It's July 2010...Sissy and Bubby have been with us for a year and DCS has filed for termination of the birth parents rights. We would have court hearings in August, October, and December. The birth parents were given public defenders, JT and I were served subpeonas, and in the end we would accomplish nothing. By January, termination was canceled and the bp's (birth parents) were given opportunities to "complete services" (required for reunification) by local agencies. There was actually talk of moving the children to a northern Indiana foster home where it would be easier for the bp's to have visitation with them. Their bond with the children had essentially dissolved due to the lack of time spent together. Since 'L' had moved out of state, she and one of the birth fathers had only seen them 5 or 6 times. The other birth father was a no show to every court hearing, and had made one visit to Indiana where it was very obvious the children didn't know who he was.
Anyway, those months were a constant rollercoaster...we didn't feel like we knew what was going on, one moment termination, adoption, the next moment moving the kids to a new foster home closer to the bp's so they could work toward reunification. It was just a mess and nothing made sense to us. As you can imagine, after nearly 18 months of life with them combined with the anticipation of adoption, we were mortified each time we felt we were taking a step backward.
One evening in January 2011, I was feeling particularly fearful. The reality of losing our children, of Rowan losing the siblings he's had his entire first year of life, was weighing heavy on my heart. Nothing was certain, but the idea that it was even an option at this point created a desperation within me that I can't describe. I talked it over with my husband and then I made the phone call. Until this point, I hadn't been completely real with 'L'. DCS filing for termination obviously had nothing to do with us, and as far as she knew we were still supportive of reunification. I hadn't really told her otherwise. During our conversation I poured my heart out. I told her what we felt was best for the children, that it had just been too long and to them, we were mom and dad. They were too young, unable to comprehend what was going on. They were so happy, healthy, bonded to us and our family, and they had no voice in all this. They had already been through so much, and the thought of them losing everything they had and starting over with a new life that has zero resemblance to the one they're living now seemed so wrong. I explained the very real possibility that she may not get custody at all and the children could end up with their birth fathers and separated from eachother. The two of them together was their only constant. Since Bubby's birth, they had never been separated. If anything I said to her that night hit a nerve...that was it. I told her that it wasn't her fault, but that it wasn't their fault either, and we just needed to take ourselves out of the equation and do what is best for them. I made sure she knew that she would always be a part of their lives if they became ours, and that she would become a part of our family as well. She cried, I cried, we were friends and this was the hardest conversation I have ever had with a friend in my life. We hung up with no conclusions made, but a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I held nothing back, I said everything I felt, and I did it with love. We had a hearing coming up in February and I knew seeing her would feel so different but I was prepared. We were still friends, but now she knew where I stood. I was no longer "Sammysaveherlife", I was advocating for her children, our children, and I had nothing to be ashamed of.
How on earth did we get here? We weren't planning to adopt through foster care, we weren't planning to ever feel like this. And once again, God shows me how overrated my plans are. The position we found ourselves in was a blessing for sure...but it was easy to neglect that fact and just be frustrated about the process. 18 months earlier, we were wondering if we would have the children for a month, and now we had spent 2 Christmases with them! There was a good chance they would become forever ours...a chance that didn't even exist for the first year. We had come so far and although fear played a very real part in our lives, we had a lot to be grateful for.
The following is an e-mail I sent on January 14th, 2011. It was sent to our prayer warriors during this particular phase of our journey. It was a hard day, an emotional day, so I asked for prayer while also self medicating myself through writing:) It's the perfect picture of how I felt... and I'm SO thankful I don't feel like this anymore!
Please pray for me ...the constant uncertainty of the existence of my family is really wearing on my heart today. Most days I'm a positive patty and I can easily snap myself out of it by focusing on God's plan... I don't know the ending but I know I'll be okay because He wrote it. But today, in this moment, that feeling is drowned out by fear. And I don't spend too much time worrying about my ending, but I'm scared to death for theirs. At this point, if they leave, it will feel like they are being taken away from their parents, not going back to them. What on earth will they go through? They have no idea what is going on in all this. They just know they have two parents that love them more than life itself, and we get that love right back from them. The thought of them losing everything they have, including eachother, brings me to my knees... as it should. I do know that you all pray for us... and I thank you. Please be a prayer warrior on our behalf. Sometimes I don't even feel like I can ask God to make them forever ours. I know His plan will prevail...and what if ours doesn't align with His? But I know the truth...I need to pray with faith, believing, that God can give us the desire of our hearts. He knows what is best for His children, it's in His hands, it always has been. These children make our lives full of purpose, there is a reason for their presence in all of our lives. And I am so glad God chose us. Even just writing all of this out is calming my spirit right now. I bet this letter is all over the place, sorry. My prayer for all 3 of our children is that they grow to know God and fall in love with Him and that His arms of protection will always be wrapped around them. I think once you fall in love with our Savior, everything else falls into place. For the 1st year of life with them, my purpose was to love them, and love their parents even stronger....to minister to and be a resource for them, and help their parents to get better whatever their struggle. Well, the compassion has faded, and I struggle with that too. I am done being a resource and encourager for them. My #1 priorty has become their children and what is best for them. And after 18 months in our home, I'm as positive as I can be of what "best" is. Okay... I'm rambling... but I'm not crying anymore :) Thank you and I love you!
Until next Monday....
Crazy Mama Crook