I pay my parking fee and make my way to the courthouse. Not too crowded yet, thankfully. I walk past all of the signs advertising help with a “One Day Divorce,” and ride the elevator to the 3rd floor.
And with just enough time to spare, I quickly visit the restroom, then check in and sit to wait for my family number to be called.
I come with expectations of a moment to sit. By myself. Yes. Normally, waiting is a necessary evil. But today, I’m thankful, and even looking forward to a few peaceful minutes to myself, … and hopefully, to lose myself in my Dan Brown book. Because back at home, I’m drowning in babies most every hour of every day.
But I can’t focus. In fact, I never even open my book. Because in this room today, …
I am feeling my privilege.
At times, so acutely that I hold back the tears.
I’m like a fly on the wall, but not.
The conversations are within earshot. It’s not like I’m eavesdropping. But since it’s impossible to concentrate on the adventures of Robert Langdon, I sit, mindfully, and absorb the reality of a world that I’m so comfortably detached from.
There are two moms seated next to me who, unlike me, are actually devastated to be child-free today.
They have both recently had children detained by CPS. Mom “A” is consoling Mom “B,” because by the sound of things, she has experience with the juvenile dependency system. In a sad twist of fate, she is acting as a mentor … coaching Mom “B” through her first experience having children removed by CPS.
Mom B is obviously distraught, calling out to the social worker as she walks by:
“Can you just tell me what’s going on? I just wanna know what’s going on!”
A reassures B, “You gon’ be alright. I really don’t mind havin’ them workers come too much. The thing is, I ain’t got no fridge right now.”
B, however, isn’t consoled. She is homeless, and as such, feels that the deck stacked against her when it comes to getting her kids back.
For about 45 minutes, I pretend to be unphased, even though I’m hanging on their every word while fighting back tears.
Both moms continue their variations on a theme: I do not want my parental rights terminated, and I do NOT want my children adopted.
If they knew who I was and why I was there, would they hate me?
I keep a low profile and hope they don’t ask me any questions.
I’m thankful that no one knows the business that brought me here today. Because if they knew, … how painful would that be?
For all of us.
How easy it is for me to sit in my house, that is equipped with a refrigerator, and forget that this cold, impersonal building that smells of stale cigarette smoke and feels like dysfunction is how our two precious children entered our lives.
How easy it can become for me to have a pity party about the paperwork, the appointments, the record keeping, and the training hours at times … when I have so much to be grateful for.
I was raised by great parents who taught me to have integrity, work hard, and show compassion. As such, I never imagined I’d come face to face with my white privilege in my mid-life years.
“Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.”
But here it is rearing is ugly head anyway, and you know what? I’m thankful.
I don’t want to tune this out, and I can’t keep pretending that it’s not real.
There is no doubt that parenting a black child has changed my outlook on many things in the last ten months. So my perspective has much to do with my transracial family. But how I wish I had had eyes to see and ears to hear before June 16, 2017.
There is no going back, and when you know better you do better.
I sit a few minutes longer. Mom A calls her BFF and has a loud conversation three feet from me. I wonder if what she needs is a quick re-connection with a safe person before going in to face the judge.
Eventually, the bailiff calls my number and I proceed into the courtroom. Somewhat changed from when I entered the building.
The hearing begins. Some things go exactly as expected and other things are a surprise. Before I leave, the judge makes mention of the fact that “the confidential foster parent is in the room.”