Sometimes, things don’t go the way we want. I believe in families and in foster care, this is at the core of my heart, but what happens when the case doesn’t go that direction? Sometimes, its that the rights of the parent get terminated.
It is when a case hits this point that my heart breaks in a new way. I won’t lie to you, there is a very small and very selfish part of me that feels like we won but here’s the truth – there is no winning in foster care. There is a larger part of me that is mourning for a mother who officially lost her baby today, mourning for a family that is no longer that and mourning for all the brokenness in all the lives that this termination will cause. In one legal decision, a child is free to become mine but is never again to be their mother’s.
This hits especially hard for me because we facilitate visits with the parents. For the last year, I have gotten to know them. We have talked about childhoods and other children. We have found similarities and even laughed a few times. We have bonded and yes, even envied each other over the loved we both have for this precious child. While these relationships with parents are never easy and can even be tumultuous, they are still a human, an image bearer and the parent – and thus a piece of this child I love so fiercely. So, it is not easy to think of them on this day and know that they are beyond devastated. You can say all of the clichés about how they should have worked harder but today, I don’t want to hear that. Today, they are going through one of the hardest things imaginable and their heart is utterly broken. Today, I want to mourn with them the best I can and pray for their broken hearts and their futures.
In a way, I am so thankful that the child is not old enough to understand the conversation that would need to take place if they were. This adds an entirely new heartbreak, on e that can’t be easy given any circumstances. To have to look a child in the eye and tell them they are not going back home when that’s what everyone has been working at for so long is gut wrenching and crippling.
In essence, termination of parental rights is one of the hardest pieces of foster care. My heart aches for the woman whom I’ve come to know because, whether you want to believe it or not, she loves her child deeply and today all hope is being stripped from her. Termination of parental rights is one of the most conflicting, confusing and painful parts of adoption from foster care.