Four days before Christmas, on the 3-month anniversary of when Precious joined our family, we found ourselves sitting in the juvenile courthouse once again. This time we didn’t have a hearing; we were there to meet in the judge’s quarters and accept a surrender of parental rights from Precious’ birth mother. It was a rough day. Brave spent a lot of time holding her youngest child, telling her she loves her, kissing her big fat cheeks. She asked us a lot of questions about her sleeping and eating, if she was enjoying the toys she gave her at her last visit, if she’s sitting up yet or getting her first tooth, if we’re going to change her name. Brave was proudly wearing the locket I gave her with Precious’ picture in it and said she shows it to everyone she meets. She told Precious how she thinks about her everyday but she was really thinking a lot about her on her 5 month birthday, wondering how she was doing. I’m glad that things have smoothed out and that we have the relationship we do with Brave now. I’m not sure how things will look as we move forward. She asked if we can send her pictures on Precious’ first birthday with her face covered in cake. We assured her we will. She reiterated to Jason (since he wasn’t at the two previous visits) that she doesn’t have anything against us and never did, but just hopes that all of her children can stay in touch because it is not their fault all of this happened, it’s hers. She’s a strong woman and she has a lot of love for her kids. We’re praying hard for her recovery. It doesn’t seem like she has any confidence in or love for herself.
The actual surrender process was very bittersweet. Brave cried as she firmly answered all the judge’s questions. She understood what she was doing and why but it didn’t make it any easier. In other ways, it was a happy time. It was the same judge who had given us custody a little more than a month earlier. (We love her!) She was so happy to see that we were doing well and moving forward with an adoption attorney. Precious’ guardian ad litem who had been key in all of this was there too, and he was happy. The baliff who had been in court with us previously told both Jason and I privately how thankful she was that all this worked out the way it did and how it was not just a Christmas gift for us, but for her as well. The judge gave Precious a big soft teddy bear to commemorate the day. At the end of the process, it was just our family of three, our attorney and the judge left in the conference room. We were able to really thank her for what she did for Precious back on November 15th. She went above and beyond what she had to do because she believed it was the right thing to do and we’ve very grateful for her decision—she’s a very sweet but strong woman. She asked us to bring Precious back when she’s 16 so she can see that she’s still doing well, then said—no, don’t wait that long! Come back to visit sooner than that.
When we left the judge’s chambers Brave was already gone. We had been hoping to talk to her some more, to thank her and encourage her. I wanted to give her a hug. But it was too late. I know why she slipped out so quickly. I would have done the same thing. There is so much good and bad tangled together in this whole situation. We are blessed and we are grateful but we’re also sad for Brave and Precious. Please pray for them, especially Brave who is really hurting right now.
Precious’ mother requested two more visits before she surrenders her parental rights to us. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from our first meeting. We met her mother—let’s call her Brave, because she is—once before at a meeting at DCS and it didn’t go real well. But at this visit, the interactions between Brave and Precious were much better than I expected and for that I’m thankful. As awkward as it was and considering what a mess this all is, I realize now how truly valuable an open adoption can be.
Because we love Precious so much, I find it impossible to not care about Brave. Even if we’re angry about things that happened to Precious in the past, I see so much value in Brave. She holds a wealth of information about Precious’ family medical history, her ethnicity and heritage, her biological half-siblings, etc. The most valuable thing to me is to witness Brave’s love for Precious. There is no doubt that Precious is loved and wanted.
I call her Brave because what she is doing requires so much courage. She’s obviously a smart woman who has made some really bad choices. And she knows it. She openly admits that she made mistakes, putting her vices before her children. Brave is working hard to get her life back on track. Even so, she wants to release Precious to us so we can adopt her because she believes it’s what’s best for her and for us. Now that takes a lot of strength.
As much as God loves adoption, He loves restoration. I would love to see Brave’s life redeemed. And I am so thankful for the gift of Precious. It’s far from a picture-perfect story but I’m thankful Jason and I could be available for Precious when she needed us and to hear Brave say she’s thankful too—that means so much.
Could you imagine loving your child so much that you would willing let her go? She’s very brave. We’re eternally grateful.
• Last week I was “in” court by speaker phone. That’s the third time I’ve been in court in the past month. Oh, how my life has changed.
• Precious had her first “solid” food this weekend, if rice cereal counts as a solid. She seemed to like it but learning how to swallow it will take some time.
• My mom was asked to testify at a brunch for her bible study/prayer group this week, about the miracle God did for us and Precious. She asked if I’d say something afterward. I wrote a 5 minute speech and I’ve rehearsed it in front of Photo Booth five times because I get nervous speaking in front of groups. But I have a lot to say. (In case you haven’t noticed…)
• We had the first of two court-ordered, pre-TPR, supervised visits with Precious’ birth mom last week. It felt so strange going into it—it’s a mess and the situation is unnatural in so many ways—but it went much better than I expected. That’s a whole blog post in itself.
• I’m really thankful for the adoption attorney we found. She seems super amazing and her price is great.
• Thank you to all of you who have donated to our adoption fundraiser! Just through this blog post, we’ve already collected over $500. We are blessed and amazed. You guys are the best!
• I keep finding money lately. Mostly quarters. In random places.
• I helped my parents put up their Christmas tree on Saturday and then on Sunday my mom helped me with ours. (Jason is in Texas.) Precious loves how shiny and sparkly it is. She’s gonna make Christmas so much more fun this year.
• Our house, our beloved MCM ranch, is officially on the market now. I’m sad because I love it but I’m also excited about the new season we’re moving into. I am not really looking forward to keeping the house clean ALL THE TIME…