Adios

We came back from our vacation, and the next day we had an email.

[Quick update on our trip for those of you who were waiting on pins and such – see * below.]

So anyway, after that we got an email about the hearing that had taken place Monday morning, saying that they have set the date for the mediation that will most likely set the date to send him back home. If I had to put money on it, I’d say we probably have a little over a month left with this big little man.

BEFORE YOU DISSOLVE INTO THE WAILING AND THE GNASHING…

It’s really weird. For the first hour or so after I saw that email, I kind of stared into nothingness (except the parts where I was playing with and snuggling the little dude, because literally nothing would have kept me from doing that right after we got home). My brain was kind of making up its mind, so to speak, and it kind of flashed between “Am I angry? Do I just want to quit? Am I sad? Do I want to cry? Do I want to open a bottle of wine at 10am? [I often joke about this but I am actually NOT {intentionally not} an emotional drinker, and I didn’t do it that day either.] Do I want to start writing a million self-pitying sobby pages in my journal? Do I want to shut everything out, put in a Blu-Ray, and escape into Hogwarts? Do I want to call someone and scream and shout about how stupid and broken ‘the system’ is?” And I just couldn’t decide which direction to go, exactly.

So I sat there, for a little while.

And played with my boy.

And then, it’s weird. I don’t know how to say it.

You guys, it’s okay.

I think that a few times between now and then, when he goes home, it will not be okay, not at all. There will be some tears dripped onto some pillow cases.

I think innumerable times after he goes home, probably until I am old and grey, it will not be okay, at all.

But really, though, it is okay.

We have talked through all of these things, so many times, Dane and I, with our families, with our friends, with our fellow foster parents and professionals… the truth is this: His father has done EVERYTHING they have asked of him. He has been unpleasant at times, and he has made some very questionable decisions, which are not okay and I’m not trying to excuse anything. But truthfully you guys, this is something that we need to learn and continue to learn for the rest of our lives –

People OUGHT to have their own children. To raise them and care for them. We all know that it should take a LOT lot lot to have your child permanently taken from you. Think about it.

We’ve talked about this before, but like on paper, yes, most of you would say that it would be “better” for a family like ours to raise a child than for an individual with some of the characteristics and habits that this particular parent has.

We have to think about it reasonably, though, and compassionately. We are not a society that determines that a child should go to the “best” – most capable or organized or polite or income-generating or whatever – family. And thank God for that. That’s some twisted sci-fi stuff. Think about it, really.

We came into this knowing that it is more likely that a foster child goes home than that they end up being available for adoption.

We knew that MOST of those children that go home, go home to situations that make people like you and me uncomfortable.

The truth is, this guy has done every service that they asked him to do. He has not missed a single visit, except two that he called ahead and said that he was sick and didn’t want to expose the baby. He has gone to counseling and to various other requested appointments and tests. This is WAY more than a lot of parents do, parents that still end up getting their kids back.

He showed up to his visit yesterday, which was our little man’s first birthday, with a big teddy bear, a big balloon, snacks and food, and a little cupcake.

We got into this knowing, in our heads if not really in our hearts, that the best possible scenario was for a bio parent to accept and perform services, to learn something along the way, to be forced by requirements to clean up certain areas of their lives, and to do all of these things even though they are not accustomed to them out of a profound love and desire for their child. Well, check, check, and check.

I am asked often why I think “these people” even want to raise a child, when they can’t keep a job, can’t afford food, can’t stay off drugs, whatever the situation is, they can’t can’t can’t.

I hope that you’ll hear this non-critically, because again, I know it’s not something we’ve all chewed on a whole lot, and that’s okay, that this is the beginning of a conversation.

But when people ask me that, why this person would even want to have the responsibility of keeping their child, I kind of want to say: How much have we managed to convince ourselves that “these people,” the poor, the addicted, the mentally ill, whatever; how much have we managed to convince ourselves that they are sub-human? At least not the way we are? That they would be somehow relieved to give their child to someone else, just because that person has a car or a college degree?

That’s messed up, y’all. It’s messed up. I’m guilty of it, in the past certainly and still to a very real extent, I need to examine it all the time. But it is wonky. Would you not fight for your child? What set of life circumstances would make you willing to “give them up”?

People ought to raise their own children. Obviously there are cases when this is not possible or safe for the child, and obviously I am not advocating 100% reunification by any means (we are in this hoping to adopt, after all), but you have to see the truth and goodness in a system wherein it is very difficult to permanently lose custody of your child. The alternative ought to be terrifying to you.

There is a whooooole lot of mess out there that is constantly communicating to certain groups of people, based on their birth / their upbringing / their social or economic status / their race, that they are LESS. Less able to take care of themselves. Less able to take care of their children. Less able to contribute to society. Less worthy which = worth less.

I know this is an impossibly complex thing to talk about, but as for me, I would just like to say that I would very much like to NOT be part of that voice. That voice, if you take it and flip it just exactly upside down inside out and opposite, sounds like Jesus.

My little boy, whom I love unconditionally and unreservedly, is not my little boy. He never was.

Dane and I said yes to something we were called to do, and I would not trade the past 9 months for worlds upon worlds. You will all be tempted out of your love and support for us to focus on the next 17+ years that we will not get to spend with this child. Thank you for your concern, but as for me I would vastly prefer to focus on the sheer delight of the past 9 months. That and the fact that there was a job set before us, and we did it. I know it’s not attractive to toot your own horn, but if I may say so, we did it really freaking well. We have had a blast with this child; we have learned so much and laughed so much and I can’t even begin to tell you.

A tiny, 10 lb baby was brought to my kitchen with only a hospital-issued diaper, a onesie that had been cut off, and a voice that was almost inaudibly hoarse from crying so much.

A hilarious, easygoing, confident, affectionate, strong 22 lb little man who knows how to navigate the world around him, how to explore and make his way, to feed himself and get around, to calm himself down after something unexpected and know that he’ll be okay, to share his snacks with any kid or dog that might be near him, to laugh and play and imitate sounds… that’s who is currently crawling around at my feet, making his new-found snort sounds.

Some of you might think we’re “back to square one,” maybe at least as far as our plans for our family go. That the last 9 months were a sort of failed attempt at adoption.

Respectfully, you couldn’t be more wrong.

This part is out of my hands, always was. The part that was in my hands – I have nothing I can look back on and wish I did it differently. That’s how I want to live my life – not having everything I want exactly how I want it, but being able to say I did everything I could with what I was given, and I didn’t waste away thinking about what was out of my control.

No regrets.

– – – – – –

Coming Soon:

“Nice Pinko Sentiment and All, But I’m Still Not Okay With This”

aka “What to Do With Your Holy Discontent”

 

*He did GREAT at the respite home, which I knew he would. They were the sweetest, greatest people ever. We got home late Monday night, so my parents had picked him up and put him to bed at our house, so he woke up Tuesday all the sudden in his own bed, in his own room, and with us to greet him first thing.

He was kinda…disoriented at first. As you would be. He kinda looked at us for a while like “…I feel like I know you guys or something, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on…” but then within about 30 minutes I’m pretty sure he forgot ever leaving. He was making his rounds from the bathtub (great acoustics for hollering, fun to drop things in) to the mirror in our bedroom (his best friend lives there, they nail the high fives EVERY TIME and he’s so darn handsome) to his toy chest, to the watering can (OH THE WATERING CAN) like he always does. With, of course, the occasional stop by my legs, to push up and stand there tickling me to where I almost knock him over. And all the while singing our duets (he’s a little pitchy though. We’ll work on it).

Anyway, so that was fine.

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4 comments on “Adios
  1. esther clark says:

    Absolutely beautiful. True love means choosing the beloved’s interests above your own. King Solomen would be proud of you.

  2. Rachel says:

    From a Friend of Lizbeth’s: This really spoke to my heart. My family and I have just started out on our journey as a foster family. It’s something we felt God leading us to do. Your writing was good for me to read and take to heart. It’s how I’ve been trying to look at things in my head and praying God will help me embrace with my heart! The coming and going has been beautifully painful – I pray with each child we’ll be able to echo your sentiments expressed here and smile with no regrets.

  3. […] is okay, for reasons I’ve already shared with you. I’m sure some of you are like “you said it was fine, and then you described an […]

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