Monday, November 5, 2007

Nothing new here

I don't have any new information to present or insights to share but I have been having some new experiences that I need to talk about. It's sort of a long story but I'll try to present the ultra-condensed version here.

I was diagnosed with MS when I was 3o, that's 4 years ago. At that time, I was really optimistic and looking forward to everything. I had a lot of faith that things would work out somehow and that God had a plan for me.

I was diagnosed with Cancer when I was 32, that's 2 years ago. Testicular cancer (like Lance Armstrong but not so advanced.) has a low mortality rate and something like 99.9% of folks who are diagnosed before metastasis as I was are completely cured. I was completely cured. I chose to go through Chemotherapy rather than radiation because some studies indicated that it may be marginally better and that the negative side effects were certainly less. It was rough but probably more on my wife than on me, she was conscious the entire time and had to take care of me (which she did without complaint very well.)

During this time, my wife and I became foster parents. We had one biological daughter when we first got married but had bad luck since then (not for lack of trying, I assure you.) We could either go through the infertility route or the adoption route. After prayerful discussion, we decided that the adoption route was best for us and chose foster care as the mechanism to bring that about. For those of you who don't know, foster care is full of children with heart-breaking stories. One little boy we took in watched as his mother was taken by police and cuffed for dealing drugs. He cried for hours wanting his mommy back and being worried that she would be "cut" in jail. He was 6 years old. We really tried to do our best both in helping other children and completing our own goals of increasing our family size. We adopted 3 boys (siblings) who are more than wonderful.

The foster care system is administered in California at the county level. There are LOTS of problems with it. Nearly every other week, we got new social workers or administrators because they were undergoing yet another reorganization or else they were revamping some program or other. Most of the people that we dealt with were incompetent or their hands were tied and they couldn't do their job because of some policy or regulation that was in place. The kids were the only redeeming quality of the entire system and that's why we stayed and put up with the other junk.

In February we had 4 little girls in our home from foster care. This was a lot to us but we had prayed about each placement and felt it was the right thing to do. One had been in our home for about a year and a half and we were very close to adoption for her. The parental rights were terminated and if our social worker had not just gotten married, we would have adopted her already. The other 3 girls were siblings with the youngest being a brand new baby. They were also proceeding along the adoption track. It was an amazing time for us. We had our hands full taking care of them but it was so rewarding.

Tragically while I was on a business trip to Washington D.C. the baby died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - for which there is no known cure or prevention). It was shocking in the extreme. I flew home on the next flight. My mother in law and my mother both flew out as soon as they could. It was an amazingly difficult time. While talking to the kids about what had happened and where the baby was now, etc. I felt that things would be ok, that somehow this was part of God's plan for us. It wasn't over though.

The next day the county (which had been involved all this time) came and took the other 3 girls away from us, telling us that it was a temporary measure they always did when this type of thing occurred. In my life it is customary for a family to pull together and find strength with one another as difficult things happen. Having the girls removed made it harder for us. After they had been gone a week, I was finally able to get through to the social worker responsible for one of the girls. She curtly told me that the child was no longer under our care and that she would be adopted by another family and then hung up! I called back 3 times to receive tiny tidbits of information before she hung up on me again and again. We were overwhelmed to say the least.

It turns out that the county had determined that since the child had died in our care, they couldn't allow any other children to ever be placed in our home. They were seeking a revocation of our license. They had also published our names on the national child abuse index as being guilty of "severe medical neglect" so that not only could we not be foster parents but we could also never adopt again or even help out in our children's school classrooms.

We prayed a lot to try to understand what we should do. We ended up going to court to contest the removal of what we considered our children. I had strong feelings that things would turn out right and that the girls would return. I put my whole soul into doing what I felt was the right thing for me to do. In the end, after the longest court action this judge has apparently ever had, she ruled against us and for the county. This was devastating. A couple of weeks later, the child who we should have adopted had our social worker not been getting married, was adopted by another family. All of our rights with regard to the other two girls were terminated as well.

I write this not for sympathy or even hoping that some avenging angel will read it and stick it to the county folks, but to try to illustrate why I feel the way I do. Since this time, I've had a really hard time understanding the situation. I felt that God was telling us that we would get the girls back and now I can see that they can't possibly come back. I feel that the compass that I had to direct my way, my assurance that things would turn out in the end is gone. If the message from God had been, "The girls won't return, this is part of the plan." I would have accepted it but I feel that I received the opposite message and then as I followed it with all my faith, discovered that I had just stepped into empty air.

I don't have any faith in the future at this point. I don't know what will happen or have any faith that it will turn out for my good. I have felt feelings that I associated with God's communication to me throughout my life. I have to reexamine those feelings now I feel. I feel aimless, like it doesn't matter. My love of life has run dry it seems. There are things that I should do around the house (fix this light, install a phone jack in this room, help my wife with this or that) but I'm just completely without interest.

Has anyone had an experience that just knocked the air out of them like this one and if so, what do you do? If you read this far, you are a real trooper, thanks for listening.

3 comments:

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LISA EMRICH said...

Hi Troy,

I've decided to start a Blog Carnival specifically for those with MS or those who discuss MS. You are invited to participate. Information is available at http://brassandivory.blogspot.com/2007/12/announcing-new-carnival-of-ms-bloggers.html

thanks,
Lisa

P.S. I hope all is well with you.