Olivia's birthmother is going to court this week to try to get her (other) kids back...the ones who have been in foster care. She has been doing everything she can think of in the past several months to better herself and her situation so that she could satisfy the state. And yet, recently, just before the court date, her life began to fall apart again.
We tried twice last week to meet up with her...to talk to her, support her, let her spend time with Olivia and have at least that bright spot in her week. Both times our plans fell through on her end. I have been thinking about her a lot, knowing that she is depressed and feels like she has no control over the bad things happening in her life....wondering how I can help her recognize her unique value and encourage her to continue to work toward making better choices and improving her circumstances.
I don't know what is best for those kids. I really don't. But a few days ago I had a thought of "what if" that gave me pause.
What if Olivia hadn't been placed for adoption?
What if she had spent these precious early years in the same environment as her biological half-sisters. This beautiful, happy, secure child who feels everything so deeply and dramatically...what would her life look like in the land of "what if"?
I picture a beautiful, scared little child who wears her emotions on her face and clings to her sisters...all of them just as confused. I imagine this boisterous little girl becoming trapped in a shell of fear, her extrovert-nature never emerging in the midst of the chaos. Or the on the flip side, she becomes vocal and violent, not knowing what to do with the anger and confusion she feels. So young, so trapped. And in this unstable world, unable to soak up information from the world around her, learning (as she does best) from her senses and absorbing things that barely register on others' radar screens. Her learning delayed, her emotional and psychological development stunted and possibly scarred for life.
I wonder how those girls have fared in foster care. Are they happier? More secure? Do they feel stable in their foster home? Or do they miss their Mommy so much that they can't fully settle in?
Please don't misread this as an argument for adoption vs. parenting, because that's not what it is at all. All expecting mothers have the right to decide for themselves whether they are ready to parent a child. If they choose to do so, we (society, individuals, family, friends, neighbors) should do everything we can to support their decision and help them become the best parents they can be. If every single parent was empowered to make good decisions, her children would be much more secure.
I wish so much that circumstances were different...that Olivia's birthmother had made better choices and that those kids could have grown up in her loving, secure home. I wish she could make a good example of her life...for her kids and for mine. I would love her to be a shining example for Olivia of what happens when you take charge of your own life and make good decisions. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. But we still pray for it.
In the meantime, I will hug my daughter and recognize the gift that she is to us, and we to her. I will rest in the knowledge that at least this child knows love and stability and is thriving in the midst of it.