I felt joy that the girls we loved so much would become ours.
I felt guilt for feeling any joy about something so tragic.
I felt sorrow for the pain Brittany was experiencing in losing her girls.
I felt peace that this decision was not ours.
I felt regret that we had not been able to help Brittany keep her girls.
I felt jealousy that I would not be the only Mama in the girls' life.
I felt happiness that we could continue contact with Brittany.
I felt confused because none of this was easy for anyone involved.
In the weeks and months that followed, we visited with Brittany. Two strangers in love with the same kids can make for awkward conversations. Then again, two strangers in love with the same kids can bring two strangers close together. Brittany's life is not stellar. She has many issues to deal with and clean up. But being able to continue being a part of her girls' lives offers her the hope she needs to keep striving for a better life.
Before leaving for Georgia, we had a last meeting with Brittany. As expected, it was emotional. (Not for the girls, mind you. They seem to have adapted to all of this rather well.) It was hard for Brittany and me. When she called me afterwards, I offered to let her talk to the girls again, but she declined. "Sometimes, I just don't want to talk to them or see them anymore," she said. "It just makes me sad to keep being reminded of how much I messed up my life." I gripped the phone as a new feeling crept into the salad bowl of emotions I kept in my heart - panic. She wasn't going to leave them, was she?
I understood very well how she felt. My mother had been a foster-child and I knew a lot about the feelings of guilt and remorse that surround the loss of a child to the foster care system. But I didn't want Brittany to quit on the girls either. They regarded her as a regular part of their lives. She was making progress in many different areas of her life. She was trying hard to get on the right track. For their sake ... for her sake ... I didn't want to see her step out of their lives.
"Don't leave them," I nearly pleaded into the phone, "They need you!" God had brought me to the point where I knew I would never be their only mother. They would always have two. Although, I had struggled to come to that decision, I had never once regretted it. And now I feared I was losing her. I needed her to still see the importance of her role in their lives. We talked for a little while longer about it. "Maybe," Brittany hesitated, then continued, "Maybe you can keep encouraging me, even while you're in Georgia?" "Absolutely!!!" I promised.
After I hung up the phone, I sat thinking for a long while. Adoption is horrible. No! Adoption is beautiful. The sin that causes a need for adoption is horrible. But God can still take something that is so heart-wrenchingly painful and transform it into something of exquisite beauty. That's my prayer for Brittany. That's my prayer for all of us.