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.