Today… this morning… it was the moment that I had been dreading. Eleven and a half months have gone by since we became foster parents to Little Man and Baby Girl and all of that time, I felt had been leading up to this very moment. The permanency hearing for our precious foster babies.
I couldn’t fall asleep until 1:00 a.m. the night before and then awoke back up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning before my alarm even went off. I got on my knees, my face to the floor of my bedroom and I began to pray. Every fear that I had inside of me, I cried out to The Lord. I begged for His mercy and His grace and His peace that passes all understanding. I drank my coffee, woke the babies and dressed them. We drove the 2 hours to the courthouse. A fellow foster mom sat with the babies as I sat alone with our social worker in a courtroom that was empty for 30 agonizing minutes. Court was supposed to start, but it didn’t and all I could hear were lawyers talking loudly in the hallway. Every few moments, I would ask our social worker, “Where is the judge?” or “What time is it?” I was restless and nervous, “let’s get this over with,” I thought.
After what seemed like forever, a uniformed officer entered the courtroom announcing the judges presence. He walked into the courtroom in his long black robe followed by four lawyers and the supervisor of DHR and that is when I realized it… they didn’t show. The biological family was not here. Not one family member from our precious foster babies’ birth family was present. This was the permanency hearing to decide the future of their lives and not one family member was present. Not one of them showed up. The judge asked, “are the parents here today?” and I wanted to stand, I wanted to say, “I am here! Me… I am here!” But, I sat tight and didn’t say a word. Even though these babies are my world. Even though they are as important to me as my three biological children at home, I didn’t say a word. My social worker had warned me not to speak unless spoken to. I sat still and calm and prayed, “Jesus, be with me, be in this room.”
At the end of the hearing it was decided that our precious ones would return home with me today. They would stay with our family. We get to keep them! Maybe not forever, but at least for now and my heart was filled with JOY! There was joy and there was sadness. My thoughts went to the biological family. What is going on in their lives that they couldn’t be here today? They were given plenty of notice, their lawyers were present, but where were they? Why didn’t they come? I may never know. They did not show.
I was awakened this morning by the sound of my cell phone ringing in my ear. I looked at the screen and saw that the children’s social worker was calling from his cell phone. That is weird in and of itself since the last time he called from that number was six months ago when I first added his contact information into my phone, so I was curious as I answered. “Hello!” “Good morning, how are you?” “Great, how are you,” I responded. “Well, we’re on the way to your house now,” was his response. Thoughts started racing through my brain! “Who is ‘we,’ he’s never brought anyone else with him before?” “Why does he need to bring someone with him?” “Is it because there is bad news?” “Is it because he needs help carrying ‘my’ two precious babies away?” “Am I going to live my nightmare today, the one where my Little Man hangs his head out the window of the social worker’s car as they drive him and his baby sister away and he calls to me, ‘bye-bye mama!'”
I know, I know, these children are not “mine,” they are in foster care and have another family completely, but after 6 1/2 months where I have been there for every diaper change, every meal fed, every bad dream, first steps, first teeth, first words, and so much more, they feel like “mine.” I know that they weren’t always part of our family, but now that they are, I cannot picture our family without them!
Their biological family deserves every single chance to get their children back. They deserve help! They need help! My job is to raise these precious ones to the best of my ability for as long as they need me. And, that is how long I will be here for them… from now until… for as long as they need me!
Oh, and you might be wondering about the whole visit thing… turns out the children’s social worker was training a new social worker on how to do home visits and that is why there was two of them! I am a crazy worrier, I need to get over that! No bad news today, no real new developments in their case at all. The social workers left my house with these parting words, “The babies are not leaving your home anytime soon, so just enjoy your summer!” And, that is exactly what we are going to do!
We had our monthly visit with our social worker from the agency this morning. It went very well. The babies and I were all set up outside ready to enjoy running through the sprinkler, riding bikes, and drawing with sidewalk chalk. The social worker and I talked as we watched the children play. We talked about milestones that the children have reached over the past month and how our communication has been with the birth family. We talked about the fact that another court hearing will be coming up later this month or early next month and how I should be prepared. All in all, it was a great visit that ended with eating popsicles on the front porch and then of course baths for the babies since they were incredibly sticky after their yummy snack!