I have only been to court a handful of times in my foster parent journey, but it's enough for me to say I hate it. I'm hoping one day I will go there for an adoption and that will be a taste of sweet after experiencing all the bitterness. But I know even in adoption, there is loss. Hanging out at the courthouse just brings it all right in front of your face- the loss, the pain, the brokenness. I heard a saying once "hurt people, hurt people" and that immediately came to mind the first time I was there. Often in foster care there are cycles, generational sin that continues down the family line unless someone breaks that pattern. There was such a tangible sadness in so many peopIe's eyes and just an overall somber mood. I made eye contact with a young mom, her sunken body and scabbed face demonstrated her drug choice. She was yelling at a case worker and causing a scene, the first of many I witnessed that day. It's such a large, sterile building, with echoing hallways and a mixed bag of people. Normally I like people watching, but not here. Ive decided it's best to just pray while I wait my turn. Our court dates seem to be more frequent now that our foster son has been in the system over a year. I've been wondering if the 'I'm gonna puke' feeling goes away after you've been coming here long enough.
I always tell people court tends to be surprising. You go in thinking you are up to speed and kind of know what's coming with your case, but it ends up turning a different direction and some random piece of information always seems to come out of the woodwork. It's best to go into it with zero expectations, which of course is nearly impossible as a Mama bear who is fighting for these kids without a voice. Emotions are high as they should be when you love and care for someone so deeply. The trick is keeping those emotions in check and surrendering your plans and scenarios to the Lord, who is sovereign and has a plan that may look very different than yours. Court makes you feel completely out of control! You would think the foster parents would have more of a say, or be asked for more input, but in my experience that's not the case. My husband handles these things far better than I do, I tend to bite my lip and do a lot of head shaking, sweating and heavy sighing while I listen to things unfold.
This past hearing almost sent me over the edge. I realize I'm a newbie and I probably sound overly dramatic to the seasoned foster families who have been through all the drama time and time again, but I always want to be honest here.
I can't share as much detail as I wish I could, but basically there had been such little progress and effort being made on the parent's part, that we were at the point of discussing terminating rights and going the adoption route instead. We had been asked a few times if it came to that, were we willing to adopt. That was not an easy decision for me, I wrestled with it for a number of reasons, but came to the conclusion that we absolutely would if his parents weren't able to get him back. The whole team seemed to be prepping for that call to be made as we entered the courtroom that day, but I quickly realized the attorneys and judge were going the opposite way. There were all these bits of information surfacing and I wasn't sure any of it was even true, but lets just say it had the whole room in shock. Adoption was off the table, and we were headed quickly toward reunifying with his Mom. I felt like I couldn't hear anything after that, I was trying to hold it together but my hot tears were streaming and I just kept looking at Sam with my mouth open like "what is happening??" Once again the roller coaster analogy is relevant! We walked out in a fog and tried to get a better idea of the madness from our Case worker, but things still made little sense. I felt angry and protective, but tried my best to be polite and just ask for some clarification. In the end she basically said anything can still happen, but this is where we are headed as of now and we have court again in a month.
I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea, I'm aware the goal of fostering is to reunify families. I'm praying I can get to a place of being supportive and excited for her, it's just the way things unfolded and what is being considered progress is hard to swallow. I've raised this baby, he calls me Mama, and I want him to do more than survive. I don't want to feel like we are sweeping things under the rug or rushing the process because we need to close a case and make a deadline. This is his future we are talking about and I will be his voice wherever needed. I feel like it's ridiculously hard for me to come out of the mindset of 'we are adopting this child, he's going to be in our family forever' to 'oh never mind, he's leaving in a month and you don't have a say'. I felt like I was punched in the stomach. My head knew this is what fostering was like, but my heart was getting a real workout and I didn't feel ready. Deep down I knew I could get on board for whatever God had in store, I just needed some processing time. And thai food!! Our court day tradition is getting takeout and some ice cream, it just makes sense.
I held my babies close that night and tried to pray for my own heart, to not get in the way of God's plan for them. I know the Lord is okay with my tears and confusion. This is hard stuff. Later that week I read this verse and used it as a lock screen so I remember that we serve a God who loves to bring beauty from ashes and heal and restore what is broken.