I have decided I don't like weekends anymore, at least for now. Health and Welfare doesn't work on the weekends. Attorneys don't work on the weekends. Everything is at a standstill. Including my baby in the arms of another lady. I am trying not to get uptight about it. The good news is I get to just relax with my older kids. There's no appointments, no court, no phone calls, so many other things that are pulling at me during the rest of the week.
Last night I had the most wonderful dream. It started out with me rocking Bryer and then I put her in the front pack to walk around our little town and down to the school to pick up our kids to walk home with them and hear about their day. I nursed her when we got home and kids did homework and I read to them while I held Bryer on my lap. It was peaceful just being together as a family having a normal day. And then I woke up. My nightmare was my real life. My heart hurt as soon as I woke up and came to the realization that she's still gone. I wanted so badly to go back to sleep and get back to that peaceful feeling.
We went to church with Jason's parents and our kids today. My emotions were so raw going in. It was one of those days that I needed church, but I would have rather been invisible. I didn't want anyone to notice me. I just wanted to go and feel the peace that I needed to feel and not have everyone else know I was there. I wanted to separate my body with all the heartache from the rest of my spirit and just have my spirit nourished with the feeling there. Every song we sang meant so much more to me today. The last song we sang was I Need Thee Every Hour.
I do need Him every hour. I need Him for me, for selfish reasons, to comfort me right now while I'm hurting. I needed Him for Bryer for when I can't be with her. I needed Him for Jason and my kids, that we can survive this emotional and physical turmoil. I needed Him for our extended family who is helping us. I needed Him for the Health and Welfare system - that they will see the mistake they are making. Not in a 'neener, neener, you made a mistake' kind of way, but just to be humble and give our baby back. As I sat in that pew as the song finished, so humbled with feelings so raw and eyes full of tears, I said a prayer to myself for Him to fill all those needs. When I was finished, I felt a strong feeling tell me, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." It was a feeling so strong and such a drastic difference from the heartache I had been feeling.
This is the same verse that Jesus says as He is persecuted, hung on the cross to die. He asks God to forgive those that are killing Him wrongfully. If He could ask for that as He is about to die, could I possibly do that also? Could I forgive them right now, in the middle of this trial, for wrongfully accusing me? Not to wait for it to be over, but to forgive right now. It is completely true that 'they know not what they do.' If they could see the whole picture, then they would know that Bryer belongs with us. That we are a safe home. They would return her in an instant. Could God be working through us, even for our case worker? She has shared that she was once a Christian of our faith. If I were in her position, I would need compassion and understanding. I pray daily to be a good example. But most of the time that's for the easy things that come naturally. My heart is in a tough spot for her. She has enforced taking my baby away. Like a mother bear, I want to go into protection mode. If nothing else, I will continue to pray for her. I don't feel angry toward her. I just feel sad. Very, very sad. Ultimately, Health and Welfare is going to do what they are going to do. But how I react and grow will make the difference for me. It's a matter of uncontrollable verses controllables. If I do everything that I can possibly do, then God will make up the rest. I know He will. I hope that I can grow through this and not harbor bad feelings, however that can happen.
At the end of church there were lots of people that hugged Jason and I and told us they were praying for us. They were sincere and willing to talk and a few even cried with me. A few asked how Bryer was doing. It's hard to answer questions about Bryer - mostly because I don't know. And to say that I don't know, I have to admit to myself again that I'm not the one taking care of her, running her to doctors appointments, doing therapy, and all the things a Mom should be doing. I was thankful not to be invisible after all and to feel the hugs, the compassion, the heartfelt concern and hear of those praying for us. My spirit was nourished and the pain from my body was lifted a little as those around us mourned with us. I guess this is what it feels like to 'bear one another's burdens.'
Mandy, my friend growing her faith from our hometown, went to church again today for the 3rd Sunday in a row. She's keeping our pew full while we are gone. I am so thankful to see blessings along the way as people are touched. That's a grace from God for us to see. I don't doubt there will be eternal blessings - things we can see after this life - but I am so thankful to see the lives touched as we go. It makes the sting not so hurtful and helps me keep a 'big picture' perspective.
Today after church we worked on a tape recording for Bryer. Each of the kids took a turn singing and we sang several songs as a family all huddled around the little tape recorder. After I have covered the sight, smell, and taste senses as best I could for Bryer, this tape fills that 'hearing' piece that was missing for her. We are not musically inclined at all (except Jason), but Bryer will recognize our off-key voices and love it anyway. As we were recording, I started to sing You Are My Sunshine, the song I have sung to all my kids before every bedtime and naptime before I lay them down. I've sung or hummed this song thousands and thousands of times and it never hit me like it did today singing to Bryer on the tape.
You are my sunshine, My only sunshine,
You make me happy, when skies are grey.
You'll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.
I got a little teary at the last line, but I tried to be strong for Bryer and I kept singing into the second verse.
The other night dear, as I lay sleeping,
I dream't I held you in my arms,
When I awaken, I was mistaken,
And I hung my head and cried.
Needless to say, I didn't make it through the 2nd verse and had to rewind and record over it with another song. I will be looking for a new song for Bryer's bedtime song. It hurts too bad.
This evening as it got quiet after kids were in bed I started thinking again. I thought about Mary, the mother of Jesus. She let her son hang on the cross, knowing He was there to pay the price for the sins of every person who would ever walk the earth. She wept at his feet and was so sad. But she sacrificed her own needs and desires for Him and other's spirituality. I wonder what insight she had into her son's mission on this earth. If Bryer's mission is to bring people to Christ, can I have the same attitude as Mary? I am not comparing myself to Mary in any way, but am learning from her example. Can I try to see the eternal perspective of things - the spiritual side - when the earthly heartache is so much to bear? It stinks that we have to endure this trial. I'm trying hard, hard, hard to see the eternal perspective and see the big picture. I have no doubt that God loves us and hears our prayers. He surely will take all this into account when we stand before Him to be judged. It is just harder in the meantime to raise our kids, especially if we don't have the opportunity to raise them. I can't imagine how parents feel that have lost kids to a kidnapper. I feel my heart opening up for so many different kinds of people. I suppose that's all part of the plan. I can relate to many more types of people than I ever have before.
Monday, Jan.10, 2011
We have been allowed to email back and forth with the foster mom. She let us know that the doctor appointment went well today. She chose a pediatrician for Bryer that she has used before. It makes me sick that they won't let me even attend her doctors appointments or have a say in choosing her doctor. I have to consciously not think about some things or I get too upset. The foster mom let me know in the email how much she has been eating so that I can keep up with my pumping to match the demand. She also emailed me a couple pictures of Bryer. I have really mixed feelings about seeing pictures of her, emailed from another woman caring for her. I'm so happy to see she's doing ok, but it's so sad to see her in an unfamiliar place. I want to snuggle her up for the picture or wait for a smile or see her being held by a familiar family member.
Jason went with our attorney, Scott, to talk to the prosecutor in our hometown. They tried to get him to officially open a case in that county, that should have been opened before. They had previously made a verbal agreement to let all 5 of our kids go after they passed a child abuse screening. Now the prosecutor is unwilling to put it in writing and sign it. We have asked members of our community to call the prosecutor's office tomorrow and put pressure on him to sign it. We've had so many people asking how they can help - financially, physically, spiritually. This is a way and we've called on our community to take a stand for us. We'll see how it goes...
Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
The calls started as soon as the prosecutor's office opened this morning. His secretary took message after message after message about our case. One friend told us that when the secretary answered his call, he hardly got a few words in before she asked if this was about our case and explained she was making a long list of names of people that had called to pass along to the prosecutor. Not a greeting from the prosecutor's office. Just straight to the chase. They were so inundated with calls that they shut the phones off later in the day. Then the community members started physically walking in to the office to show their support. Each requested the same thing - that a case be opened in our county, as it should have been already. Despite all the support for us, the prosecution will not open a case in our county. This is an elected official, supposed to be the voice of the people. It's frustrating to say the least.
While all the support was going on at home, we went to court in the bigger county where the hospital filed papers on Bryer, for our Shelter Care Hearing. We asked for a continuance, as we hadn't heard yet whether the case would be opened in the other county. I hope in the long run this was a good choice. The case worker told the judge she had 2 visits for us to see Bryer scheduled this week - one for tomorrow, and one for Friday. The judge also instructed that Bryer should be placed with family as soon as possible, but that the specific placement wasn't up to the court.
My brother-in-law has continued to call about Bryer's placement in their home. One of the directors of the region said that the Department of Health and Welfare is very 'family first,' but that didn't always trickle down to all the case workers. She also mentioned that we would have 21 months to get Bryer back or she would be adopted out. She warned my brother-in-law that it is a scary process and that maybe the case worker knew of someone who wanted to adopt Bryer. The whole thing is sickening. Our clock has started and it doesn't seem to matter what we do, we're not getting any closer.
My mom has also started calling to ask about placing Bryer with her. She's started the paperwork to become a foster parent and has also called our case worker about having visits with her grandchildren in the near future. No response to voicemails from our case worker in almost a week from the time she started calling.
Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
We showed up at the Health and Welfare office for our visit with Bryer, at the exact time the case worker told the judge we were scheduled. The lady at the front desk said she didn't have any visit scheduled for us. My heart dropped. Our case worker 'conveniently' called in sick also. Ugh! I'm done. I'm tired of others lying to us. I just want my baby back. I don't want to rely on someone else to schedule visits for me. I don't want to get my hopes up just to have them crushed. I don't want to cry anymore. I just want my baby back and to go back home as a family.
The office workers were nice enough to call the foster mom and have her wake Bryer up to bring her into the office even though she didn't know we were scheduled. It took quite a while for her to get there, so I think Bryer is not in the same county they originally told us. More lies I'm caught in the middle of. I am grateful the foster mom was willing to make the trip and sacrifice her time.
They had to find someone to supervise us and we had to meet in a meeting room, not one of the typical visitation rooms like before. There was an older couch on one end of the room, so that was better than sitting in chairs around a table. It was just Jason, Bryer, and me in the room with an intern they found to supervise us. Bryer was crabby since they had to wake her up to come and she had screamed the whole way in the car. The foster mom made the comment that normally she is so content in the car. As soon as I picked her up she snuggled right into my chest and calmed down. Who knew a snuggle could have such a heart wrenching effect on a person? She nursed, but had a hard time latching on. It was nice to just sit there with just the 3 of us being supervised instead of the foster mom and extra people. It was more peaceful and Bryer was content the whole time and ended up going to sleep on me. Jason asked questions of the intern of why she was majoring in social work and told her a little about our story. I used to think social work was a good line of work. Now I have my doubts.
When we got ready to pack Bryer up to leave, I went to the bathroom to change into a new shirt so the foster mom could take my used shirt with my smell back with her. I asked her to specifically keep in near her as she was feeding.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Jason spent the day talking with legislators and advocates for people being abused by CPS. The fact that they even have an organization for that amazes me. The stories have come rolling in from other families that have suffered the Health and Welfare system needlessly. It's something that's unheard of until something happens to you. It's been explained to us that if a child is unable to talk and the child is injured, then the parents will always be questioned and possibly to blame. One scenario was that if a toddler gets into the dishwasher and gets a knife, trips and falls on it, unless you could explain what happened, you are at fault. I know that child abuse happens. It makes me sick, but I know that it's out there. Probably more often than my own naïve personality knows. But every bump and bruise, even a broken bone, is not child abuse! I am so thankful not to be in a doctor's shoes and have to make that call of what's child abuse and what's not!
The legislators have all been very supportive. They happen to be in session right now so they have all gathered from different parts of the state to go over laws and make changes at the capitol building. I am thankful for my husband who is so outspoken and willing to share our story. Funny that it was something I used to give him a hard time about and now it's directly blessing our family. I used to tell him, "The checker at the grocery store does not care what high school you graduated from or where you went to college or who you know that he may know." He's just that kind of guy.
This past week I've read through whatever I could find on the internet after the kids go to bed and articles my family has found. There are lots of things about Bryer that raise questions. The fracture on her head they showed on scans is nowhere near any of the markings on the outside of her head. Wouldn't there be some kind of bump or bruise or something if her head hit something hard enough to fracture her skull? There were no injuries to her spinal cord from what they consider 'whiplash' in SBS cases. Her retinas showed bleeding, but both retinas were fully in tact, another clue against SBS. There's also been some discussion about some elevation in specific blood levels, but I don't really understand it all yet. It makes me sick to research all this medical terminology. It's more than I want to know. More than I want to learn.