The smell is so familiar. The sweat and stench of un-bathed human bodies.
Part of me was at home...
another part of me wanting to run.
There is hardly room to walk in the corridors. Stacks of files. Chairs. Desks. And Guards.
All jails here are overflowing. This one obviously no different.
The walls were painted pink but so filthy that they seemed grey. And it was so hot.
The inmates all dressed in yellow were bored, talking too loudly, banging what they had to bang, rattling the gates to their cells.
Unusual treatment... to be ushered to the warden's office.
Chit chat about the weather, waiting.
Waiting for the mother I needed to interview.
And she came in. Angry and hard. As expected.
And I asked questions. Gently but firmly. Letting her know this was serious.
And she answered.
And without much adieu, with tears in her eyes, she held the pen awkwardly, poised.
And I held my breath for a moment.
But she signed. In faith that my promise of caring for and loving her child was true.
The document terminating her rights as mother over her child that she hadn't seen
in over 10 years.
And my mother's heart
ached for her.
And for just a moment we were not social worker to inmate but mother to mother. Looking at each other. Grieving, so many things all at the same time.
As I left the confines of that prison, the burden of reality weighed heavy on my shoulders.
And I thought of her son, that is in my care. Of what he needs to know. Of the things he should know. The things he never knew. Things that he thought had happened.
And I pray for strength to love this boy, as a mother should, tenderly and to prepare him as best I can, so that one day... when his adoptive mother comes to pick him up, I can too, surrender him to her, in trust and faith, that she will love him beyond measure and understand that sacrifice made so that he could be her son.