The ache in my soul tonight just won’t go away. Today, in court, our precious baby’s biological dad, relinquished his rights. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever witnessed, and I was stunned! It took me by complete surprise! I knew that the birthmother was not going to show today, due to her attorney’s absence. I questioned whether or not I should even show, knowing that there would probably just be a continuance. Something inside me told me I should go. It was a divine appointment!!
As I entered the courtroom, I saw him sitting over in a far corner. I sat down on the opposite side of the waiting room. After chatting with the caseworker, I decided it would be best to sit and talk with him. She mentioned that he seemed like he would be open to talk about relinquishing. I listened in as he asked two questions about what relinquishing meant. Then, we sat in silence, as the caseworker returned to the courtroom. A couple of minutes later, he leaned over and with no eye contact, muttered, “Do you really want him?”. To which I responded, “I love him as if I gave birth to him…….but I know how much you love him too.” With tears in his eyes, and chin quivering, he continued, “Would you ever invite me to a school play? Would you change his whole name? What do you feed him?”
The questions continued and I answered to the best of my ability. I tried to hold it together. “I just don’t want him to think I gave up on him, or that he wasn’t good enough.” And the answers, though not comforting enough, continued. “He will always know you fought until the end. You’ve been dealt some hard cards in life. No one thinks you are giving up.” I pointed to his age (22) on the court report in my hand, “You see this? You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Make it count.” I explained to him how much I admired his hard work. I told him all of the wonderful things that a previous caseworker thought about him. He’s a good hearted man, stuck in a bad situation.
“I know that you are his real mom, and Clint is his real dad”, he said, with tears welling up. He wiped the tears from his eyes, “You’ve been there for everything: his first steps, his first words, all the doctor visits…..” The worker approached again, this time with the paperwork for relinquishing. She told him to look over it, so that he understood exactly what it meant. He rolled it up and continued talking. I honestly, don’t think he looked at a word that paperwork said. He had his mind made up. He continued with small talk and talked some about his seemingly hopeless situation. He mentioned that he had one request. Holding my breath, I waited. “Could you not feed him pork? I know that you are a Christian, but I’m a Jew.” Not completely sure how I responded to that one. Nevertheless, I am sure I exhaled loudly, as I was extremely relieved that this was his one request!
We talked for an hour and a half before the case was called. Nervously we entered the court room and approached the bench. Imagine, the scene as a 22 year old man approaches the bench, alone, to sign away his only possession. Literally, no family he can count on, no significant other, no job, no car, no license….. and he signs away the one thing he has left.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been apart of a court hearing like this, but it is gut wrenching. The judge asks about 50 questions to make sure they understand this is absolutely PERMANENT, and then they release that person from the court room and tell them that they are no longer a part of the case. The judge was not harsh or rude or angry, but the scenario is sickening. This father walked out with nothing. No one to hold his hand, pat him on the back, cry with him, etc. No support. So so thankful that the child’s attorney and judge both stopped and pointed out that someone should leave and check on him, as we were proceeding to set the next court date for mom.
When I walked out, he was sitting on the bench with a DHS worker who believed in him. I walked out with our caseworker and case aid, and we all went over to hug him. The last words we exchanged were these. “I need to give you a hug. I know this was so hard for you. You know I love him.” He replied, “I know you love him, that’s why I did this.” I let him know he could call or text anytime and I left………aching in my soul.
Amanda is a Christ-follower, wife to Clint, and currently a mother to 7 children. Over the past 7 years, she has parented 27 children. She knows what it means to experience heartache through the loss of children she had hoped would stay forever, but also knows what it means to find her identity in Christ. Although her and her husband know that not everyone is called to foster or adopt, they strongly believe that everyone should play a role in this crisis. She feels like she is continuously reaping the blessings of committing to this lifestyle and wishes that everyone could experience it! Check out more from Amanda on her blog!