We have had some hard years, it’s no secret, and some of our hard has been the same kind of hard any family experiences.
Some of our hard, though, has been unique to us… and yet not. There are others who walked with us through their own experiences of fostering. There are others who hold hands with us while we fight cancer. There are others who deal everyday with the specific communication with a deaf child, the overstimulation of an autistic child, the extra effort to listen to a speech challenged child, the wrestling with reactive attachment toddlers, and who have also pushed their cerebral palsy kids beyond what anyone said they would be able to do. There are even other parents with babies like ours, who stay up long nights to keep their child alive, who fight for every ounce of weight their little one can gain, who can walk through an obstacle course of baby toys and oxygen cords in the dark to get the magic cup that’s the only way to feed your little one without drowning them.
All of it together, though, has been a lot.
All of it while trying to keep our jobs, and homeschooling, and putting on events, and grieving the loss of my parents and our biological babies was a lot.
It has been a lot.
That’s the context of exhaustion with which we share what happened in court today.
We went for Baby Girl, expecting the formal announcement that the DA was filing for termination of parental rights.
At the last court hearing, they told everyone this, and the biological parents declared they would be demanding a jury trial because they were not going to relinquish rights.
We were prepared for this, knowing it meant we had to testify, and that all the doctors and helpers involved would get subpoenaed, and that if they won it would mean a longer battle when so many doctors say this precious one has not much time left to live.
It would mean six months or a year of court battles still ahead, knowing we might not have that much time left.
It meant holding fast to promises we have from blessings, all of which spoke of her shorter life (shorter than what? 106?), but also promised she would be sealed to us.
We are a family who does hard things, and we do hard things by acting in faith.
So I got up early this morning to do my scripture study, to make breakfast, to feed that precious baby, to get my children dressed and fed and started on schoolwork, and to drive to Tulsa.
I do what any mother of six must do, using the road time to make all the phone calls we had piling up. There was the school for the Deaf wanting more paperwork, there are new referrals to get for Mary’s speech since she got a new name, and the baby needed renewal referrals for the neurologist, and audiologist, and ophthalmologist, because every battle for breath complicates the rest of her body. I got it done, though, and parked my strangely quiet and empty car in the parking lot to take deep breaths and say a prayer before the next round of battle.
It isn’t us versus them. It’s about what is best for her.
That’s what I try to remind myself as I wait for our turn, praying prayers like Hannah, whispering answers like the mother in Solomon’s court.
Her last name was called.
My heart beat fast, while my heart nearly stopped all together.
I sat in the first bench behind counsel, a short pew marked “foster parents”.
The parents did not show up.
The judge asked about her health, talked to the doctors about how fragile she is, looked at her surgery pictures, and reviewed the facts about how the parents have only come to three of more than four hundred doctor appointments in ten months – and only one hour of six months of hospitalizations.
The judge waited.
Other families went.
No birth parents.
Then, before I could process what was happening the judge terminated parental rights for both parents, based on the “heinous and shocking” aspects of the case.
Just like that.
Just like that, it was done.
Terminated, just like that.
Nothin, nothing, nothing has ever happened so easily for us.
Not that the last year was easy, but there is no measure to the lifting of this burden!
Legally free, they said.
Legally free means ready to be adopted.
Just like that.
I burst out crying, sobbing tears held in for three whole years through eighty-seven kids, tears held in through tube feeding this particular child, tears held in through resuscitation breaths forced into her tiny airway, tears held in through so many times she has been on life support, tears held in through so many nights of her in pain after surgeries – with no neurotransmitters for pain control receptors because of drug exposure in utero.
I cried for release from fostering. I cried for relief that she is safe, knowing she has a lifetime of fighting to stay alive. I cried in anger at all she must endure. I cried for the love that swells in me for these children who are now called mine, and for all the miracles that brought them home to us.
This is Baby Girl’s latest miracle, as unexpected as anything, and almost without explanation for how it can be possible: suddenly, just when they say we are all running out of time, the baby is officially legally free for adoption.
Just like that: she is ours.
We will get an adoption date as soon as the paperwork can catch up to what happened in court today.
Ours, this Baby Girl, this Baby Girl we renamed a year ago.
Her birth name, which I am not posting here, was the name of a town blown up in Iraq the day she was born. Father is Muslim, and mother tried to honor him by naming her that when she saw it on the news while filling out birth certificates. It was a pretty name we didn’t mind, until we heard that.
That’s when we picked out a new name for her, sometime last summer while she was on life support and I was fasting and pleading for her to wake up.
She’s a miracle.
So many miracles.
We needed a name that meant that.
A name that means The Lord Delivers.
We picked a Greek one, from an ancient mass that I listened to and played for her while she was on life support, because she is such a spirit as that.
This is her name: Kyrie.
Kyrie, because she is a miracle, because she was delivered by the Lord, because we were all rescued by the Lord, because our whole family is a miracle.
She is a miracle, this baby we named Kyrie, and now she is ours.
She has always been ours.