I know a lot of people are wondering what's going on since the hearing last month, so I want to give a brief update on that before I get to the thing I actually want to say.
The short summary is that the boys' birth mom decided not to consent to our adoption, which means the case will go to trial for the termination of parental rights. The pre-trial is scheduled for late January. There will be another opportunity for the birth parents to consent to the adoption at pre-trial, but if that doesn't happen a termination hearing will be scheduled after that. We do not know how long it will take for this process to be complete, and after this process we have the adoption process to complete as well. It may be a long road, but we are in it for the long haul.
Also, for those who may interact with the boys, here's what they know: We love them very much, and we go to court to tell the judge how much we love them and how much we want them to be in our family forever. They obviously know that something went wrong in their birth home that made it so they couldn't live there. If you are ever around the boys when adoption or their birth family comes up, please, please do not speak negatively about their birth family. You also don't have to feel strange about it if they talk about anyone from their bio family in front of you -- this is their reality. Their family includes both their birth family and us, and it is not "off limits" to talk about their birth family or their life before they lived with us.
So there's an update on the legal process, and here's an update on our life in general...
There are a lot of emotional issues that we have to deal with, raising our boys who have experienced so much loss and trauma. I do a lot of research, a lot of planning, a lot of analyzing. We really try to be intentional with the way we parent the boys to address the heart issues of what is going on in their grief-ridden minds and hearts. Inevitably, however, things slip through the cracks. Moments pass by that could have been an excellent moment to reinforce healing or safety, and I totally miss them. But that's fine, because I'm human...and because I have a partner in this crazy thing called parenting. And my partner is a straight-up rockstar, and he seizes moments that I am too crazed or too distracted to see.
The boys experience a lot of anxiety when one or both of us has to go somewhere (let's be clear, if we both go somewhere there is a babysitter here with them). We always make sure to tell them where we are going, when we are coming back, what we are doing, etc, to prepare them for this disruption in their new-found stability. Still, this tends to rock them and leave them feeling upset.
Anyway, one evening Andy was getting ready to go to work (night shift, boo!) and Little Man was getting super upset about it, as per usual. And then, BAM!, my husband went into rockstar mode and turned this moment into an opportunity to speak love into our boys' deep insecurities. The conversation went like this:
Little Man: "DADDY, I NOT WANT YOU GO TO WORK!!!"
Andy: "I know, but I'm going to come back. You want to know why?"
Andy: "Because I always come back."
Andy: "Because I love you."
Because I always come back.
This may seem to be one of those things that goes without saying, but to our children, who have lived the majority of their lives with no stability at all, with ever-changing caregivers, with no concept of safety, this is a vitally important fact to communicate.
Since that day, we say this every day to our children, anytime we go somewhere without them. We have them repeat it back to us, so we know that they understand that we are coming back to them, that we care for them, and that we will be here to keep them safe.
This has certainly not erased all of their anxiety, but it has gone a long way to encourage their growing trust in us, which is a great step.