Each year I pray for a word or phrase that will guide me for the coming year. 2018’s word is Strength. It sounded good at the end of December when the incredibly challenging year of 2017 was grinding to an end. I envisioned exercising and eating right and getting active in a local bible study – that all fits with getting stronger, right?
Now one month and eight days into 2018 I’m wondering what God was up to with that word.
Isaiah 40:29 – He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
BD, Tim and I have been sick since December 21st with one infection after another. We have a days of good health but they have come between six sinus infections, two ear infections, two stomach viruses, RSV and pneumonia. It has been a winter of antibiotics, breathing treatments and lots of missed days of work. Thankfully, we are all relatively healthy right now. BD will be on breathing treatments for the next year and we are praying she avoids developing asthma like so many babies that have had RSV.
Our relative good health right now scares me – the flu is out there. I understand from coworkers who have survived the virus that it is nasty. One guy at work told me his body did things he couldn’t even describe and he saw things that were not there during the worst of it. Yikes. We all got our flu shots so hopefully we will avoid this year’s version of the plague. But then I remember my word of the year is strength. Well craptastic. I really don’t need any more immune system workouts.
I learned how a scary illness bonds a baby and her mother like nothing else does. As I held sweet little BD through the nights when she was coughing until she threw up every 10-15 minutes I wept. How could a momma not be here for her baby going through this? And there is no way in hell I was going to let anyone else (other than Tim) do this. As hard as it was, as sleep deprived and tired and sick as we got, I would do it over 10,000 times if she needed it. I am thankful for the medicine that healed her, for her doctor who knew what to look for and did the tests instead of patting us on the head and telling us it was a stomach virus (like I thought).
On the adoption front, my word of the year is also proving a little worrisome. During the worst of the RSV/sinusitis/pneumonia, we had a court date. We missed it but BD’s case worker (CW) called right after and gave us the low down. This was just a status hearing; we got a continuation until July. Yikes, that seems like a long time with no changes in BD’s status.
BD’s mom is in jail, facing 4 felony charges for theft and other charges. Mom’s attorney agreed to meet with his client and talk to her about surrendering her rights. If mom does this, we would be on the fast track to adoption. I believe that is unlikely. Mom told the CW that she wants BD and will fight to get her back (now that she is in jail facing a long sentence for her collective crimes). The six months that she was out of jail she did nothing to work her case plan, never called to arrange a visitation with BD and the CW was afraid she was dead and had started checking the hospitals and morgues trying to find her. So given her disappearing act, her current incarceration, her history of drug and alcohol abuse, and her history of losing custody of her children to the “system” and eventual adoption (BD is child three to be a ward of the state) her chances to effectively fight an eventual termination of her parental right are slim. Sounds promising for us, sad for mom and for BD. I love this little girl with all of me and it kills me that her family is not doing everything in their power to get her back. I know that wounds children, no matter the amount of love and good stuff we pour into her, this is a wounding that BD will carry her whole life. And that makes me sad. I love adoption and know this is the path God has put us on but man does it make me sad that adoption is even a necessity in cases like our BD’s.
CW said she believes Tim and I will be called to testify about BD’s development and growth while in our home at a TPR hearing to be held sometime before our next court date in July. Sounds good right! But then I worry. Will the judge and the adoption CW look at Tim and I and our age and say, no way. These two old geezers can’t keep up with a feisty little BD and decide they need to find a nice young family for her. I know that is crazy thinking but really, it is a valid concern. And when I think about how strong going through losing BD would make me I get weak in the knees. Please Lord no.
My prayer each night for our little girl is this:
“Lord I thank you for the gift of restoration and redemption that BD is to our lives. She is 100% yours and I know we are just the keepers and caretakers. She is yours. I pray that she will know you and claim you as hers at a young age and that she walks with you throughout her life. Help us to love and parent her well.”
I know that BD and all the other sweet children that have come into and through our lives and the ones we have not met yet, are all a gift from God. I understand that in my core. I am still committed to fostering, to loving children well while I can and helping them reunite with their families. I know this is what God wants. Even with BD, we are willing and hoping and praying for an open adoption, so that she grows up knowing her family of origin, has them in her life so when she has the hard questions, she can reach out to them for answers that Tim and I can’t provide. But I will never ever tell anyone that this is easy, this notion that you fall so completely in love with a child and then return them to their home is easy. It is not. And I selfishly do not want to do it with this child. So do me a favor, it someone talks to you about foster and adoption, just don’t say, “I could never do that because I would get too attached.” It is crazy to imagine that foster parents that walk through this craziness and hold these babies as they cry and rock and sing them to sleep each night don’t get “too” attached.
A foster parent’s life verse:
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Yeah – you get why I’m not loving my word this year.