“Are you and Andrew still interested in adopting Payton?” Charise asks again.
“If it comes to that, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.” Charise’s lips spread thin into a wry smile. “Is it?”
“It’s unlikely Ruth and David will get her back.”
“But,” I splutter, “kids go in and out of the foster system for years before they’re removed permanently!” My head is spinning; this conversation makes no sense.
“That’s usually the case with older children,” Charise agrees. “But the court errs on the side of caution with younger children because they can’t tell us what’s going on.
“Ruth stopped services right after she got Payton back and David stopped them a couple months after he got out of prison.” Charise’s cool exterior is melting; her voice drips with disgust and sadness. “They were high whenever I saw them. Ruth said it was the medication she was taking. I told her, ‘I’m not stupid, I’ve been doing this a long time.’ But that’s her style: deny and lie. If that doesn’t work, then she turns on the waterworks. David admits to his mistakes but that’s an act because he doesn’t stop making them.”
I look at the little girl in our tub, just shy of her third birthday. She swims in the warm bubbles and sings softly to herself. What has transpired in her short life, especially in the past month? Will she process it and be able to express it someday, or will it remain locked in the recesses of her mind forever?
“Ruth and David told me today they don’t want Payton placed with anyone but you and Andrew.”
“We’ll adopt her, if it comes to that.” The words leave my lips, betraying Ruth and David.