I arrive around 10
for the 10:30 docket time.
The boys do not arrive until 10:28.
The walk across the courtroom with their sister.
I have not seen them for two weeks.
They do not make eye contact.
They look thin and I wonder
what they have been eating.
Both boys need haircuts.
The judge calls our case numbers.
There are three.
One for each of the boys.
One for their sister.
I sit on one side of the podium.
The boys sit on the other.
The judge tells me that I can decide
whether they should come home.
Now. Or in 30 days. Or sixty. Or 90.
Or six months or a year.
I want them to come home right now.
I want to feed them.
I want to send them for hair cuts.
I want to hold them
in my arms and comfort away
all the hurt of the past few weeks.
Instead I draw a deep breath.
Wipe away a tear.
I still have not heard apologies.
I know, despite what they say
that they are still smoking.
Pretty much every day.
Neither has a full time job.
I feel like I need to say something.
"When I adopted you in 2003
I say, "It was forever.
And it is still forever.
But I am not willing to live with addicts."
And so I say, "90 days."
"I was living with her before.
And now we are basically homeless."
I wonder what is happening with his father.
Later I hear rumors that Isaiah
is living with an older brother.
The judge does not blink.
"Ninety days," she says firmly.
Isaiah says nothing.
Accepts his fate.
The boys' sister does not want to see me again. Ever.
She just wants to stay in touch with her brothers.
And that is fine with me.
I sit alone as the clerk finishes copying the paperwork.
The boys are across the courtroom.
Then I head to the car.
When I get back to school
I call the boys.
I am not supposed
to have any contact
but I cannot stand it.
I need to tell them
I love them.
Sometimes love is way too hard.