from January, 2011:

I went to court a few days ago. A sad, unsettling  experience. I sat in the waiting room at the court house with numerous social workers, foster parents, and education specialists, all waiting our turn to assist in the termination of a mother’s parental rights. All of these people had been involved in some way in this little family’s life. The mother didn’t show up.

The judge went ahead with the trial. Enough is enough, I guess he thought.

It went quickly. There was no defense, so there was no cross examination. I was last on the stand. I answered the questions I was asked, and I was done. Wait, I wanted to say. There’s so much more. I haven’t told you about the way she cried in her sleep almost every night. Or how she squealed the first time she went down a water slide and then wouldn’t come out of the water for hours. Or how she pushed people away with her attention-seeking behaviour. Or how she cried after visits with her mom, because maybe I would die and then what would she do? Or about the time she took all the other children’s Christmas candy and ate it and then threw up in the night. Or the stories that she told of the things that happened to her while in her mother’s care.  Or how I loved her in spite of everything.

It was a little bit like trying to give a eulogy, perhaps. How do you sum up a life in a few sentences? In fact, the experience was not unlike a funeral. When I was finished, I walked out of the court house into the fresh, cold air and I thought, it is a terrible thing to contribute to the death of a mother.

The decision-making process in this type of case usually takes several weeks or even months. A social worker called me yesterday. The judge signed everthing immediately. It’s done. My girl is safe.

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I remember the day I took her for her good-bye visit. How do you say a forever good-bye to your mother when you are six years old? How do you take a child out of her mother’s arms, forever?

She put her no-longer-daughter into my vehicle. Thanks, Janelle, she mumbled, not looking at me, and she started to walk away. I looked after her for a second, this wounded woman who had caused so much pain in the life of this child I loved. I said her name and when she turned I hugged her. No, Jesus hugged her, and I whispered, Get better. Get better, because some day this little girl might come looking for you. And don’t you want her to find you whole? 

I don’t know what will happen in the lives of these people. I do know that there but for the grace of God go I. I could have been born into poverty and addiction and disfunction. I could have been born into lots of things that weren’t the loving, caring family and church and community with which I was blessed. And still, I am a broken vessel. Chipped, scarred. But willing. Willing to be used in my shabbiness.

So I give thanks for the blessings, and I pray that out of blessings will come blessings. That my Father God will use me to bless. To share Him whenever and however I can.

Remembering today the broken moms, the struggling moms, the hurting moms, and the no-longer moms.

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