I sat across the conference table facing a mother whose pain gushed out of her and ran down her cheeks. Today was the day she was supposed to agree to terminate her parental rights and consent to having her child placed for adoption.
My job, as a CASA volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is to review cases where children are removed from their home and placed in foster care. I have been tasked to speak on behalf of the children and report back to the court what course of action is in the best interest of the child. Part of that job includes days like this where tough life collides with tough life-altering decisions.
As the mother sobbed I could see her mind wrestling with her heart. Her mind knew the answer but her heart wouldn’t allow her mouth to say what, in this case, was the right thing to do. To come to this conclusion as parent; to admit that your child is better off in someone else’s care is about six football fields beyond my comprehension. At this meeting this mother was realizing that what she had agreed to prior to the meeting was much harder to force out of her mouth; saying it meant it was official and permanent.
At different intervals during this painful process, I glanced at the mother and saw what HEARTBROKEN looked like and that image was speaking to my heart. This is the picture of adoption that is often deleted and replaced with a drug-addicted, promiscuous, immature girl whose party life takes priority over the inconvenient result of a good night of partying. In this broken mother, I saw my own birth mother and wondered if her struggle to terminate her parental rights was as hard as the struggle I was witnessing across the faux wooden table. I also wondered if I was tracing the flight-path of Icarus; an adoptee with a back stage pass to relinquishment could be dangerous. There were several moments where I felt my adoptee heart was diving and swooping too close to the sun. There were several times my emotions wanted to detach and run out of the room seeking shelter in some mindless activity far away from the sensitive nerve endings that were exposed during this too-real, too close to home exchange.
But…I have come to learn in this fascinating journey that it is right here in the eye of this hurricane where I find answers about myself. That statement may sound as if I am a voyeur to this process, but that was not why I agreed to advocate for children as a CASA. But…it is here where I find answers about this emotion-filled A-bomb called adoption, and it is here where I can glimpse shadows of my own birth mother and gain insight in to her experience.
The meeting with the heartbroken mother ended with her unable to say or consent to terminating her rights. Her heart and mind stood in opposite corners of her skull; both refusing to surrender and I understood in a more intimate way than I had before the anatomy of such a profound decision.