I saw you in the distance as I walked through the security gate of the courthouse. You were standing in the middle of the foyer, looking both prepared and lost. I make it a point to arrive early every time, yet you always arrive first. Gone are your parents who sat beside you for the first court hearing. Gone is your baby’s father, who you thought truly loved you until he left home to run errands and never returned.
You stand alone.
I smile, and I see your body relax. I move towards the chairs and so do you. We stand for a moment, saying hello and other polite things. We haven’t seen each other for a while, but each time is less awkward than the one before. We sit down, side by side, and while I don’t mind talking to you, I also wonder when our caseworker is going to arrive.
I didn’t bring the baby. Not today. Not to this hearing.
Our conversation doesn’t involve the baby whatsoever. I ask about your siblings, your family and even about your other children; it’s a very fine line for me–wanting to know more about you, but also knowing your relationships hold a lot of pain. But I don’t think anyone sits and listens to you very often. So I continue to walk that fine line, following your lead as I seek to ask questions that you desire to answer.
You walked to the courthouse and will walk home. You made a point to be here.
The caseworker arrives, and I excuse myself to use the restroom. When I return, you turn towards me in a way that lets me know you want me to sit back down next to you. The various attorneys & other individuals come out of the courtroom, and we know it is almost our turn. The caseworker talks to a couple of people and gives them some papers. The guardian ad litem looks over, so I wave to her and she waves back.
Your attorney does not come talk to you. You continue to sit beside me.
It’s finally time to go into the courtroom, so we line up in our typical way; the caseworker, you, then me, then Mike. I notice that you look down at the floor as we file in and each take our proper places. The judge begins flipping through his stack of paperwork, then pulls his glasses to the bridge of his nose and tells the stenographer everyone who is in the courtroom today. The judge talks through the list of things you have done or not done these past six months. The state’s attorney, the guardian ad litem and your attorney get a chance to give their opinions and their recommendations. Our caseworker verifies some facts. The judge states his thoughts. Your attorney presses back with a different view. While the judge acknowledges your attorney’s comments, it doesn’t sway the judge from his ruling. The judge asks Mike and I if we have anything we’d like to add. I stare at Mike who simply answers with, “We just want what you think is best for the baby”. Court is adjourned. We will meet again in four months.
Not once did anyone ask you questions or give you a chance to speak.
We file out of the courtroom, and Mike and I wait to see if the caseworker needs to tell us anything before we leave. The guardian ad litem approaches us to make sure we understand what all occurred today in court. She then tells us what will happen in court four months from now. We have a friendly chat about the busyness of motherhood and our teens’ plans for the summer. Our conversation ends with a bright, “See you in September!”
I see your attorney come greet you and you both sit down to talk. I’m surprised how relieved I am.
Mike and I leave, and as we drive home we agree that today’s hearing was probably what we expected–we gained more knowledge of the case and discovered where the judge expects his final ruling to land. We return to our hectic, kid-filled home and continue with our everyday life.
And you walk home.
LeAnne is a mother of four children ranging in age from fourteen to three. After giving birth to their third child, LeAnne and her husband decided if they added more children to their family, it would be through adoption. Ultimately, God led them to become foster parents. They have had several short term foster placements, and recently adopted their youngest through foster care. LeAnne and her family remain passionate about the varied aspects of foster care and look forward to seeing what God has in store for them in 2015. Visit LeAnne’s personal blog!