Manolin's BioMom entered a guilty plea to the charges against her--the ones that left a seven week old baby with broken bones, a bruised spirit and a chance to break the cycle of neglect and abuse that has all but consumed the rest of his biological family.
A judge accepted the plea, and will be deciding her fate at a later time.
Pleading guilty looks good. It speaks to the optimistic, reform-minded members of the court who want to see change in the hearts and actions of the accused. It admits liability. It offers a glimmer of hope for a second chance. For the people who sit on the bench day in and day out, it is an uncommon breath of fresh air: culpability.
I did it. I hurt him. I shouldn't have. What next?
What next, indeed?
Manolin's V-Gal assures me that she is pushing for termination. His social worker is outraged at the entire case and says she is chomping at the bit to keep him out of the hands which perpetrated his abuse. Everything, everywhere says that this baby is home now. That the cradle he steals forty minute naps in will be a treasured part of his history. That the memories we have already made will be retold to him on his wedding day. That his last name will be the same as ours by next Christmas.
And yet, doubt lingers. My husband, reporting on the case today, gave life to the words that I really didn't want to hear:
"Be careful, Mary Grace. I'm not saying that you hold your heart back. I'm just saying that, well ... pleading guilty looks really good, babe."
Pleading guilty--admitting to sin--looks good. And why not? Coming clean before the Lord is one of the pivotal acts that cements our salvation. But the second step ... that's where the bluster of our good intentions is burned away and our surrender is complete.
What next, Lord? I'm giving it all to You. Lead me. You're in control.
Is Manolin's BioMom there? When the One who knit her together in her mother's womb looks into her heart, what does He see? Repentance? Manipulation? Fear? Anger?
I can't say what the judge will decide is an appropriate prison sentence for Manolin's BioMom. I won't allow my thoughts to wander to the places where my faith is stretched taut and I hand his round, wiggly baby body over to a person who once felt justified in repeatedly inflicting harm on the infant who had only weeks before floated safe and warm just below her heart.
Today, I am thankful that I am not the Lord. I am thankful that I do not have the job of defining fairness versus justness or of dispensing either righteous vengeance or undeserved mercy. But I am so, so thankful that there is EL ROI who does these things ... and who loves us, in spite of it all.