I’ll Still Be Singing When the Evening Comes

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, I’ll still be singing when the evening comes.
From “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

Seven months and 14 days ago she was born. I had been waiting for the announcement, which came the next day. I had already contacted DCS to make sure our contact info was updated in her mom’s file…just in case. Two weeks later I heard that CPS was trying to track her down. I called DCS again. I waited for a call. No call came. A few weeks later, I found out she’d been placed with a friend of her parents, a woman who could care for her. I was relieved but still a bit concerned…what about the family preservation that we, her siblings, her grandmother and her mother all wanted? Another string of phone calls and more waiting. I wrote a letter to her mom and waited. She wrote back with her heart and gave us more numbers to call and an invitation to court. More phone calls. More waiting. We went to court in January but her mom didn’t show up. (The two littlest sisters met for the first and so-far-only time that day.) We filed a petition for custody. Waited a month. Went to our prelim hearing. Waited a month. Went to the next hearing date where the judge review the petitions and case status but didn’t have time for a custody trial with witnesses. Waited a month. Today is the day. The custody trial is this morning bright and early.

So much waiting. I hope we finally get our answer today. Baby girl has 4 people who want custody of her—it’s a good problem for a little girl. No matter what happens today, I know she is provided for, loved and wanted. These months of so many small steps with so much waiting in between have been trying. If we get temporary custody it’s only the beginning of a greater journey of many small steps and so much waiting. It’s worth it.

I will wait. I will wait for you.

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2 Responses to I’ll Still Be Singing When the Evening Comes

  1. Tanya says:

    Hi, I’ve followed your blog for quote a while and admire the beautiful family you have created. Today I have
    Clicked through and read your entry to ‘capture hope’. My heart stopped. I’m not sure if you realise but the words you wrote as you were fighting for Ali must now be words you heed yourselves. You wrote of the trauma to Ali to go to live with a stranger after being with you for 6 weeks. In fact you asked your dad to testify to this. You were adamant that her placement with a stranger could not be in her best interests. I find it interesting that you have forgotten this element while seeking custody for her sister. I wish you the best, and hope whatever the outcome it will give you peace but please reread your own words now as the ‘other mother’ trying to gain custody.

    • mahlbrandt says:

      Tanya, you’re correct that removing baby girl from her current mama would indeed be traumatic. Where you’re wrong is in assuming that I have forgotten how much that was a consideration in Ali’s case. The reality is that it’s been heavy on my heart from the beginning, and more and more so as time goes on. I hate that this legal process has been drug out so long already. We’ve been seeking to have baby girl put here with us since before she was born (by making our availability known to DCS) and then more aggressively once we heard from the girls’ bio mom that she too would like for them to be together. We’ve stopped many times to pray and evaluate whether or not this was the right thing to pursue. Every time it’s come back to these little sisters and the fact that they could grow up together. Loss of original family is a trauma that they’ve both experienced already and will continue to experience throughout their lives as they come to understand all it means. Preserving those family connections as much as possible is important to us. I fully believe that allowing these two little girls to grow up together as sisters under the same roof (not just sisters that see each other a few times a year) that another trauma is lessened significantly. I realize it would hurt baby girl to be removed from the woman she knows as mama. And I know that it would very much hurt that mama. Those thoughts are never far from my mind. (As a foster mama, I know both sides of this kind of trauma quite well.) The short term best thing for her would be to stay where she is, but there are many factors to be considered when deciding what is best for the rest of her 18 years of childhood and beyond. Many factors I cannot or choose not to discuss publicly. The main factor, though, is family preservation. Baby girl has an opportunity to live with a biological sibling. Ali never had that option. (Her options 2.5 years ago were us or another non-relative single woman with no other children.) If we didn’t truly believe this was in baby girl’s (and Ali’s) best interest, we would not have pursued it. Ultimately, it’s a very difficult decision, which is why the magistrate wasn’t able to make his judgement at the end of the trial. As we wait for the judgement, I have a lot of peace knowing that she has two good options where she is loved and wanted, and no matter what happens we will at least be able to keep in touch.

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