Originally posted October 13, 2012
Today is one of those days where repeating “God has a plan for this” is about all you can do to have some peace. For those of you who read our latest newsletter, you know that the Ochoa kids (Rosie, Dayana, Jonatan, Arol and Pamela) have been in our temporary custody for the past couple of months following some problems with their mother, Belkis.
Belkis has come to visit the kids a couple of times since removing them from her care and all have been calm visits. A couple of days ago, Belkis visited with Rosie and Dayana and it was not a good visit, so we contacted the social worker to see where we stood in the process of obtaining permanent care of them.
The judge decided to meet with everyone yesterday. When we arrived at her office with the children, Belkis was there waiting. Amber and Belkis met with the judge for a long time to discuss the children and, more specifically, Belkis’s ability to visit them. Despite our willingness to let her come and see her children, Belkis has only contacted us to see them a couple of times. However, because she has only seen them a couple of times, Belkis claimed to the judge that were keeping her children from her. Amber and Belkis talked back and forth to the judge as Amber sought desperately to work out an understanding, while Belkis, reacting out of her desire to be with her children, was unwilling to make compromises.
During the visit with the judge, each child was brought in individually and asked if they would prefer to remain in the care of their mother or in our care. Each child replied that they would like to remain in our care, except for Dayana who, as a six year old struggling to understand, said she would like to be with her mom.
After a long talk, Amber came out of the office and said we would go to lunch and come back. It was obvious that she was holding back tears. As we took the kids to McDonalds, Amber managed to get out that she believed the judge was going to send the kids to IHNFA, the Honduran version of family services. She said that the judge believed that because Belkis could not come to an agreement with Amber about visitation, the kids should be placed in IHNFA until the judge could make a decision regarding permanent care – which supposedly will be within a few weeks.
And so we all went to lunch and held back tears as we watched our kids happily eat their French fries and play on the PlayPlace. We were still not completely sure what the judge’s decision would be, so we didn’t approach the topic with the kids for fear of scaring them.
When we arrived back at the offices after lunch, we took the children to the playroom to wait as Amber went upstairs to hear the judge’s decision. The judge had left, though, and left her decision with an aid. After hours of waiting, a couple of people came down and asked for the children to go upstairs. “Just the children right now, “ they said, so we sent them upstairs.
That was the last we saw of them. A vehicle from IHNFA was waiting upstairs, and they took the children to a children’s home without being given the opportunity to say goodbye to us, Amber or Belkis. Our hearts break thinking about what must have been going through their heads as they entered the vehicle to be taken away. No one had any idea that would happen when they woke up yesterday morning.
Our team crumbled to the ground in tears after we learned that the children had been taken away, without being able to say goodbye to them or offer them an explanation. We hugged each other as we cried and tried to find some semblance of justice and reason in the situation.
The kids will remain in IHNFA until the judge can make a decision about permanent care. We are not supposed to have visitation with them right now, but a lawyer from IHNFA is planning to go there with us on Monday to take them clothing, discuss visitation, and, at the very least, the discuss possibility of the children still attending school. The teachers from Interamerican school are willing to go with us and do whatever they can to make finishing the school year possible.
The children’s home is certainly not anywhere we would want to send the kids (they have been there before after being taken away from their mom), but at least we know they are safe and away from their mother.
Please be in prayer for everyone involved at this time. Please pray for the children as they cope with this sudden and dramatic change – that they be kept safe, be given the courage to not be afraid, and that they know just how much we love them. Please pray for Belkis that she have a change of heart and work to do what she knows deep down is best for her children. And pray for our team during this time of unbelievable brokenness, that we cast our hurts into the arms of the Father and trust that he has a plan for all of this.
We trust that God’s wisdom is greater than our own and that, despite our broken and confused hearts, he is working everything together for good. Please join us in prayer.