Every year at Mother’s Day I pay tribute to all the people who help to raise strong children, but this year I’m really mindful of the mom who brought my kids into the world and then very bravely gave them up. It was about five years ago I was sitting in a courtroom, waiting for a jury to be selected in my kids’ bio parents’ parental rights termination trial, and their birth mother’s attorney came and asked me if I’d chat with their mother, because she didn’t think a trial was a great idea. I told her I’d be happy to chat, but that their birth mom likely wouldn’t chat back – she blamed me for not having her kids and hadn’t had a civil word for me in a year and a half. The attorney thought I might be surprised. So, there sat the kids’ bio mom, let’s call her “A”, in an orange jumpsuit, with a sheriff’s deputy by her side. A day earlier, I had handed the sheriff’s deputy paperwork demonstrating she had an active warrant for theft, with the phone number of a friend who would confirm, and she was arrested. That might sound super cold, and it was, but after eight pre-trial hearings with no progress, I was ready to move things along for the sake of what were then my foster kids, and I thought their bio mother’s arrest might do that.
So, there I sat, with A hurling insults and language at me for the first three minutes. After some boundary setting on my part, I showed her photos of the kids. She said they looked so happy. I assured her they missed her, but they were indeed happy, and that I loved them very much, but they were her kids, and she had to do what was best for them. It wasn’t about her or me – it was about her kids and what kind of life she wanted for them. She said she just didn’t want them to hate her. I told her we spoke about her inability to parent, not hate. She sobbed. I held her hand. We were there at least an hour, and I really don’t remember what else was said except that what was coming out of my mouth felt more like spirit than words. And I’ve never been more calm, more focused, or more sure of my words in my life. I excused myself and twenty minutes later, I watched A come out into the courtroom, stand before the judge, and relinquish her rights, forever and always, to her children. I think that’s worth noting on Mother’s Day.