System Failure

Hunter remained in the hospital for five days.  After that first night and the following morning, Hilary and Steve didn’t return to the hospital.  My husband and I however had not spent a night apart since we’d gotten married, until now.  Maggie’s grandparents were allowed to have a visitation with her throughout Hunter’s hospital stay.  That allowed my husband to return to the hospital each night.

Unfortunately, Hunter’s chest congestion did not resolve in spite of all the breathing treatments and medications he received.  We returned home with a referral to the University Hospital.  There it was discovered that fluids had remained in his lungs from his birth.  During his eight months, the fluids became seriously infected.  With a procedure to flush his lungs and some extended and hearty antibiotics Hunter’s infection soon cleared once and for all.

It’s too bad the court case involving the children wasn’t as easily resolved.  Hearing after hearing allowed Hilary and Steve more and more time to resolve employment, housing and addiction concerns. With little progress being made, the Department of Human Services began discussing termination of parental rights.  Hilary would call often, late at night to talk with me.  She was overwhelmed and scared about losing her children.  She didn’t have the emotional tools to resolve all of the issues and concerns that were being brought up at the hearings.   What she needed was a foster-mother. 

Hilary had actually been in foster care herself as a teenager.  It’s what she knew.  Being shuffled from place to place.  Not belonging anywhere or to anyone.   Hilary is just like all of us.  She found ways she could to cope with her lot in life.  We all cope in our own ways.  Hers were self-destructive as often times, coping mechanisms become.  She didn’t have a strong support system.  There was really nothing working in her favor.  The whole system was ineffective and in my own opinion.. the system failed her.  From the time she was a child in foster care herself.  It failed her. 

The termination hearing was scheduled.  In the meantime the social workers were talking with Hilary and Steve to voluntarily terminate their parental rights.  Hilary didn’t want to give them up.  In her mind, it would be easier to tolerate if ‘the Department’ took them from her.  In that way, she wasn’t giving up on her kids.

The hearing was excruciating.  After discussion and input from this lawyer and that lawyer and a few questions from the judge.  It was ordered that parental rights were to be terminated. 

Hilary was trying so hard to be strong, her voice wavering as she spoke to the judge.  Tears leaked from my heart as Hilary’s eyes met mine.  Her pain filled the room.  She bravely walked to the table with the social worker and the attorney representing the State.  She picked up the pen.  Tears were splashing at my feet as she signed her name on the line.  My husband put his arm around my shoulder.  He was there to comfort me.  But Hilary was all alone as she walked out of the court room.  Behind her, only silence remained.


10 thoughts on “System Failure

  1. Heart breaking for you all and I will keep Hilary in my prayers…to have her life repeat that pattern with her own children. I can’t comprehend how her soul tore that day. Thank goodness you and your husband where there for the children Jeannie xxx

    • I have to believe that things happen for a reason. That behind every really diffficult or horrible thing that happens, there is somewhere, something good behind it.
      Maybe that’s friviolous thinking… but it’s what allows me to keep trudging through the ‘hard places’ in life when I’m in up to my neck.

  2. Not the happy ending to the story that I wanted. How incredibly heart breaking. I just cannot imagine being told you no longer are “mom” and “dad” to children that you desperatly want. The fact is though, that they have made some choices in life and choices have consequences, both positive and negative. Sometimes those negative ones are the most life altering. May God be with everyone in this entire situation (even though I am sure this was some time ago, scars I am sure still remain).

    • Sometimes happy endings come in spite of our humanness. Our loving God tries to lead us. Sometimes we choose not to follow. Even then, He is still with us and will pull us back on track if we’re willing to go.

      It’s that darn ‘free will’ thing that get us into trouble. I have a little stickie note on my wall by my desk at work that says, When we ask the Lord to lead us, we have to be willing to pick up our feet.

  3. Bless you, Jeannie, in your wisdom. Most especially that you “get it” when it comes to free will.

    Although this story is gut-wrenching, I believe it ended the way it was supposed to.

    Gonna put your sticky note on my kitchen door…

    Blessings and Hugs – Maxi

  4. Maxi,
    I can’t believe some of the intense situations I find myself in. I work in a very tense and ever-changing situation. Crisies abound. And often times you fly by the seat of your pants because you never know how it will end. Even when you think you know, life often has unforseen defining moments in store.
    Hugs and blessings right back to you,

    • This story has a happy ending:)As much as I hurt and cried and wanted to literally die,and prayed for my life to end many times in the first several years…I now know that life is a gift,from God!!!He gave me my strength and still does,and has forgiven me.I am most blessed to know that Hunter has you for a mother.Thankyou for sharing…as I read your words,i know I did what was best for them.May God bless and keep you….:)

      • I continue to applaud your courage!
        Your comment about happy endings deserves a reply. There are endings and new beginnings that are tided tightly together. One cannot exist without the other. Sometimes a situation must end in order for a change to occur. Life is indeed a gift from God. And only He knows how each of our life stories will unfold. Both your life and mine have changed in many, many ways since the first day we met. I know I never could have imagined what He has had in store for me. “Each day is a gift, we need only untie the bow.”

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