet Boy who will experience yet another loss.

    13. I have a big, ugly lump in my stomach after reading this. It sounds heartwrenchingingly painful but I have a suspicion that it feels far, far worse than even that. Sending hugs and prayers that mom & dad DO get themselves together if only for the sake of these precious child that you cherish.

    14. I am not sure if my comment posted earlier.
      I have been a silent follower for awhile now. But today I felt a strong urge to comment for some reason. You truly have a heart of gold. Every child deserves to have a Rebekah in their life. I have been praying for you and your beautiful family.

    15. You are a very strong and courageous woman. I don't think I could have the strength you do in the same situation. I wish all the best for your family.

    16. Praying for you and your entire house hold!

    17. Hello! Rebekah, do you know who the Duggar family from TLC is? Have you ever been told you look like one of their young adult daughters? I am pretty sure her name is Jinger. I just randomly thought of that. I need to see a side by side comparison now. You are beautiful btw.

    18. So many prayers being lifted up for you. I can't fathom your pain, but I praise God you are such a light in that darkness.

    19. You are amazing. I am just reading from afar and I want Little Miss to stay with you guys. I can't even comprehend that she'd be better off with her first parents. smh

    20. God truly knew what he was doing when he gave this journey to you. No one is better suited. Keeping you in my prayers for strength and understanding.

    21. You are one strong woman! I cannot image the feelings that flood you daily. I pray for all of you and the hurt all of you are going through. In my minds eye, I do not understand the system and wish it would be better.

    22. Ive been on the other side of that door, begging God for grace, wondering how in the world I got there. Its hard and it seems like so many lose-lose situations. He knows.

    23. This sounds so hard. I'm curious though: if birth mom and birth dad are a couple, and birth mom is not allowed to visit with Little Miss -- then why would the court give her to birth dad? Because then she'll be with birth mom too, who the court decided can't keep her, right?

    24. Just wanted to echo that you are incredible and so loving, brave and selfless...there's no better mommy to Little Miss than you. She deserves the best; she deserves you and Ben.

    25. The Lord has put a verse on my heart this week and I just want to share it with you during this difficult time for your family.

      Deuteronomy 33:12

      “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him,
      for he shields him all day long,
      and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”

      You, Rebekah are his beloved. Young Miss is his beloved. Your husband and your boys are his beloved. Hold that in your heart, and know that even complete strangers are rallying around you and this situation right now.

      Amy Burke

    26. You and your beautiful family are in my prayers.

    27. I can't believe her birth parents are together. Oh my goodness. The birthmoms rights are terminated. I'm so confused by all that. They seem to be lying and cheating. In my mind, if you do things severe enough to get your rights terminated than you are a serious danger to your kids. Oh Rebekah. I admire you for your strength. Little miss needs you and Ben. Sigh! I love you guys. I'm sure the frustration I feel over your situation is only a small percentage of what you are feeling. Stay strong.

    28. You amaze me. You are very strong. To go through all this must be very hard. Take care.

    29. Oof - you're so strong. Your heart is so evident and yet all I can see is how poorly I'd react 6 different ways in those scenarios. Thank you for showing that not only can it be done, but it's worth it. I definitely hope to be so patient and loving, because you're right - what are we if we can't give love?