Tuesday, March 08, 2011

those strange halls of justice

I saw the baby a couple weeks ago, coming from San Francisco and the best surgical care in the state, or so I was assured. She is still frail. She was traveling back to her foster mother, while her birth mom got dropped at my bookshop doorstep.

I got a baby smile, and a little more heartbreak.

The trial to determine ultimate custody of this child has been postponed yet again. Yesterday, girded in a borrowed suit-of-power, wearing my sterling Phoenix pendant and my bravest demeanor, I traveled with the midwife friend who so many years ago helped in the births of my three children, and consoled me through the early loss of a fourth. We are both under court order to appear and speak what we know of this mother and this baby.

In the overheated halls of justice, lined with numbered courtrooms for all sorts of family court matters, we waited. We looked at the list of cases on the docket and couldn't find ours; the bailiff explained that cases involving juveniles are not listed, but he assured us he would make sure we were called in time and guided to the right court door.

While we waited we talked with the beautiful redhaired mom. We met her mother and her mother's best friend from childhood. We were joined by the brave woman who runs the woman's shelter where baby and mom spent their first month, and where the young mom still lives, the baby bed still beside hers, the pretty clothing for a growing baby still there, except the little outfits she has sent on to the foster mother. We were joined also by another fierce woman who has befriended baby and mom. A circle of support. The grandmother is deaf, and so is her friend, but we carried on a little conversation. They had gone with my young mom to visit the baby just before court and they had pictures.

We looked at pictures. I don't know, perhaps I am imagining the sorrow in Reign's eyes. I was told she laughed.

Across the hall I spotted the baby's father and his mother; another grandmother. They were turned from our cluster, where despite the tension--or perhaps because of the tension--we were laughing. I looked at the back of the paternal grandmother, Heidi..and my heart went to her too, despite the messages I'd received from her son and from her that made me want to take the young mom and her child far, far away. So much...anger, so much judgment.

The birthfather slumped in his tie dye jacket. They had driven 600 miles to be here. The maternal grandma and her friend had driven about the same. Everyone was tired.

As we entered the courtroom I paused to introduce myself to Heidi and her son. These are strange moments.

Incomprehensible court babble. Clusters of CPS workers. Lawyers talking to lawyers. It took...oh, less than a half hour for the court to postpone everything yet again. The birthmom's defense lawyer is promising at least a 6 hour hearing; the state is hardlining the case. Everything is hardening.

There's a baby without her family. There's a young mother who cries herself to sleep sometimes, but who says "I'm not postpartum" and gets very defensive. There's a father who says he loves his daughter, who has seen her only a few times...and I believe he does love her, whatever he did in his relationship with Reign's mom.

There are sets of grandparents fretting and not communicating.

Tomorrow I'll find out when I go to court again. I look sometimes at the photo of Reign and her sad, wise baby eyes, and send her--through the universe--all the love I have, all the hopes I have.

As we were dismissed we paused to talk with the young mom and her mother a bit more. My midwife friend was curious what language the new mother first spoke--American Sign, like her mom, or spoken words. It was indeed ASL, and the grandmother laughed and signed that her own baby's first word--after mom--was for milk.

Some things are pretty universal. Right now, I'm tired, and hoping something wiser than I am will get Reign safe and home...somewhere...and heal all our breaking, breaking hearts.

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Blogger Sabine said...

Oh, what a heavy thing for all concerned. It sounds as if this is already going astray, so much anger stirred up, so much important time for mother and baby wasted away with formalities and whatnot. I hope things will speed up. Stay with it and tell us more when the time comes.

2:48 PM, March 08, 2011  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...

Hoping to hear something better soon...

8:17 AM, March 09, 2011  
Blogger Rouchswalwe said...

Sending good energy to you all! And hugs! And strength!

5:41 PM, March 10, 2011  
Blogger Kimia said...

I have the beautiful little Reign and the young mom in my prayers. hope to hear good news.


7:57 PM, March 10, 2011  
Blogger ocean lady said...

Such a painful tangled entry to this world. May the days to come be so much better. At least Reign's biggest problem now is too MANY people who want to love and look after her. Not to mention a (nearly) fairy godmother standing by all concerned as they search for a good ending.

7:48 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Thanks to all for your loving comments. Please hold all concerned in your thoughts and hearts; the court date is Monday, March 14, starting at 8:30 in the morning. My midwife friend and I will have to journey well before dawn to get there in time. The young mother has made arrangements to spend the night before the hearing in the city in question. It is going to be a very long day.

9:34 PM, March 11, 2011  

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