With almost a casual lack of thought I emailed our social worker yesterday to arrange an appointment with her for a post-placement visit next week. For some reason her reply, setting the date and asking me to bring the older kids as well sent waves of panic washing over me, taking me completely by surprise.
Why would I be upset? I'd known this visit was a part of the process, as much a part of the deal as the agency fee. I love our social worker; intimidating is not at all a word I'd use to describe her but rather immensely supportive. Why then?
As I lay here awake in the middle of the night after feeding Baby Bear and snuggling him back to sleep I am pretty sure it's the idea of what this meeting implies. A visceral reaction to having my parenting examined so microscopically, or the Mama Bear instinct protesting my children being scrutinized and interviewed. The fact that the option even exists to "disrupt," as it's called in the adoption world. The very word makes me sick to my stomach.
Baby Bear is mine now, my son. The four months since I first held him have passed in a dizzying blur of late-night feedings and daytime snuggles, of first smiles and of staring into one another's eyes as only a mother and baby can. The bond between us has been cemented with the glue of love, of hours and hours of closeness, of the mother love that would rip to shreds anyone who might try to harm him.
Yet to have to go prove that love somehow to someone else, to have to try and express it possibly in writing to our social worker seems ludicrous. I have no fear that he'll be taken away. Quite the contrary: he is thriving with us. But I still find the upcoming interview frightening beyond words.
I was reminded suddenly of a similar feeling of panic I experienced shortly after bringing Curly Miss home from the hospital. We'd gone through a traumatic birth, one in which her life could have been in jeopardy. Thankfully all had gone well, but the tight, anxious tones of the doctor and nurses as they monitored her heart rate through the long, painful hours of labor played back in my head. It occurred to me, a brand-new, exhausted mother, that I could lose my child. Illness, accident... they lurked seemingly so close and I fought against the floods of anxiety then too.
The only thing that calmed me then was the realization that my child belongs not to me but to God. I have been given the privilege of caring for her, the daunting mission of training and teaching her, the time to love her. But she is not mine. She is His. And her days are already numbered by Him.
A friend lost her little girl to cancer last year and her reaction surprised and blessed me. Through the confusion, hurt and pain, she stated over and over that her little girl belonged to God and it was okay that He took her home. Her level of trust and acceptance reinforced my own belief that I cannot hold onto my children but must simply trust God to hold them in His hands, even while I thank Him that I get to hold them in my arms for the time I have them.
And so I look forward to the years ahead with Baby Bear. With him, too, I must let go and place him in God's hands. For some reason I have been blessed to be chosen to be his mother, to get to hold him and stare into his dark, dark eyes, but I am still not in control. He belongs to God and in that knowledge I find peace from my fears, a quietness in my heart that everything is going to work out just fine. The upcoming interviews and meetings may feel unsettling and uncomfortable, but I can go into them with an assurance and peace that I am not the one in control, but that the One I trust is in control.