"Yes, that's exactly the way it feels."
"I'm sorry, honey. She'll be okay. Do you want to come over in the afternoon?"
I met Melody's parents before today. Twice. The first time they were two hours late to their visit with her. The second time they barely looked up from their phones when I brought her into the room. They don't look anything like me. And I don't mean their skin color. Dad has multiple facial piercings and Mom has arms full of tattoos. And no ring. But they made the decision to take her home after almost two months in my care. So today I brought her back to the agency so they could have her. So they could take her from me.
I walked into the room wondering how much sadder I would be after the "return." How much more will I doubt their ability to parent? Will they be dressed nicely today? Will they pay attention to her?
Am I being racist?
Maybe "just" judgmental.
Melody's beautiful. She smiles and she coos. And I wonder what will happen if she has to "do without" or if she's ignored. Will she stop sounding so happy? Stop looking so pleasant?
Her parents are on time. They seemed happy to see me--to see us. But, God, was I skeptical.
We walked into the room. I've been in that room before. I placed Jibraan into the arms of his biological father in that room--a man who didn't know he had a son until Jibraan was six weeks old. I introduced April to her moms in that room and listened as her forever mother, Rachel, presented April's birth mom with a book of poetry. My eyes filled with tears in that room as Jonathan's father promised his birth mother they would love him and take care of them.
Melody's parents sat down and I leaned over to hand her to one of them. Her father took her from me and, in that moment, there may as well have been no one else in that room. He tucked Melody into the crook of his arm, began to whisper, and she began to coo. She was home.
Can you live on love? I'm not so sure. But at least she would have that. She will definitely have that.
"Do you have any questions for Ann?" asked the social worker.
Melody's parents looked at each other.
"Just...thank you for taking care of her. Thank you...don't start crying now...Okay?"
Okay. She'll be okay.