The Journey's End


I couldn't quite wrap my head around the betrayal. She was my best friend. Scenes from our friendship ran through my head like video played on a loop. Memories of laughter and hugs blurred with recollections of shared tears and tender moments. Nothing made sense. I couldn't, still can't, understand what motivated this woman whom I loved with all my heart to be involved in such an act of betrayal.

A myriad of emotions warred within me. All at once I felt hollowed out with the knowledge of her treachery, confused by her motives, saddened for the sudden end to a long time friendship and yet filled with a burning rage at the injustice of her actions and the devastating consequences those actions had.

I was momentarily rudderless, stunned into inaction as my brain tried to make sense of why someone I loved would do this to me without so much as an explanation. I babysat her children. Regularly.

Boo was equally devastated and incensed. His anger was white hot next to my shock. He wanted blood. He wanted vengeance. He wanted answers. He wanted this entire nightmare to go away and for BamBam to be back in our home with the promise of adoption looming on our horizon.

Together we examined every angle and mulled over what to do. In the end, there wasn't much we could do. Legally, our hands were tied. Morally, would anything we do undo the damage that had already been inflicted? We decided to wait until our emotions settled and we could see past our collective pain and handle the situation rationally and logically. But we were wounded, deeply in a way we never anticipated, never thought possible.

We didn't have much time to dwell on the Dragonlady's nastiness though. We quickly received the phone call informing us the bureaucratic red tape had been cut and the government had finally decided how to handle this complaint. Because BamBam was no longer in our home and the allegation didn't pertain to the safety of our own children, they had been stumped on how to proceed with an investigation. They weren't all that interested in pursuing the costs related to clearing our names simply because BamBam was no longer in any perceived danger now that he was removed from our part time custody.

But we wanted him back and because we could not move forward with any adoption proceedings until an investigation was mounted they finally took pity on us and scheduled our inquiry.

Thoughts of the Dragonlady receded from our minds as we focused on righting the wrong that was done to our family and to little BamBam and we anxiously waited the moment we could clear our names. There wasn't much we could do to prepare for our examination because at this point we didn't know what the allegation was, but I needed to do something.

So I cleaned. Every damn inch of my house. In my mind a passel of white gloved police men were coming to my house and while several of them strip searched and waterboarded our family for answers, others were combing through every nook and cranny of our house looking for signs of parental ineptitude.

Oh look! She doesn't fold the socks...she rolls them. Five points for shoddy laundry skills.

Aha! The canned goods in the pantry aren't organized into food groups and alphabetized. Ten points for laziness.

Oh the horror!! There are dust bunnies behind the television stand. Crumbs under the stove! And looky here, she keeps the dry dog food next to the cereal boxes. That must mean she feeds her children dog food. What a CRAPTASTIC mother! OFF WITH HER HEAD!

The reality was a lot less dramatic. A lone gentleman wearing a Mr. Rogers sweater and a smile knocked on our door as Boo and I were madly straightening up the living room before our appointment with doom. He was a pleasant man, with an easygoing demeanor and he was intent on making the four of us as comfortable as we could be while we faced the firing squad.

After the requisite small talk about the weather and our beloved Edmonton Oilers hockey team, we got down to business. It was decided he would interview all of us separately and individually, starting with our son, Frac.

While Frac met his maker, Boo, Fric and myself went outside and twiddled our thumbs. Fric wasn't nervous; she was more interested in finishing the final chapters of the teen romance novel she was ensconced in. Boo kept trying to make small talk and distract me from chewing my fingers off in nervousness.

All I kept wondering was whether my children would pass this strange man's test or if I would find myself not only without BamBam but also without my biological children by the day's end.

Fifteen minutes or so later, Frac came outside and told Fric it was her turn. Fric turned to her father and me and grinned an evil grin and said, "Last chance Mom. How much is it worth to you for me to keep quiet about all the times you beat us with wet noodles?"

I groaned and Boo laughed and told her we didn't cave to terrorists. My heart was in my throat. I couldn't sit still. As soon as Fric was in the house I turned to her brother and asked Frac what type of questions he had to answer.

"Mom, that's CHEATING. You'll have to wait and find out yourself," he grinned like the son of Satan he is.

Time ticked by and the minutes stretched out. Fifteen minutes went by and then twenty. Then twenty-five. I was starting to worry about how much a lawyer would cost for when I had to go to court to fight for custody of my own children when Fric suddenly opened the door and told us that our investigator wanted to interview her father and myself together.

It was our turn. My heart galloped wildly in my chest and Boo squeezed my hand reassuringly.

"What did he say? What did you tell him?" I whispered to Fric as I went into the house.

"I buried you Mom. You are in so much trouble," she grinned. I could have choked my little cretins. Where they picked up this annoying habit of making light of serious situations at inappropriate times is beyond me.

Boo and I settled in for our turn at the chopping block and our investigator smiled reassuringly.

"You have remarkable children. They are very lovely. And very funny," he smiled. It was all I could do to smile and not choke out a snarky response. I let Boo do most of the talking because at this point I was nowhere in control of my emotions.

As we spoke, the allegation was revealed and we duly responded to his questions. Then, after scribbling something on his official looking note pad he looked up and waited until I made eye contact with him.

"I want you to know Tanis I think you are doing a fabulous job with your children and from everything I've heard here today I'm going to declare this allegation as a false one. Once the paper work is filed, your name will be cleared and you should be able to proceed in any foster or adoption application you choose."

The wind escaped my lungs and tears silently streamed down my face because I'm a big fat over emotional baby. I knew, KNEW I would be cleared and the accusation would be unfounded but the relief I felt to actually hear the words spoken was overwhelming and my emotions escaped from my barely tethered control.

We talked then about any recourse we had available to us (none) and what we could do to undo this false complaint (nothing.) Then we cut to the meat of the matter. What would this mean to bringing BamBam back home.

The gentleman investigator smiled a sad smile and sighed. He was brutally honest with us when he explained that although I was found innocent and the complaint unfounded, the fact of the matter is the complaint still exists on my record. A record that will not be expunged for 99 years or until my death.

It will be up to the discretion of any future social workers that we come into contact with as to whether they choose to want to work with us or not. In other words, it is up to BamBam's social worker and supervisor to decide if they want to return him to our custody or look at new avenues to pursue. It is a completely subjective process.

Hearing that, any elation I was feeling at having my name cleared quickly evaporated like steam from a kettle. BamBam's supervisors were by-the-books bureaucrats. Fear and doubt niggled at my heart.

We thanked our gentleman investigator and then as quickly as he came, he was gone, leaving us alone to deal with the aftermath. Fric and Frac scampered off to resume tearing at one another's limbs like the wild animals they are and Boo and I sat quietly and mulled over what this meant for our future.

One phone call and THREE months of waiting and it was finally over. I was no longer an accused child abandoner, beater, endangerer or what ever you want to call it. It was over. I was once again a mom in good government standing.

But would that be enough to get BamBam back in my arms and allow us to continue our foster to adopt application?

The quick and dirty is, I don't know. Realistically, probably not. It's been two months since my name was cleared (five months since I lost him) and I haven't seen him once. When I contacted his social worker after the allegation was rendered unfounded, his social worker expressed extreme sympathy for our situation and congratulations on having my name cleared but went on to say, "But we can't overlook the fact that an allegation was made in the first place."

Translation: They'd prefer to pursue a family that doesn't have a Dragonlady waiting in the wings making false accusations and stirring up drama where non exists.

It's not a done deal, not yet. The case still hasn't been stamped closed and I'm still jumping on my own caseworker's back (he just looooves when I do that) and still persistently phoning and inquiring as to when I may get BamBam back. He hasn't found a permanent home and until someone else adopts him, I'm not giving up. Even if that means following him from social worker to social worker as he bounces around the system, growing up in foster homes until someone will give him back to us. Even if that means he's 16. He's my BamBam and there will always be a place in our heart and a seat at our table for that little boy with the dimples.

I didn't start off writing about this story with any clear intentions. I just knew that I had promised my readers and more importantly, myself that I would be up front and honest with our quest to bring home a special needs child. I needed to write this pain out to be able to let it go and move on.

There was no design or clearly thought plans as I sat here and plucked the words out of my head and posted them to my blog. I never intended the series to stretch out more than three posts. But once I started to write it became increasingly obvious that more words were needed than I originally thought to spill this story that I have been holding in since August.

There has been no resolution with the Dragonlady, no reckoning. I don't trust myself to see her and not physically harm her. Nor do I trust myself not to break down into tears and present myself as a pathetic cry baby whining through a stream of snotty tears about how she done me wrong. I've chosen to cut her out of my life and my family's life like one does a cancer. The pain still throbs when I think about her or a memory creeps in past my carefully erected walls. I will bear the scars of this betrayal for a long time to come.

I want to tell you I harbor no bitterness or resentment or anger towards her or a system that refuses to return our sweet dimpled boy because of a social worker's single opinion of us. But I do. When I think of what could have been and what will be for my sweet BamBam I am hard pressed to swallow the anger that rears up within me.

I'm still raging on the inside.

But I refuse to allow the negative to overshadow the slivers of positive this experience has brought my family and me. For four months I was the mother to BamBam. Four months this year my children, my husband and myself were happier than we've been since that fateful day we walked out of the hospital without our Bug.

BamBam's love lives on in our hearts and we carry that with us. It was this little guy's love that helped heal some of the painful scars that crisscross like train tracks across my battered heart. And I know the love we poured into that little boy will be carried somewhere inside of him, and helped mold one small part of his personality even if he never has the chance to know it or remember it.

My family grew even tighter through this painful period of time and our bond is even stronger than it was before and I would never have thought that possible. I learned (again) the true meaning of family and what it means to have the support of loved ones when the chips are down and it seems the world is against you.

I lost a friend, a family of friends really, this summer. But through that loss, I found deeper truer friendships. People who supported me and propped me up when I was all but slumped over from the pain of this loss and unable to take even one step forward on my own without them.

I want to thank all of you, every one of you out there who ever had to endure my emails and phone calls and put up with my tears. And to Catherine and Shawn, my love knows no bounds. You both have kept me sane and my husband appreciates it.

Happy endings don't always come neatly wrapped with shiny paper and satin ribbons. But there is a happy ending in this story even if it isn't wrapped in a tiny diaper.

We are back on the adoption list and while I may not be calling BamBam my own anytime soon, there is a child out there who is destined to become the newest permanent member of the Redneck Clan. Life is funny that way.Â

I'm a better person for this journey because I finally learned the answer to the secret I have been searching for since the day I said goodbye to my son in a dark emergency room.

Time doesn't heal all wounds.

Love does.

And there is a lot of love in my life.

Post script: About an hour after I pressed publish on this post the phone rang and it was a social worker calling to see if we were interested in adopting Jumby. Which, obviously, we did. Things didn't work out with BamBam but the entire experience opened us up and eventually brought us to our son. BamBam is still in foster care, waiting to be adopted into a loving family.

*****Thank you all. From the bottom of my heart. My gift to you? Go forth and laugh at me. You have earned the chuckles and it's the least I can do for my peeps.*****