June 24, 2012

Your Honor

Your Honor.
Although the chances of meeting you in person are very slim, possibly non-existent, I often think about you and the powerful impact you have in the lives of the foster children who are in my home.

I am not an attorney or a legal assistant or even a court reporter, nor am I personally acquainted with anyone who is.  In fact, I don’t know very much about the legal system at all.  Whenever a court hearing is scheduled for the families of my foster children, I sit expectantly by the telephone at home, sometimes unsuccessful in the virtue of patience, waiting in anticipation for news of the hearing’s outcome.  My opinion will not be taken into consideration.  My perspective of the situation has minimal significance.  So I must completely entrust the lives of my little ones into your capable, knowledgeable hands.  Hands that hold the gavel as it decisively bangs onto the bench, setting in motion decisions that will have permanent ramifications.  I have no say or influence in those decisions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am silent.  I often use my voice to pray for you.

Day after day, as you face the strangers standing before your bench, each trying to convince you that their side of the story is the most correct version, is it difficult not to roll your eyes?  I’m sure you could fill a book with the excuses, pleas for mercy, and extenuating circumstances that have been tearfully explained to you.  In spite of this, how I pray that your heart will not become hardened and cynical!  May you remain compassionate towards parents who are truly facing difficult, possibly insurmountable obstacles.

The mountains of paperwork on your desk that you must wade through.  The long list of cases waiting to be heard.  Each family’s story unique, yet with strikingly similar details.  Please don’t become weary and discouraged!  May the Lord continue to give you endurance and perseverance!  As you ascend to the bench each day, do so with resolve, knowing that the Lord has placed you in this role.  He has promised to strengthen you and sustain you as you depend on Him.
How is it possible to comprehend a family’s story, the years of history they have built for themselves, in only a few minutes’ time?  How I pray that the Lord would give you discernment as you dissect the facts.  Insight to distinguish truth from lies.  The ability to make wise decisions, decisions that will permanently affect the lives of children whom you will never know.

May I humbly make a request? I understand that everything you do is constrained by the laws that must be strictly adhered to and the legal procedures that must be followed.  However, within those parameters, could you please make every effort to keep the process moving forward as quickly as possible?  With every passing day, with each continuance or postponement, these little ones are growing older in the limbo that is our foster care system.  It may be tempting for you to think, “That child is doing so well, even thriving in his or her current foster home.  I will allow the birth parents more time to get their lives together, and order that the child’s placement remain the same.”  Please remember that children grow up quickly.  They will never be able to recapture these months and years of their childhood.

I take very seriously my role as a foster parent, and I truly treasure the children in my home as if they were my own.  However, my imperfect, transient love can never replace the stability and security of a permanent family.  Every piece of paper listing a different last name, each out of state family vacation in which they are not allowed to join, every time they need to receive a social worker’s permission to simply play at a friend’s house; all bear witness to the fact that they are only temporary members of my family, a tenuous relationship that could end at any time.

And unfortunately, as personal experience has taught me, even the most committed, well-intentioned foster families have uncontrollable circumstances in their lives that may affect a child’s placement.   What happens when the foster father gets a job transfer to another state and the family is not allowed to take their foster children with them?  Or when the foster mother unexpectedly gets diagnosed with cancer and her chosen role of care-giver is unwillingly substituted with that of care-receiver?   The foster placement may seem stable today, but with one phone call tomorrow, everything could change.  Because of the temporary nature of foster care, there is simply no guarantee that the child’s placement will be able to continue indefinitely.  Please.  As much as it is within your power, I ask that you use your position of influence to ensure that these children are quickly united with the forever mommy and daddy that every child so desperately longs for.

Your Honor, God has given you a high calling, the authority and unique ability to make a lasting difference in the lives of the most helpless and needy citizens in our society.  May you face each case with a balance of confidence and humility, every new family before you with the right mixture of fairness and benevolence, knowing that God has appointed you to this position.  Your heart is in His hand, and He will direct you.  May you be assured that the Lord is using you, your knowledge and experience, and your powerful role to accomplish His good and perfect will.

Very humbly and sincerely,
A Praying Foster Mama

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