Tuesday, January 10, 2017

She's Gone, But You're Here

The day I left the hospital with Spartacus 9 months ago I was contacted by a mom I know in the adoption community asking me to provide respite care for a couple weeks for their adoptive daughter while they waited for a bed to open in a group home.
After spending almost a month in the hospital with lil man, it was the last thing I wanted to do. But I know from Sweetie how hard it is to have an unsafe child in the home while you wait for an opening in a higher level of placement so I agreed. So per the mother's request I drove over an hour away to pick her up and brought her into my home. For privacy sake I will call this child Sparkle. Because that is what she has done. Sparkle came from a hard beginning of life, but in much different ways than kids in our system. Sparkle was born in Africa and lost both of her parents at a young age and was then adopted into the US by one family, who then rehomed her to another family. In my opinion Re-homing is a form of human trafficking. This is a short video about that.

The family she was rehomed into a very large family made up primarily of "adopted" kids, most from rehoming situations. That is a big part of her story and why the next 9 months became so complicated.
Assuming what Sparkle's family had told we was the truth, I was expecting a manipulative, lying and abusive child. My husband and I, as well as our home are prepared for children like this. We have camera's and alarms on doors. We have lived a therapeutic parents for so long now, it is part of who we are as people. I expected Sparkle to honeymoon for a while and thought we might get lucky and it would last the couple weeks until she got into a group home. I assumed her family had already taken necessary steps like a psych eval and that the group home was recommended by a licensed professional. When Sparkle first came to me, she wanted to emancipate from her family. She didn't want to tell me why. I talked to her about how difficult the process was and was able to talk her out of trying to emancipate.
So, I did what I should do, I worked with Sparkle on accepting that going to the group home was in her best interest. I talked to her about the homes I have seen and been to. I talked about how their programs worked and how she would be in a safe place to work through all the things she went through in her childhood. After some discussion she agreed that it would be a good thing to do.
She was still a bit nervous so I suggested we visit the place and meet the team who worked there. The day we went to visit this "group home" was awful, the place had so many reflags that I immediately begged her family not to send her. I did some research and found the home wasn't even a licensed home and practiced very non therapeutic practices. I begged and pleaded with the family. I prayed for God to open their eyes. But they wanted her locked away in this place until she was 18. They told me many times that they didn't want her. I even offered to take guardianship instead of sending her to this place. They did not listen to my pleads. Everything in my being screamed that we needed to help this girl. I consulted with some mentors and prayed about it quite a bit and then my husband and decided we would try to help her emancipate. At this point they had not communicated with their child at all and sent minimal support. Once the emancipation was filed they stopped any support. Over time more and more information came to light that just proved she needed help desperately and I promised I would do all I could to help her. About 4 weeks before her emancipation hearing, her family picked her up to take her to the "group home". At the first hearing the judge removed her from the group home and we became her legal placement. We went back and forth to court multiple times. Unfortunately, she could not be emancipated because she couldn't get a job. She was unable to get a job because her parents would not release her social security card. In the 9 months she was here, they would not support her schooling. So she was left without an education. One of her friend's mother homeschooled, so she put together a curriculum for her so that she could work on her schooling. Her education had been previously serious lacking. Months passed and I never saw any of the behaviors the parents reported.
A psych eval was scheduled and that found that she is a normal teenage girl. In order to keep her from having to return home, they turned the case into a DJJ case for running away. In which she never did, but it was the only thing that would keep her from going back and being sent right back to the "group home". It has been a horrible mess of legal issues and torment on this poor girl. Too much to even begin to write about. Meanwhile her family never contacted her. Instead of attempting to work on relationship with her, they put their efforts into trying to destroy the reputation of anyone who tried to support her. It has been so incredibly on the 3 families who have been supporting Sparkle during this. One even being chased out of her church. As part of the DJJ case she is now under the care of DSS and their model is reunification, even if that is not what the plan of the judge is. The family has spread so many lies and manipulated so much that Sparkle was ordered to go to a bordering school for 2 weeks and we are to have absolutely no communication with her. The family has convinced DSS that the I have manipulated Sparkle into doing all of this to rip their family apart. That she is doing all of this because I want her to. Her plan was not even to end up here. I have always been the one who would sit down with her and do pros and cons bout any decisions. I even told her as an adult I would pick the boarding school because it really is a good program and that she will get free college after that. But I understood that she wanted to be with her friends and close to her siblings. I trust God has a special plan for this child. She is strong and smart. She has represented herself against a lawyer and her family in several court appearances. I am so proud of her. She goes back to court in 2 weeks and the judge will talk to her about how she feels the school is and at that point make a final decision on her placement there. I am not upset about the school, it truly is a wonderful opportunity. But my heart hurts as I got to be a part of her being torn away from us today sobbing. For 9 months she has been part of our family. She has been listened to, she has seen how I live out living like Jesus. She has come to know God in her own terms, not in an adults. My heart truly grieves for her tonight because the last thing she said to me is "There can not be a God, he wouldn't let this happen".  I am working on a Beth Moore Study called " A Woman's Heart" and something she said in it sticks with me... This is God's plan A for us. He already knows our path. He has already been there and  he is there in it with her now as he is here with me know. Anytime you open your home and your heart to a child that is not yours, there is a very high chance you will have your heart broken. But as Ann Voskamp states in her book The Broken Way it takes breaking of anything for anything to grow... that even the mightiest of oaks was once a cracked tiny seed. Even our beings are made of broke cells that divide over and over again, creating us. My paraphrasing may be slightly off there, but you get the point. God does break us to make room for him. He breaks our hearts so that it can be capable of expanding to hold more love. He lends me these children for a bit of time so that I may water broken seeds and fertilize. And they often get repotted to thrive. They are ultimately his children and that brings me peace. So tonight I sit here staring at a beautiful painting Sparkle bought me for Christmas with her own earned money. I am grateful for my time with her. She has helped me grow in Christ and made me more accountable as a Christian. There is nothing like a teenager to make sure you are practicing what you preach. I am not the biggest on the preaching part, but she made me better at the practicing part anyways. I really care that she sees Christ love in me. I know I may not get to talk to her for 15 months until she turns 18. If that is God's plan, I will be ok with it. I can't wait to see what this little seedling grows into with the proper care in this boarding school. I imagine she will be a mighty oak, strong, able to withstand the most fierce of storms. For now I sit here, she is gone, but God, well my friends he is here.

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