Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reunion. My Thoughts. A Question of Time

Time. Timing. All in God's time. All in good time. Too much time. Not enough time. Time's running out.

Time played a huge part in our reunion trip and our decision to take it.

Trust that Greg knew it was a good time for him. Trust that we as his parents knew it was the right time for our son. And we took time to prepare him and ourselves for the visit.

Late Summer, 2007 during the course of a conversation with Greg he expressed a desire to meet his first family, particularly his father, mother and little sisters. We took time to talk about this decision with Greg. We gave him time to change his mind, let him vacillate between wanting to go right away and wanting to wait.

I took that time to prepare. We became "approved prison visitors" so that seeing Sr. would be a possibility. We looked at ticket prices. We took out a loan to pay for the trip. I began counselling to prepare myself. We sought counsel for Greg.

Greg took more time. He changed his mind. He didn't want to miss hockey. School kept him busy. It wasn't the right time, yet. But THE time was coming.

May, 2008. Hockey season is over. Our summer stretches before us. Long weeks already filled. I find the boys' long lost brother on Myspace. Through him I find their mother, numbers changed repeatedly since our last contact, and she has moved several times the last year.

But the lost are now found. I consider this a sign of God's Timing. The Right Time.

Greg has decided that now is the time. The pieces of our trip begin to fall into place.

Now I have to make a decision. HOW MUCH TIME? How much is long enough? How much is too long?

This is an expensive trip for us. Hotels, meals, car rental, air plane tickets, entertainment. Its not a trip we can afford to do once a year. It has to be long enough that it feels like enough, but not so long that it drags on. Having never been through this before, I read, I ask, I pray.

Prison visiting restrictions mean that we can only visit Sr. around weekends. I make the decision that our trip should encompass at least two weekends in order to accommodate an additional prison visit if Greg wants it. We will arrive on a Friday night and will leave the following Sunday.

Foster family is in St. Louis. Sr. is incarcerated an hour from St. Louis. Mother and family live two and a quarter hours away in Jefferson City. Our time will have to be divided. Two weekends in St. Louis. 5 days in Jeff City.

And then smaller divisions of time. Time with friends. Good times. Distracting times. Play time. Times that were right to take for our sanity. A very good decision.

Time with foster family. Parents to my sons for three long years. They deserved quality and quantity time. The woman who chose me to be the mother of my sons. Who gave up her own automatic rights of legal motherhood if she wanted it but she chose us. She needed time with Greg and we wanted time with their family. 3 good days. Excellent decision.

Time in prison. First visit was perfect. An hour and a half. Good length of time.

Second prison visit. 3 and a half hours. Too long. Time stood still. It dragged its lazy butt forward minute by minute. Learned my lesson. Visits where we sit across from one another and talk need to be kept shorter. It's healthier. It's funner. It's less stressful for my son. We will use our time management with this in mind throughout our week.

Third prison visit. No time. Greg chooses not to go back. Sr. didn't know it was an option so wasn't hurt by Greg's choice to use his time differently. This is Greg's time. I trust him to know if he needs more time with his father. No, he wants more time with his foster father. We use the allotted prison visit time to take his foster family out for supper.

Time in Jefferson City. I have been asked why so much time? Why continue to spend time when things started to badly?

Greg was able to articulate before our trip the number one thing he wanted was TIME with his siblings. The siblings live in Jefferson City. Yes, they also live where his mother, aunt and grandmother were. Strangely, the best part of the trip was the seemingly endless amounts of time we spent alone with the kids.

Monday. Good day. Awkward times. Fun times alone with boys. Tired times. Very glad for day one.

Tuesday. Great day. Fun times. Lots of alone time with all the kids. Feels like strange times to me. The cracks in the adult relationships begin to show but barely. If our time was up on this day, I suppose, the picture of our visit would have been different however, we would have left with a very incomplete picture of the reality of his first family.

Wednesday. Awful Day. Should have been a fun day. Tried to make a fun time. Tried to buy a fun day. Failed.

L choose to lose the rest of her time with Greg by placing pressure on him. By asking him if he wanted to stay she lost out on all future visit time with Greg. My son, our son, is a strong boy. From that moment in time, our time with L was done. Over the next 2 days of our visit we spent a grand total of one hour and 10 minutes with L. Not a word exchanged from Greg to her after Wednesday. No desire on his part for more time. Her loss of time.

Could I have left then? Should I have ended our time together because of what L did? No. Greg wanted more time. Time with the children who have to live with the consequences of being parented by L every single day. He needed that time with his siblings, they needed that time with him. L lost on HER time, no more should the kids pay for her mistakes.

From Wednesday night through to Friday morning Greg and I spent many hours talking together, processing together and needing each other. We had special time. I gained time with my son to be together. To let him lean on me. This was HIS time, HIS visit, to make the choices about. He chose how to use the time we had there, and the time to leave.

On those last two days we spent over ten hours alone with his sisters. Precious, irreplaceable time. Precious memories of time that would have been lost if I took Greg's time because of L's words.

We spent 15 hours with his brother. Boys sleepover time. Long overdue time.

Time to leave Jefferson City. Time to let Greg enforce his personal boundaries. Time to say goodbye. Time for them to let Greg go again. Time for tears. Time for relief. Time to talk.

Ten minutes. Greg had decided it was time to leave.

I have spent much time wondering if Sr and his family get the glory in our memories because our time was so much shorter with them. What would have more time been like in a family with active drug addicts? With people so obviously struggling? Is our picture of them incomplete too?

But I continue to go back to what Greg wanted from this visit. Time with the kids. To meet his father and his mother and spend time with the kids. He met. We spent time. Children need time to begin to open up. To play together. We took the time to make memories. I have no regrets about that.

It was a good time. It was a hard time. It was definitely the right time for my son.


Anonymous said...

I read your blog entry today and thought, “L.’ question to Greg was not a mistake. Stupid maybe and ignorant, but not really a mistake.” How can the natural cry of a mom be a mistake? It’s not one that can be a reality anymore, but she spoke aloud what would be on the heart of any biological mom. (Why does the affects of sin have to alter God’s plans and perfect intentions.) L. being who she is would probably not be able to process or rationalize the impossibility of her question yet it is one she needed to verbalize.

This is a child whom she birthed, whom she felt, whose heart beat was part of hers. She never learned to parent, to do what all parents should know how to do. Now she pays for generational sin. Now her children pay for her lack of parenting skills and a healthy childhood. How L. must yearn for what Greg has experienced and will later be able to give to his children. A taste of perfectness, of heaven, God's intended design.(Her life is so messed up, I doubt she would even be able to verbalize her feelings; just know these yearnings are lurking there) The home that Greg and Eric have experience through your family is God’s grace, love, mercy to them. I don’t understand God’s choosing but He is sovereign. Without God’s intervention, they would have also walked in the shoes of their father, brother, cousins. Why does God choose one and not the other?

Perhaps L’s question is another one of those scenarios to anticipate before a child meets their biological parent – talked through so as to think through its answer. It would be a hard question for any child to answer – and that perhaps is the mistake; to have worded it in such as way as to force a child to choose. Instead to be able to say, “I wish things were different and that you could stay. I wish I had been a better Mom to you.” Etc. All the things you would wish from one who is mature. After all she is the adult. She however has not matured – and Greg is forced in a position of maturity beyond what a child faces. I remember the day I understood my mom’s limitations and wished I never had to come to that reality. I, however, was much older.

Now he’ll have to pray for her and at another time, perhaps know how to gently answer her question but with the tenderness and compassion of a young man towards the woman whom God used to give him birth. Your question may now be, “How do we lead Greg in a relationship with L. whereby she experiences the love of God through her son by birth? And this young man learns to express the compassion of God to a woman virtually a stranger yet tied to him by God’s design.” For she too is a child of God and needs to experience God’s grace, mercy and love. Perhaps she'll grow to understand it through Greg and your family. This ultimately is God’s story. One that brings Him glory.

Unknown said...

Lots to think about in your comment. In many ways I agree, in others I wonder at GREG'S responsibility in this.

This part *****Your question may now be, “How do we lead Greg in a relationship with L. whereby she experiences the love of God through her son by birth? And this young man learns to express the compassion of God to a woman virtually a stranger yet tied to him by God’s design.” *****

I dont ever want my kids to feel responsible to "save" L. Because Greg and Eric have been blessed with much, that doesn't mean they are responsibile to fix what is wrong with L or what is wrong in the lives of their siblings. Greg needs to forgive her for the abuse he sufferred at her hands, Eric needs to come to terms with the special needs he has because of her choices 'while their hearts beat as one' but that is for THEIR OWN sakes, not for hers.

God may use our family to reach her, but its not our family's job to "save" her. Yes I expect the boys to treat her with respect and act in a kind way (You cannot force love) but I cannot and will not force them to have a relationship with her because they "should be" or because she misses them. They can't undo her choices, nor should they be expected to.

We have consistently modeled love, kindness, grace, forgiveness and acceptance to L, but at some point she has to make the choice to either accept or reject the invitation for a relationship with God on her own. And for a relationship with the boys. A relationship that is safe for them physically, emotionally and spiritually.

skirbo said...

All I can really say is that you are an amazing woman. Your experiences are very valuable for me personally and I can't thank you enough for sharing them.


Blessed Mom of Four AND More said...

I am going to have to take some time to read all about your last summer. Another BB family shared your blog address with me.

We have 5 kids, two bio, 2 adopted from China, and one for whom we are legal guardians.

Our son Brandon's bio mom passed away when he was 6 years old. He is now 18 and desires to meet his birth father. He has NEVER met him. We have spoken on the phone now, twice, and plan to see him in 2 weeks. Please share any thoughts you have...email me....

God Bless,