August 7, 2012 by greenhouse04
It finally happened: I encountered a birth parent in public the other day.
I’ve been wondering when this would happen, and I knew it would eventually, since we don’t live in a large community. However, it didn’t happen quite the way I expected – at Walmart or Aldi, catching a glimpse of a familiar face and moving on. No, it didn’t happen quite like that.
Last week we all loaded into the van and headed to our favorite water park for a play date. The park in question is a small area with different structures that spray water and a shallow pool and “stream” the kids can wade in. Its right next to a river that runs through town, with bridge, waterfall, and shady trees. Our play group from church met in the morning, then had lunch together in the picnic area.
Mr. Green left to run some errands, and soon afterward Eddie expressed an urgent need to use the restroom. I led him to the ladies’ room, and in doing so passed an unsavory-looking fellow who was sitting right outside. I tried to ignore him, but he was still there when we came back out. He looked vaguely familiar to me.
A little later two women passed me. One of the women looked very familiar to me – I knew I had seen her before. As I watched her, suddenly it clicked. This was Penny (name changed), Eddie’s birth dad’s wife! She had come to the case plan meetings, and had visits with Eddie before parental rights were terminated. That all was nearly a year ago, so I didn’t expect Eddie to recognize her.
I soon perceived that Penny and her friend were in the wading pool near Eddie, so I nonchalantly made my way over. He joined me in the pool, and I saw the moment surprised recognition sprung into Penny’s eyes. She quickly motioned to her friend to follow her, and they proceeded to walk away and whisper excitedly. Another play group mom overheard their whispering, and told me Penny was saying, “that’s Eddie, I know that’s Eddie! It looks just like Eddie!”
Soon they walked away, and a while later came back with the same unsavory fellow from outside the women’s restroom. Suddenly, I knew why he looked familiar. He was Oscar (name changed), Eddie’s birth dad!
The trio hung around the water park all morning, even being joined briefly by Oscar’s mother, who had also had a few visits with Eddie last year. At times Penny and her friend would walk into the water area, and once even spoke to Eddie. It made for a very strange play date, and I was thankful when my husband returned.
I was thankful for more than that, too. I was so thankful that my first unexpected encounter with a birth parent occurred when I was surrounded by three other ladies from church, all of whom helped me keep a sharp eye on the situation. I was thankful that Eddie spent the entire time sticking close to his best friend, 13-year-old Toni, plus his 5 other friends who were there. I was thankful that he didn’t recognize Oscar, Penny, or his biological grandmother, and he was able to play worry-free. He still has no idea that his birth dad was there that day.
And I’m very thankful that Oscar never tried to approach Eddie, although he did try to unobtrusively take a picture of him with his phone. It was pretty funny – I’d look at him, and he’d hastily point it in another direction. Then, for some time he and the two women walked slowly back and forth next to the area where Eddie was playing, Oscar holding his phone up against his arm.
But most of all, I’m thankful all over again that the Lord spared Eddie from being raised by Oscar and Penny. Oscar was the reason Eddie was initially put in care, and I believe God rescued him from a very difficult childhood.