As I listened to the young woman who had seen the effects of her siblings being removed, I heard the pain of family trauma.  Rebuilding broken trust and navigating interpersonal relationships within a divided family is difficult.  Couple that with extended family taking sides, gossip, and shunning, and they have a mess of much more than just playing 52-card pick up!  Next, enter in government red tape, and it feels as if no one is there for help and support.  Imagine now, trying to bear the weight of that for your mom when you are twenty and you stay at home to help babysit.  You don't have the money for college.  You want to get a job, but there is no insurance to help with transportation and you are not sure if your mom will get you there on time.  You are worried about how everything will go at home when you are gone.  Your mom says you eat too much, which is a problem when food is scarce.  This is tough stuff to hear!

             I can't just sit and listen without my mind racing in ten different directions about how I can help.  I always want to fix the problem.  Let's do this, right?  Well, it proved to be more difficult than that.  I set aside a day to help this woman's mom, my friend, go through the hoops to regain insurance.  We only had an infant, 2, and 4 year old between us.  First stop was to get birth certificates.  After waiting an hour for our number to be called, I gave my friend my credit card when her number was finally called and, once again, walked her young active boys up the stairs and down the hallway to keep them out of trouble.  When I came back, she was standing there telling me that the office only takes cash or check.  Ugh!  I forgot about that government rule!  No worries, our next stop was in the same building- the WIC office (it stands for Women of Infants and Children where mothers can go for food).  Well, this too turned out to be a dead end as we realized they were only open once a month at this location.  Instead, I called and made an appointment for a different WIC office on another day.  The kids started to fall apart at this point, so we called it quits and headed back to her house.  What did we accomplish? Nothing.  Well, almost nothing.  At least the paper work was done anyway...

            Fast forward to a couple of days later.  Take 2.  Same three kids.  I picked her up and headed to WIC.  Check in went quickly, and we were soon escorted into a small office.  Once we were settled, I offered to take the kids to the waiting room area to play.  Then, it happened.  My friend came out to speak with me privately.  She had a look of concern across her face as she asked me to vouch for her.  The staff wanted her to prove that she had custody of her kids.  "Could you let them know that I have my rights back?" she asked hopefully.  I nodded and confidently told her I would settle this.  I could feel anger rising in my chest as I walked the few steps to the office.  My friend has had her kids back for almost 2 years!  I had even taken her to WIC after the kids were back in her care.  Why should she have to deal with this stuff again?   How can she give proof when she doesn't have insurance?  "I am going to prove it to them," I told myself, "even though I don't have any "proof" to show them anymore."

                 I walked into the office to see that a supervisor had taken over for the staff person and was occupied searching her records for information on my friend.  Immediately, I let her know I was a foster parent, and that I could indeed vouch for my friend having full custody of her children back.  The supervisor apologized and said it was all a mistake and that she had just found the documentation.  I continued to let her know I could give her phone numbers of people to call, but she just nodded her head and kept on searching her computer screen.  It was very odd.  I could tell she believed me, but it didn't look like she had the information that she said she had.  The rest of the appointment went as usual, and finally, getting the birth certificates after that went without a problem.  However, I couldn't get that interaction between my friend and the staff person/supervisor out of my mind.  Why was it that all I had to do was go in and say I was a foster parent and then everything was ok?  Did I look more believable because of my appearance?  What if my friend had gone alone?  Would she have been turned away?  Maybe!  How would I feel if someone didn't believe me that I was the parent of my own kids?  Oh, I have had many frustrating times when, for about a year after adopting a child, doctors offices and such always asked proof, and the system is so slow, that I had very little to show them but their old names on old insurance cards.  It is VERY frustrating.  Yet, I didn't feel the shame like my friend faces.  Her own flesh and blood kids- she has to prove they are hers.  "It hurt," she told me after our day of accomplishing our goals had ended.  Yes, I agree.  It shouldn't have to be so.

"Love must be sincere. hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor in serving the lord.  be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:9-12


Kirsten Solberg