With the mother having been charged with abandonment of her daughter, we were finally free to seek termination of her rights, which obviously, thrilled us.
But the ball still wouldn’t be rolling quite yet. We still had a possible father out there somewhere to deal with. And, we had a set date for the pre-permanency hearing which wouldn’t come until Spring of the following year.
There are set time schedules for foster-to-adopt cases, and most cases are forced to wait until their pre-scheduled time slots arise.
The pre-permanency hearing, where the judge would finally begin to discuss what the best permanent placement for the child would be, is not set until a year after the child is brought into custody. In some cases, this made sense. In ours, it did not.
The mother wasn’t coming back. The father was unknown. Sweet Pea was flourishing in our home, and it seemed evident to all that things should continue to move towards adoption.
So, the social workers on our case agreed to hold a special meeting to discuss changing the plan to adoption early… six months early.
The meeting was set for just a few weeks away and we eagerly awaited it. When the day came, we practically skipped down the hall in anticipation of what this meeting would do for us. We’d walk in as foster-parents, and walk out as pre-adoptive parents… or so I thought.
When we got there, we were disappointed to learn that the plan wouldn’t change right then and there, with the workers. The only one with enough power to change the plan was the judge. We would have to wait for another hearing to be set, and there the workers would seek his approval to change the status.
“But we want you to know,” they warned us, “he may decide that we haven’t done enough to find the biological father… or he may want to give the mother some more time to come around… this is not a guarantee.”
Our balloon deflated, but we tried to maintain our enthusiasm.
“But once the plan is switched to adoption, it’s pretty much just a waiting game, right? I mean… she won’t be able to get taken away from us?”
Wrong. My face went white as a nice older lady felt obligated to tell us several horror stories of cases that had gone on to adoption, but something happened and before they could finalize, the child was taken away for one reason or another, even though they may have been with the foster family for several years.
After the workers had thrown fire on my fears, my husband and I left that building hand in hand, but with totally different outlooks. My husband was fine. He was excited that we were going to have the possibility of our case getting switched to adoption sooner than planned. His faith wasn’t shaken one bit by the horror stories.
Mine, however, was.
We headed to my mother-in-laws house to pick up our girl, and on the drive home I sat in the back seat right next to her, like I always did. But, I didn’t take pictures of her like usual. I didn’t sing her silly songs and make funny faces to see if I could make her laugh. Instead, I stared straight ahead, completely silent. I glanced at her a few times. She was watching me with her big brown eyes. And I had to look away.
I was going to cry. I had let the horror stories shake me to my core and I let my imagination run wild with what-if’s and how-would-I-deal’s. And I realized, maybe all those people I’d talked to at the beginning of our journey were right.
When we first began fostering, I had many comments from random people that all sounded the same…
“My husband and I thought about fostering… but I don’t think I could do that… to have the chance of the child being taken away from you after you’ve bonded with them… I don’t think I could handle that.”
My reply would always be… “Well, you’re not guaranteed forever with a biological child either… there could be car accidents or cancer… biological children could be taken away too.”
They’d glance down at their children as though they’d never actually thought about losing them, and I would continue my day, confident that whatever God allowed to happen, I’d be strong enough to get through.
But now, here…it was months later and I found myself imagining her being taken away with such detail that I actually felt as though it were happening, and it sickened me to my core.
Maybe I wasn’t strong enough for this, after all.
The following day, I let the fear consume me until I couldn’t handle it anymore.
I put on my running shoes, grabbed my phone and ear buds, and told my husband I needed some fresh air.
And I ran.
Have I mentioned I HATE running? But I had to. Something inside me was about to burst and I had to release all my tension somehow. I suddenly became tremendously grateful for the park and bike trail right next to our house as I sprinted around it in record speed, willing myself to exhaustion. I turned up my music as loud as I could handle it, pressed “random” and was impressed when the first song began to play.
“Courageous” by Casting Crowns.
I may or may not have been singing it while I ran, I really do not know. But I was feeling the words deep in my soul, letting them become a breathless cry out to God… Please, make me courageous! I can’t do this without you!
Forty-five minutes later, I dragged my feet down the street to our house, exhausted and recharged all at the same time. For after singing and pleading to God, He brought something to mind that I had heard before, though had never really tested myself.
There is power in the name of Jesus.
For the next two weeks, every time I felt myself getting anxious, I’d say “Jesus” aloud. I wouldn’t follow it up with a prayer. I wouldn’t add anything else. I’d just simply say, “Jesus!”
And the worry would wash away. Somehow. Without any effort on my part. I didn’t really understand it at first… I’d been having such a hard time controlling my thoughts. But somehow, just by saying His name, it was like He stuck a “dead end” sign on the pathway in my brain that led to fear and doubt. I was forced to think of something else. Something positive. I was forced to choose faith.
After a week, I felt my faith rising up again, gaining the strength it had once had.
In the week leading up to the court hearing where they’d request the plan be switched to adoption early, it was like I’d become a different person, one even more strong than the one before. One full of confidence and optimism.
I couldn’t wait to attend that hearing.
Once again, I believed that God was going to work it all out for the good of us and Sweet Pea.
And what He did was far beyond any of our expectations.
(T0 continue the story, click here)