Saturday, August 2, 2008

God's story, part 4

And now, back to the story...

We sent emails to family & friends asking for prayers and that if anyone was available on May 12, we would like to show this birthfather, JT, a united front. For those who could, we'd love them to come to court in case he was there.

Our verse on the morning of May 12 was Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” On the way to court my song came on KLove – Voice of Truth, by Casting Crowns. It was comforting to know that God had our back. He knew what was going to happen that day, He knew the giants we were facing and He was promising that He would be there to catch us no matter the outcome.

At any rate, we had no idea how many friends and family would take us up on our request to be at court – we had over 50 adults & kids come! Which, as it turns out, was more helpful than we could have imagined. You can read about that here. Long story short: JT didn’t actually show up, he called the courthouse. He gave the judge a sob story and our trial was extended to May 27.

While every part of this extension was hard, one of the hardest things was how it affected Madison. Naturally we had tried to protect her and shield her from the knowledge of what was going on, but she’s a bright one, that girl. In fact, just that morning she’d asked if “that guy is going to come steal my sister” from us. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t keep it together that morning. When Tuck and I came out of the private courtroom to face Madison and everyone else, I couldn’t speak through the tears. That scared my girl.

For anyone who wants to say that we doubt God when we allow our emotions to get to us, I say that’s hogwash. God teaches us to trust His plan for us and He promises that He won’t give us anything more than we can handle. But He made us human, which means we are fallible. We have emotions and the things of this earth will affect us. Just read the Old Testament. Even the biggest, strongest followers of God experienced major emotions.

Adoption is full of these emotions. My friend, Michelle, who recently adopted their daughter came to me in tears in the midst of their tumultuous adoption ride. She was full of apologies for never really showing me love and patience when we were adopting Madison! She said she had NO idea what a roller-coaster of emotions the adoption journey is. Of course, I just hugged her and said she had no reason to apologize.

To be clear: during our whole trial, I knew in my heart that God was going to come through for Cora – I just didn’t know how. I knew that He could make everything work in our favor, but I didn’t know if He would. I had no idea if that was His plan. This not-knowing had already been causing my very weak intestines to have quite the heyday for 2+ months up to this point. The delay in our court date was just another test for my uproarious stomach.

During the 2 weeks between our trial dates, we had the opportunity to speak to JT, at his request. To say that our hearts were in our throats is an understatement. He basically complained to us that it was unfair that he never had a say in what happened to "his" daughter. He directly contradicted about 99% of what Tiffany had told us; he denied r@ping her. He said he understood that we'd "probably gotten attached" to Cora (!!) but that he wanted to be her father and was going to do whatever he could, including hiring a KS lawyer and coming to court on May 27.

Clearly, however, May 27 went as everyone ELSE had prayed and we got to keep our girl!! We’d flown Tiffany into town so that she could give her testimony in person since JT’s story directly contradicted hers. We had her family (who lives in town) and our family over for a huge Memorial Day BBQ the day before court. It was such a neat, bonding time for all of us. We were able to forget the stress of the next day and truly enjoy each other. And Tiffany hardly let Cora out of her sight for longer than a few minutes at a time!

The morning of May 27, our verse was Psalm 16:5 “LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.”

Oh how we wanted to believe that promise would come true for us that very day! Tuck and I sat in our bathroom and prayed like we’d never prayed before. Not even a minute later, Mr. Kenney called to let us know he’d called JT that morning “just to see where he was.” He was in Texas. He claimed he’d had car trouble at 9pm the night before (thanks for that prayer, Grandma Sandy!) and couldn’t get to town. Mind you, he also admitted to Mr. Kenney that he hadn’t been able to hire a lawyer.

When we heard this we started to celebrate – but Mr. Kenney told us to temper that emotion until we could find out what the judge would decide. There was still the possibility JT would call the courthouse at our hearing time of 3pm. We had no idea if the judge would extend the hearing again.

May 27 was a very. long. day.

We finally got to the courthouse with Tiffany at 2:30. I honestly can’t tell you how many of our friends and family were crammed into the little hallway outside of our courtroom. And more kept arriving! In fact, Tiffany said her heart stopped each time the elevator opened because she kept expecting JT to walk in, even though she knew he couldn’t possibly get to town that quickly.

At exactly 3:00, Mr. Kenney lead Tucker, Tiffany and me into the courtroom. The judge was surprised (and impressed, if you ask me) to see that Tiffany was there… and that JT wasn’t. He told Mr. Kenney that he’d allowed JT all the opportunity in the world to show up and that we could continue with Tiffany’s testimony without him. About 12 minutes later, the judge severed JT’s parental rights based upon neglect and non-support. He then invited us to ask our family & friends to join us for the “best part” of his day, as he said it.

I’m not kidding you when I say it took a full 5 minutes for everyone to squeeze into the courtroom. Each time the door started to close, someone else would run in. The judge was flabbergasted; he said he’d never had such a full gallery. I was a blubbering idiot, by the way – and am even choking up as I type this! (the apple doesn’t fall far, does it Mom?!)

Mr. Kenney questioned first Tuck then me with such questions as “You are fully aware that once we finish today, Cora is as much your daughter as if you’d given birth to her. You understand that you can’t turn around this decision – even when she’s 13 and causing you angst as a teen…” After just a few minutes of this type of questioning, the judge deemed us the rightful parents of our beautiful angel girl.

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending.

The only things holding us together during this time were God’s word (Isaiah 64:4, Mark 11:24, Revelation 7:17, etc), the prayers of our friends, the hundreds of emails and cards, the phone calls and support at both trial dates. If you were one of those people supporting us, I have no way of thanking you besides saying Thank You.

The verse on our calendar 3 days after our family was complete? All I can say is: amen.

Isaiah 25:1 “O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”


April said...

Oh, Daneen, I have tears pouring from my eyes as I read this. I'm so sorry that I couldn't be a part of that wonderful gallery of people surrounding you that day but so deeply grateful they were there.

Addie said...

I cry with each installment of this story ... and the details are not new to me. The tears come because of God's AMAZING faithfulness.

I'm so glad you told this story, complete with every perfect verse he blessed you with during this journey!

Marie said...

Okay, so now you've got me crying, half a world away...REAL GOOD, DANEEN!

I love this wonderful story and I love that you exalt God through all of this, even the parts we'd like to forget. It does make you wonder what He has in store for this wonderful child of YOURS, yes I said YOURS!

She will do mighty things in His name and for His name.

Know that you are loved and missed my friend.

Peace OUT!

Sarah W. said...

So amazing. What a wonderful story. Truly a testimony!