On Saturday night, my husband and I took Olivia to Boo at the Zoo.
Grandma and Aunt Lori came with us. We were prepared for a fun night of seeing animals and collecting candy. We didn't realize that we'd spend our first hour watching our own little monkey take delight in all the other children's costumes while we stood in line to get through the gate. Thankfully, Olivia LOVES other little kids and was pretty well entertained watching them as they danced around in their pirate and dinosaur costumes, impatiently waiting for their turn to get through the gates too.
We'd been standing there awhile, and I remember that I was looking at some little girls in line ahead of us and thinking, "I wonder why they didn't come in costume". That's when my husband turned to me with a look of surprise and said, "Those are her sisters."
"What?" It didn't register right away what he meant. And then I looked closer.
We were standing behind Olivia's birthmother's three little girls (OH YES we were).
Let me back up a little. A few months ago, I blogged about talking to Sarah* about parenthood and milestones and such. At the time, she was still living in the city where Olivia was born and she sounded relatively content. She talked about coming to visit our Nearest Large City, her hometown, in August to celebrate her birthday and spend time with family. We made plans to try to meet while she was in town so she could see Olivia.
She did come to her hometown, but she never returned to Olivia's birth city as planned. We had tried repeatedly to meet up with her, but some crisis always came up to keep her from meeting with us. I think she really wanted to meet with us and see Olivia. Unfortunately for her and her kids, her life seemed to be spiraling out of control. We never got the details on what, exactly, was going on with her, but it was evident that she was living crisis to crisis. A few weeks ago, I tried to call and found that her cell phone was disconnected. So I figured that was that.
So here we are, standing in line behind these three little girls. We recognized them from the photos Sarah had given us for Olivia's lifebook. We had met the oldest child before Olivia was born, and my husband saw her again when we tried to meet with Sarah back in August (the girls and their father were at the apartment where she told us she'd been staying, but Sarah was, well, detained elsewhere). It wasn't until one of the adults with them called her name that he realized who they were and recognized the oldest girl. But Sarah was not with them.
We were sitting there discussing whether or not we should approach them to find out how to contact Sarah, and every minute I could feel my Mom getting more and more uncomfortable. She has been VERY protective of her granddaughter from the moment we brought her home, and she has never liked the fact that we kept in contact with Sarah. She always felt that it somehow put us in some sort of jeopardy of losing Olivia (it doesn't, but try telling my Mom that). But we couldn't help ourselves...we needed to know. After a few minutes, we got up the courage to go up and talk to the adult who seemed to be in charge of these kids. She looked at us warily until we explained who we were. We told her we'd been trying to contact Sarah and didn't know where she was.
Well, as it turns out, the woman is a foster mom who has had these girls for the past three weeks. She has never met Sarah and doesn't know the situation that caused her to lose custody of the girls. She said that, to her knowledge, Sarah is still living in town.
It was very strange and surreal. My husband thought it was Providence. "There are no coincidences." Maybe these girls will meet again someday. At any rate, I am glad that the girls are safe. And I hope that Sarah is safe too. I have no idea what is going on with her, but it makes me very sad to think that this girl who was trying so hard to turn her life around (placing Olivia with us, trying to reunite with her girls' father to put a family together, trying to provide some stability for her girls) has had her life spiral so far out of control that she's lost custody of her girls less than a year after giving birth to Olivia.