giggles and tears–a baby D update

Thursday, September 13, 2012

For the first time since Baby D came to live with us almost seven months ago, I feel uncertain about his future. The complications pile up. I have the words of a couple professionals who have been in this a lot longer than me saying, “well, the longer a case goes, the more stuff happens, the more stuff comes out.” I have my own reticence about that being an appropriate attitude. When is it about one child’s safety, and when does it become about something a bit more, something a bit meddlesome and intrusive? Poverty, intelligence, and culture are not reasons to keep a family apart. Poverty, intelligence, and culture do, however, carry some baggage and barriers – certain ways of living, no matter if they are your culture and family structure and economic station, are unsafe for children. One’s past isn’t enough reason to keep your child from you, but one’s past should be looked at with extreme caution as a possible indicator of future behavior. Fortunately, I don’t have to make the decisions, but unfortunately, I do have live with the consequences and the second-guessing and the uncertainty.

On top of some discouraging news we received on Tuesday, first thing yesterday morning, I found myself driving home from a visit bitterly disappointed, fairly angry, fighting tears on behalf of the sunshine baby who was also disappointed and crying for his mommy in the backseat of my car. Four words, this kid says, and one of them is Mommy. He doesn’t mean me.

I wish he were more bonded to me. There’s a bond, to be sure, but I’m not confident it could actually be termed attachment. I wish he loved me more. I struggle with whether to try and work really hard on it, woo him, so to speak, or if I should continue to step back, support his attachment to his mother. So far, I’ve stepped back a bit. He knows I’m the babysitter. Maybe that’s been the wrong tactic? What if she isn’t able to regain custody of him? What then? At what point would he fully attach to me or someone else? What happens in three more months when Children’s Services will meet to determine if the case plan will remain classified as ‘reunification’ or whether they will file for permanent custody?

I have a certainty in my spirit right now that this baby isn’t meant for our family permanently. Even these disappointing setbacks haven’t changed that feeling. I pray that means he is reunited with his mama. For the first time since he moved in, I have a few doubts about that. If Baby D could talk, I have no doubt he would tell us he’d rather live with his mom. How can I advocate for him best – honoring his clear preferences, even as a baby, while still thinking about his best interests? I have no desire to see yet another family permanently torn apart, but neither do I want this sweet smiley baby to go home to an unsafe, unhealthy household.

He spent the afternoon refusing to nap, still clearly upset by the events of the day. After a short successful slumber, he woke up all smiles. Toddling around the living room, chasing Niah, throwing himself on the ottoman in delight. Something about the way he giggles can bring light to my soul on the dreariest of the days. I’m in love with the way he raises his eyebrows at me when I scold him, how his too-long hair causes him to walk around with his head at a slight tilt so he can see under his bangs (pray that mommy will let us give him a trim?), and the way the brown leather classic baby Stride Rites I bought him today are just delicious on his little feet.

I continue to pray, now with not a small amount of anguish involved, for mercy for our sweet boy. I honestly don’t know that the case plan will change at all given this week’s set backs. There’s still time. It’s unknown if what’s happened is a big problem or just a minor glitch. I am just mourning the loss of a fairly simple case that was progressing well, albeit slowly, towards a positive conclusion. Now things aren’t so certain, and I feel sad. Sad for our boy, sad for his mama, sad for the darkness and pain in the broken parts of this world.

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