Today I found out that we are in the clear! No family members appealed the decision made by the judge a month ago to terminate the parental rights of our precious Baby Girl! Since the day she was carried into our home at 6 months old and the DHR worker told us that, “this could be for 72 hours or this could be for forever,” I’ve been ready for forever! We went through two years of waiting and waiting and waiting! Now, we don’t have to wait anymore! We get to adopt her! We get to be her forever family! We could not be happier!
There are only three more days until the TPR (termination of parental rights) court hearing for our precious Baby Girl. She came to us two years and one month ago a teeny tiny baby and now she is a sassy, smart, loving toddler. We love her! During the two years that she has been in our care our Baby Girl has seen her birth mother twice. Once at the 72 hour court hearing after coming into care and once last year. That is it. She has never called to ask about Baby Girl although she has had my cell number the entire time. She did not complete one step in her case plan. She disappeared, reappeared, and then disappeared again. She has been arrested and to jail over 5 times since then and is currently serving time for dangerous crimes. To say that I am overjoyed that this case is coming to an end and that it is ending with us grafting Baby Girl into our family for forever would be an understatement! I am in shock! I cannot believe this is almost over. In a few days the judge will terminate parental rights making Baby Girl a “ward of the state.” At that time we can then petition to adopt her. She will have our last name! She has had our love, our devotion, and our care for years, but now she will officially and legally be our Baby Girl!
Baby Girl came to us two years ago! Two years! So much has happened in the last two years, but one thing has always remained the same and that is our love for her and desire to be there for her forever! Our long journey to wait on her biological family to figure things out or make a decision about her future has come to an end. The state and the judge ruling over the case have decided that two years is enough time for her to live in foster care. Permanency is what she needs. We are the permanent solution. In less than one month we will go to court and be present as the judge terminates parental rights. After that we will be allowed to adopt Baby Girl! I cannot even express in words what this means to us! After 2 years of being her mommy and daddy and sisters and brothers she will finally get to share our last name!
She was “served” in prison. By law she has 14 days to respond. It’s day 13 and nobody has heard from her. The beginning of termination of parental rights is moving forward. I’m biting my lip with nervousness. Does she know that Baby Girl is safe, happy, healthy, and loved? Does she know anything about us? Does she care? I really don’t know. All I know is that it’s been over 21 months since Baby Girl entered foster care, entered our care. We are ready to adopt her. We are ready to be her legal family. We are waiting.
It’s my birthday! I woke up this morning to Baby Girl running into my room, grabbing my face with her tiny little hands and pushing my lips together while she said in her cutest little voice, “Kiss me mama!” What a way to start my day!
When asked by my husband back about five months ago what I would like for my birthday this year, my answer was immediate. “I want to adopt Baby Girl.” Little Man had just left and although they are siblings (half siblings, but we don’t use “half” in our lil world) their cases are extremely different. Beginning in 2015, after almost 14 months in care, Little Man’s case moved towards reunification while Baby Girl’s case stood still for months. After Little Man’s reunification with his birth family at 16 months with us, the question as to what would be the next move in Baby Girl’s case was raised. We had been asked many times before, but we were finally “officially” asked if we would like to adopt her. I remember, I screamed, “yes,” as soon as the social worker had finished her sentence. My husband held my hand. I bawled my eyes out! I picked up Baby Girl and cried into her hair. My baby, my precious little princess could soon be our’s forever! That was five months ago. Today is my birthday. No adoption date or TPR (termination of parental rights) date in sight. No communication between the people who are supposed to be moving this along. But, you know what! That’s okay! Because, there is this other holiday coming up and my husband will soon be asking me, “Hey babe, what would you like for Christmas this year?” and I will say, “to adopt Baby Girl!”
So, about a week ago I wrote a post. I was frustrated. I was annoyed. I was being selfish. I wrote about how I was “so ready” for the TPR (termination of parental rights) for Baby Girl to be over already. I didn’t understand why in the world it was taking so long when the evidence is so clear. I was in a bad mood when I wrote that post. Um… word to the future me… “Don’t write blog posts when you’re in a mood.”
When I woke up the next morning, I deleted the post. God clearly convicted me. The Holy Spirit whispered in my ear all night long, “This is NOT about YOU!” Wow! I was hit smack in the middle of my forehead with that one! I felt terrible. The truth is… NONE OF THIS IS ABOUT ME. It does NOT matter how hard this is! It does not matter how long we have to wait. It does not matter what we have to go through. THIS IS ABOUT BABY GIRL! ALL of this! Every day, every trial, every joy, every moment, it is ALL about Baby Girl.
One day (Lord willing), Baby Girl will be my teenage daughter and she may be having a “moment.” She may come to me and she may say something like, “You are NOT my ‘real’ mom!” She may say, “Why didn’t I get to be raised by her?” She may feel angry, confused, and frustrated. And, in that moment, I want with all of my heart to be able to say, “I love you, sweetie. I’m sorry you are feeling these things. We tried. Everyone tried. Every single person involved in your birth mother’s case was fair. She was given every single opportunity to be your mama. She was given two years. We tried. She just couldn’t do it. We were your foster family from the first moment that you came into foster care and we got to raise you and love you for two years. We couldn’t imagine our lives continuing without you. We wanted to be your family! You were ALWAYS loved! I am absolutely sure your birth mother loved you very much, she just couldn’t raise you. But, she was given every chance.”
This time of waiting is for Baby Girl.
We got a document from DHR in the mail last week. It had the words, “adoption by current foster parents” printed in the space where the current case plan was written. This is becoming real! We may actually, in fact get to adopt our precious one!
DHR has been trying to contact her biological mother for three months now and cannot find her. They have sent letters to every known address and have called every known number. They even called me asking when I had heard from her last and I told them it was in January. I did; however, have the number documented that she had called us from. I gave it to them. They called it. It was the phone of an ex-boyfriend who said she took off two months ago and that he hasn’t heard from her since. It is really looking like she does not want to be found. Nineteen and a half months in our home. Nineteen and a half months in foster care for our Baby Girl. It is too long. She has a family just waiting to be her’s forever! But, I understand why they do all of this and why they take so much time. It is so when we do go to court that the judge has enough evidence to make a decision. He needs to know that DHR has done everything in their power to reunite Baby Girl with her biological family. We are the second choice, the fall back choice, the last resort. I am okay with that. That, we will be!
That is it. That is where we are, we are waiting on a court date for the judge to decide if terminating parental rights is the right next step in our Baby Girl’s case. To say I am happy about this would be an understatement. I am SO ready for Baby Girl to be our’s forever! Do I feel sorry for her birth parents? Not really. I do not mean to sound harsh, but when it comes to children and their protection and their right to have a stable, healthy, loving home, I am FOR the child. I DO feel a tremendous sense of sorrow for Baby Girl’s birth mother and father; however. This is not the way it is “supposed” to be. Family means forever and this birth family has been broken and divided up. That should NEVER have happened! I wish foster care and adoption were never needed in this case. I wish drugs weren’t so powerful and didn’t have such a grip on some people’s lives. I wish mental illnesses were better recognized and managed before they became out of control. I wish all parents could put their children’s needs above their own. I wish for peace for Baby Girl’s birth mother. I see no future for her with anything other than pain and destruction in it and that breaks my heart. But, I do feel confident in this, she has been offered and given every single chance possible. She has been treated fairly. People have reached out to her and tried to help her. She has been allowed to fall several times over the past 19 months and nobody at DHR has held that against her. They have given her 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances. She has been provided a lawyer who fought for her rights even when she didn’t bother to show up for court. She has been given money, services, and medical treatments. She has been given time, lots and lots of time.
And Baby Girl has been with us, growing, learning, and being nurtured this entire time. We have loved her and her brother. Little Man and Baby Girl have been the center of our lives. We have prayed and begged God daily for restoration and peace and for a hope filled future for them. I have never prayed so hard! God is good! He is watching out for our sweet princess and He has a plan for her life. So, now we just wait, wait for a court date.