I pictured a monumental, analytical space when I pictured the workings of the courtroom. Imagine my surprise when, upon entering the courtroom, it is a picture of the humanity in the face of foster care that is presented so vividly to me.
It was as simple as being witness to each of us taking our place within the courtroom.
The honorable judge was seated already. Her seat, at the head of the courtroom, is elevated above the entire room. Hers is a burden I do not covet.
I take my seat at the back of the room.
I speak only when directed to identify myself. It’s a picture in itself of the face of foster care as foster parents. Always present, always, our lead is in perseverance at our children’s sides.
On one side of the courtroom sit three individuals, each representing a working piece of the state, another face of foster care.
The ongoing case manager for our foster son and his birth family takes her seat. The assistant district attorney takes his place before her. Our foster son’s guardian ad litem has a seat behind her. This team, at its best, represents the reinforcement of the foundation of our foster son’s family, present to speak for the little boy we love.
His birth mother then takes her seat on the other side of the courtroom, alone.
It drew a stark picture. How your heart, too, would ache, if you were to see it for yourself, if you could see her in the light that we do. She was present, don’t you see? Present was the most consistent truth throughout our case. Presence, though not for everything, in one way or the other, counts. Don’t you feel it in your lives with your children, that hope that this is so, that your presence matters, that it speaks to your children what you hope for them? I know I do.
As she waits in her seat in the courtroom, I know that she has choices she is responsible for. She knows too, more than you or I ever will. She lives it. She loves her son. In this moment, present with her, I see that while the little boy whose fate we meet for in this courtroom has a precious life all his own, she has been pulled through foster care, too. She has a story all her own. And they share a relationship that will always be their own, something with a powerful potential for good.
Through foster care, I, too, would come to have something powerful and good with this little boy.
He would forever become my son, too.
I would see this also come to be in the courtroom, as it attempted to represent all of the life lived in between. What is mine with this little boy is most powerfully good when I am for his birth mother, too. I would see this both in life and in the courtroom.
To be for my son is to be for his birth mother, too.
If we as the face of foster care are not for the birth mother, who is? See it with me as she sits alone in the courtroom. Can I ever truly be for my son if I was not also for the woman from whom he was birthed? Surely, according to circumstances this will mean something different. It has even in our relationship. But it will always mean that we see her humanity, too.
In the courtroom that day, I saw the human faces of foster care, each of them. I’ll remember them always.