Happy Sad. That’s the best I could come up with to explain how yesterday felt. We are now the foster turned adoptive parents for Addison. That’s the outcome for us for yesterday’s court hearing. The implications for us of course are huge but the implications for Addison and her mother are so much bigger. We still have the adoption process to work through so I’m researching adoption attorneys and next steps. There remains some hurdles to overcome. We found out right before court that Addison’s two sisters are once again in state care. The state could insist that the three girls be adopted together but since the other girls are in another county it is all pretty unknown at this point what will happen with those two girls and what if any impact it will have on our adoption plan. But let me walk you through our day.
We showed up for court an hour and fifteen minutes early (no, not anxious or anything) so we decided to go have a cup of coffee at a diner around the corner from the court house and chill out. Even with the coffee break we were early and had to sit in the waiting area for 30 minutes. While waiting, there was a group of attorneys sitting next to us discussing their cases. It was pretty clear to me that one of them was talking about Addison’s case and he stated that the mom was going to fight tooth and nail. Ugh. When we finally got called into the court room, I found out the attorney that I’d overheard talking about the case is the state’s attorney representing DFCS. They brought Addison’s mom into the courtroom in chains, shackled. (I really hate that they do that for family court. Thank God Addison was not there.) I didn’t know if I should look at her and smile, didn’t know how to handle this at all when I made eye contact with the mother of the child I have been raising for the past year so I looked away. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL – Addison’s attorney) was late so the judge called a recess and the guards escorted mom back out of the courtroom.
During the break the DFCS attorney and the case worker called me over to their table and told me the mom was not going to contest the state’s case. I literally took two steps back as the shock registered since this was directly opposite what I had heard just minutes before in the waiting area. Thank you God! The mother had requested pictures of Addison and they wanted me to text some to our case worker. I came prepared. I handed them Addison’s school pictures that I kept in her court file folder just in case someone (like a family member) asks for a picture. In the thirteen months we have been involved with this case, this was the first time anyone asked for a picture. The deputies told us that the mom wouldn’t be allowed to carry the pictures back to jail after the hearing (weird rule, right) but that the caseworker could mail them to her in jail. When the judge reconvened the hearing and mom was lead back in, the caseworker held up the two pictures of Addison for her mom to see and she broke out in a huge smile. They explained to her that they would get the pictures sent to the jail so she could have them.
Then the case began. It was gut wrenching. Our beloved caseworker was called to the stand and walked through the case from Addison’s injury to present time. The mom wept. She started crying when they described the injury and I could sense that she was reliving that night when she got back home to find her three month old baby with a fractured skull. My heart broke for this woman in a way I just can’t put into words. Yeah I have been pretty angry at this woman I’ve never met. I distinctly remember the night Addison came down with RSV and I was up with her all night, holding her as she threw up every ten minutes. I was so angry at her mom. How could a momma not be with a baby during a scary night like that? How could a momma abandon a baby girl with a serious injury to fend for herself in the world of state foster care? That night I couldn’t be anywhere else but holding this baby girl that I love so very much and praying to God to keep her through the night so we could get her to her doctor in the morning. Even now I just can’t wrap my head around the abandonment.
But the experience of court yesterday certainly softened my heart. When the judge rendered her judgement to terminate the parental rights and then turned to us to congratulate and thank us for caring for Addison and talked to us about next steps for the adoption the joy was rushing in but then I looked over and there was mom. Tim said, “this is sad,” when the GAL turned around and congratulated us. It did not feel at all like a moment to be celebrated. I know that is hard to understand but to see a person so broken and so damaged by life lose legal rights to a child they created, even if that means we get to be this child’s mommy and daddy legally, was heart breaking sad. Sure, we know this adult made really bad decisions and did some pretty bad stuff to land her where she is in her life but the end of the day this is a broken woman who lost three children and the man she created them with, who is facing years in jail, and who is loved by the creator of universe just like I am. I don’t doubt that she and Addison’s father never planned for their lives to turn out this way when they started their family. The despair was palatable in that court room.
There is much that I am happy about. I am over joyed to be Addison’s mom. I love this kid in a crazy, joy filled, dancing in the rain kind of way and so does Tim. She is absolutely the center of our world. I can’t wait to do the adoption day pictures and celebrate with family and friends the culmination of this labor of love. For Addison this day that she was completely unaware of will mark her for life. I love adoption. Please hear that but I know that it wounds a child and leaves marks that can last a life time. As painful as the court proceeding was I understand why this mom would rather go through the pain of hearing all her parental failures paraded out for the judge and courtroom to hear instead of surrendering her rights; this way she can say “the state took you from me, I didn’t give you up” when she meets Addison. Thank God for the redemption that adoption brings to Addison’s and our life. She will be raised knowing that she has a momma and daddy that crazy love her and were overjoyed when she came into their lives as well as a mom and dad who created her and wanted the very best for her but just couldn’t give it to her themselves.
Our next court date was set for December 11. I’m going to push like crazy to get an adoption finalized before then and the judge indicated that earlier court dates are possible.
This is our BD, The Big Deal, Addison. The pictures are the ones we shared with her mom, her school pics from this past fall. She is an amazing little girl growing up too fast for us to properly document. She is happy and funny and never, ever meets a stranger.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.