Friday, August 14, 2015

The Weight of Grace

It is a hard balance to maintain a semblance of community, privacy, and express emotions accurately through social media. For those of you who saw my FB status yesterday about our trial date and the outcome, thank you so much for your prayers and support. But unless you are a foster parent on this journey as well, it is hard to understand what actually goes on behind the scenes and all the emotions that we are dealing with. So while we are filled with joy that the girls' case is now moving forward towards adoption, we are also heartbroken. 

I think with international adoption, it might be different. All the legal work happens before you arrive to pick up your child. You never see the parents. It is simply a child who needs love and a home. In foster care, most of the time, it isn't like this. I have a relationship with my girls' mom. I know her. I interact with her. I make photo albums of the girls for her and whisper her name in our bedtime prayers every night. She calls to talk to the girls on my cell phone. And whether she is a good parent or not, like me, she is a mom who loves her kids. A mom who, as of yesterday, was just told by the Judge that she can't be their mom anymore. 

Now imagine yourself in that same situation. 
I've been weeping for two days.
Relief. Deep sorrow. Joy. Unbelievable grief. 

Eric wrote the following after being in court all afternoon. I hope that you read it and understand a little more of what we are going through. We need the community. We need the support and prayers. And we need you to understand. 

Many of you have been journeying with us in this process and we want you to know what is happening. Emotionally, right now, it feels easier to not try to rectify what we are feeling. To say "We did it" and move on with the day to day. But that would not be true faith we profess. It would not be grace. 

Yesterday I sat in a courtroom while a judge explained to our daughters mother why it is not in their best interests for them to live with her. The weight of those words still has not sunk in. As I listened to the judge explain the long list of reasons why I was a more suitable parent, my heart broke.

We received congratulations from states attorneys and case workers and nothing has ever felt more disjointed. I was being congratulated while 5 feet away a broken mother was just told her children are no longer hers. 

I am sure many of you are wondering how to respond. The truth is:

I don't know. 

All I can tell you is where we are at: 

We are grieving right now on behalf of our children, children too young to appreciate the gravity and brokenness of what they were born into. 

We are grieving right now with a mother who has lost the right to her own children, a mother who realized too late the gravity and brokenness of the situation she was in. 

We are grieving for the siblings who will never live under the same roof together again, siblings who have grown up too fast and been dispersed too soon. 

We are grieving for a father who knew his daughters for too little time, a father who may not ever be able to have a meaningful relationship with his girls.  

We are grieving for the innocence lost, innocence that should have given our girls a carefree childhood and instead was torn away by pain.

We are grieving right now for the scars that are left, scars that will heal over time, but that will always be there to remind them of their past.

We are grieving right now for the questions created, Questions of identity, worth, and self.

Most of all, we are grieving right now for the pain of a family being torn apart. 

We are grieving, not because we believe the decision should have been different, we do not, but we are grieving because the only decision that could be made is so painful for so many. We grieving not because the court was unjust but because the situation is so broken. 

In the midst of all of this we celebrate the joy that the girls have brought to our home. We celebrate the changes we have seen in them over the last two years. We celebrate the promise of a strong, healthy home for them.

And we are hopeful. 

We are hopeful that in the midst of the brokenness new life can burst through. 

We are hopeful that a relationship with the birth mom will continue.

We are hopeful that siblings will stay close together.

We are hopeful that one day the girls will understand that the fact that their birth mom could not take care of them does not mean that she did not love them.

We are hopeful that love is stronger than the brokenness.

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

As a side note, while parental rights were terminated, an appeal has been made to take the case to a higher court. This is not uncommon, and is a process that can take up to four months, if all goes smoothly. During these next few months while we wait out the appeal period, we will be working on adoption paperwork and subsidies to keep everything moving forward. Although there are still some legal hoops to go through, we are hopeful that everything will go smoothly and that we will be completing the adoption some time next year. Our girls do not know their legal status, and only know that they have a safe home with us and will continue living with us. Once things become more official and the timing seems appropriate, we will explain to them about adoption more fully. While we have already begun conversations about this, we are very careful to not make any promises until they are legally promises that we can, in fact, make and keep. If you see us and our girls, life is continuing as normal. No congratulations are needed until adoption papers are signed. Then, we will party. 
Thank you so much for walking with us and for your understanding.