My Day in Court

I’m sitting in Juvenile Court right now, waiting to testify about a child’s safety. Ultimately this hearing will determine whether or not a patient I was involved in will return to her biological parent or stay in foster care with a hope to be adopted. Big stuff. My role in this is very small. One tiny piece of the puzzle.

I come with a nervous stomach. Anxious. I hate court. Really hate it. I am praying I answer the attorneys’ questions in a way that will help the judge make the best decision for this young lady. There are many attorneys involved in a hearing like this. An attorney for the county. An attorney for the parents. And each of the girls involved have a guardian ad litem, each represented by an attorney. Situations like this become very complicated, and when you really stop to think about it, what an important role each of them play in the future of this young life.

This is a very broken family, parents fighting to maintain custody of their 3rd daughter, having lost custody of their 2 older daughters. Abuse. Drugs. Immorality. Shame. Lies. Regrets. Unfortunately, this describes many of the families with whom I have the opportunity to work.

There have been some delays, (not unusual for court) which has given me some time to visit with the foster mom for these two young ladies (two of the 3 siblings). What an amazing woman. She prefers taking in teenagers, because she says she gets too attached to the younger ones. I kind of laugh at that, as in my opinion she gets just as attached to the teens. She says by the time they are adults, she is ready to let them go. Funny thing though. Two of the many foster children she has cared for over the years are still living in her home, now as adults. (Having made it to college I might add!)

This foster mom has been providing foster care as a single woman, an elementary school counselor- for over 20 years. I asked her how she would define her job description. She said it is to help young men and women adjust to the situations they have come from, and to help them grow into productive adults. Things as simple as hygiene, organization, dress (physical appearance), ethics, morals…  Some of these kids come with a lot of work to do. A lot of lies to undo. Other children don’t require quite as much work. One thing is certain. She loves these kids. Unconditionally. Without judgment.

Now my confession. I mentioned there were delays in this proceeding. I became annoyed, impatient that I was sitting in court on my day off, waiting to testify. Thinking of all the things I had waiting for me at home. I have laundry to do, a house to clean, dinner to prepare… Seriously? I know part of the problem is the wall/distance I put up to protect myself from the content, the subject matter of the patients I see. But still. It didn’t take more than a moment after talking with this humble, noble woman to realize that I was being incredibly selfish. What could be more important than this?

Something I have really been convicted of lately is my selfishness. I am learning more and more every day, that life really isn’t about me. This journey I’m on is certainly a process. This foster mom has taught me a huge lesson today. A lesson about sacrifice, unconditional love, selfLESSness.  I’m definitely a work in progress. I believe more and more each day, even if it is just with our own family, or perhaps a neighbor or friend, we are ALL called to be more like this woman. Think of the difference we could make if we took action.

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