It was October of 09 and we were finally taking the girls to meet our entire family in VA!
And we were having a blast! That is until we got THAT email...
The one from our lawyer with the subject line "bump in the road."
The girl's bio mom had changed her mind, wanting to undo the custody to us and her lawyer was calling an emergency hearing. My heart sunk! What did that mean? Where did she want them to go? Out of state with Grammy and Granddaddy? Surely not to foster care?!! I had a million questions and no answers! At this time we had no contact with the girl's mother so I just had to wait. But not for long. We finished our trip to Virginia and tried not to let the recent news steal our joy in introducing the girls. But it was a visible reminder that this might be the first and last trip!
On November 4th of 09 I tucked the girls into bed and prayed over them, silently crying and begging the Lord to intervene! I knew that the next day everything could change. They knew nothing. What a blessing! As I prepared to fight for their best interest they slept (somewhat) peacefully.
The next day I headed to court with Grammy and Granddaddy because Jim wasn't able to get off work with such late notice. I can't describe what happened in that court room! It was terrifying! The lawyer for the girl's bio mom stood up and said her client couldn't afford supervised visits so she was requesting the children be taken from our home and placed in foster care. She acknowledge that she knew they may be split up and that she would have no contact with the foster parents. I watched in horror as DFCS made their way into the room. No one talked to us. No one asked us how the girls were doing or anything about them at all! I was shocked, terrified and so disheartened at what I was seeing. I had such total trust that the Judge would do what was best for the children!
Finally after a few breaks for the lawyers to talk, the judge asked if I was willing to supervise the visits myself. I just had a picture of me pregnant, toting 5 kids to burger king and the confusion that would lead to for the girls! I in shock shook my head "no." But I wanted to scream "HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND!!!! DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN?! HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT HOW CONFUSING THAT WOULD BE FOR A CHILD?!!" He then asked her mom if she was willing to do it. She also shook her head "no." The judge in total frustration said that he was going to get DFCS involved for 30 days and that if we couldn't come up with something by the end of that that he was going to "have to do something that you Ms. _____ and the Richardson's are not going to be happy with!"
With that we were done! What had just happened? I couldn't even begin to explain it to Jim. We still had custody of them and DCFS was going to be in touch to set up a home study and talk to us about visitation and a family team meeting.
Looking back I now know that this was an extremely rare thing. DFCS doesn't usually get involved unless the children are deprived. The girls were not deprived. They don't typically get involved for visitation issues. I left shocked, confused, but my overwhelmingly feeling was sad that the faith I had in our court system was misplaced! I now knew I couldn't just trust that the court would do the right thing. I went home and held the girls and just cried and cried.
My life quickly became a balance of trying to take care of the children, go to my OB appointments and filter a flood of email and meetings that came along with DFCS. I remember thinking "this is not where I want to be but this is where God has put us so I will try my best to do it all as a service to Him." But that faith seriously wavered depending on the day.
Sitting here today, 33 weeks pregnant, all of what I just wrote seems an impossible task! But a sweet friend and mentor of mine reminded me often, "just do the next thing." So that's what we did. Sometimes it was day to day; sometimes it was hour to hour. I continue to be thankful that God is merciful enough to only show us what is directly in front of our face!
(some pictures of that trip to VA)