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.