Today, we attended a meeting to determine a service plan for two of the three boys we presently have in our home. The facilitator, a pleasant, outgoing middle-aged man spoke to the boys’ biological father via speaker-phone as almost a dozen of caseworkers and people involved in their case looked on and learned about life.
The boys have been with us for almost two months now. Biological mom chooses to opt out from the boys’ lives entirely. But amazingly, their biological father was found by their county worker and after having nothing to do with the boys for about eight years or so, would like to become part of their lives once more.
The younger boy barely remembers his father, but is picking up cues on how he “should” be reacting from watching his older brother’s responses and reactions. It is quite an intense period in everybody’s life and something that in my almost ten years of foster care has not yet occurred. Today, was the first meeting for the boys that we were involved with and although dad is not yet involved in a face-to-face meeting due to his schedule and lack of transportation and distance away, he attended via speaker phone at a time when he is usually asleep before he heads off to his late afternoon shift at a fast-food, Italian restaurant.
The meeting ran smoothly with a light-hearted tone from the very start all the way through the entire hour’s gathering. The facilitator was wonderful and managed to keep this extremely serious and significant time in everybody’s life strength-based and filled with optimism. There was no doubt about one thing, however. The boys’ father is still holding onto a lot of anger and bitterness toward their mother and holds her responsible for keeping him from being a part of their lives for these past eight years.
It was in response to the expression of this anger and bitterness that the facilitator implored us all, including the boys, to learn about the true meaning of forgiveness from the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, politician, activist, lawyer, and philanthropist.
We all sat around this conference table while the weather outside crawled from a bitter -4 degrees to 4 above zero, listening to the heart-warming tale of how this anti-apartheid revolutionary was able to turn the hearts of men who personally jailed him and guarded him during his 26 years there into poll bearers at his funeral less than two months ago.
Mandela was able to transcend the feelings he experienced at the hands of the injustice he suffered for more than a quarter of a century of his life and fully develop a loving a caring relationship deep enough to convert his jailors to his poll bearers.
We’re not sure whether the boys’ father is going to get it together and keep it together in a way over the next few months to actually manage to have the county return his boys to his care. We’ve seen stranger things happen and as I mentioned earlier, this is uncharted territory for all of us, but I know that when the meeting ended and we all shoot hands and headed back out into the below zero frost and freeze outside, we all felt much, MUCH warmer, on the inside.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!