It's been a while since I've mentioned the legal goings on surrounding Oliver and Manolin's status in our family. To date, both are still officially foster children; no terminations, no finalizations, nothing to make their last names the same as ours.
Some days this rankles. Others, it feels like a side journey in God's slow working of His plan. Today, thankfully, is the latter.
I met with Manolin's social worker this morning. I'll call her Jenny. Jenny is a sweetheart with a hard shell--exactly what one needs to pull off her job with the grace she manages. Manolin's case is one of her favorites; she first saw him as a wasted, limp 7 week-old and now delights in rolling his fat wrists in her hand and remarking on his pot belly.
"You eat up everything your mom gives you, Bubba," she tells him at the end of each visit. When she says "mom," she means me, and this is like a balm for my soul.
Manolin's bio mom is under court order not to attempt to contact him for the next ten years. She hasn't laid eyes on him since she left his hospital room in handcuffs last summer. I honestly can't say if she'll ever see him again. How does one pursue a relationship with a child you intended to destroy?
Termination is right around the corner for Manolin, and as soon as the wheels of justice catch up to our hearts, he'll be ours in name as well as in spirit.
Oliver's case is always a bit touchier. Visitation resumed--but it's off again. His bio mom thought about relinquishing--but she changed her mind. The termination paperwork is done--but it's not filed.
Georgie--Oliver's state social worker--is a constant source of aggravation in my life. Her excuses and justifications wore thin months ago, and I'm trying to hold to the last scrap of Christian kindness I can muster every time her number comes up in my caller ID at this point. She is well aware of my frustration and has vented some of her own but always come back to "You're such a great family for Oliver. I'm working as fast as I can to get this done for you."
In the end, though, it's not for us. It's for them. For Oliver and Manolin. When the papers are finally signed, the message to these little boys will be clear: finally, and forever, you are home. No one can ever take that away from you. You are safe, you are loved, and you belong.
Until that day, we wait.