Both of our birth parents spent time in jail during her pregnancy. Her stint was the result of some really bad decisions that cost her a fairly good job, and resulted in fraud charges. She was in jail for about five weeks. While she was there, her on-again/off-again boyfriend (and our baby’s birth father) hooked up with her sister, and her sister (we think) stole all of her clothes. It seems her sister had access to her (temporary) home while she was incarcerated, and took full advantage of it. I mentioned at the beginning of this #AtoZChallenge that dysfunction is very common in birth parent situations, and that often extends to their families as well.
If my memory serves, I believe our birth father was incarcerated twice during the pregnancy. When we met her, he was not in the picture, and I seem to recall that is because he was in jail (they had also – temporarily – broken up). About half way through, he was back in the picture again, and wanted to meet us and be involved from that point forward. He signed all the pertinent paperwork, and our social workers arranged a meeting with a counselor that included our birth parents, her mom and sister (the one who stole her clothes, and who was also pregnant), and his mom (who ultimately did not show up). The meeting went well. Questions were answered, fears were put to rest on both sides, and though it was stressful, it was very productive. I did eventually meet his mom, and several more of her relatives, the most stable of whom was her grandmother.
What continually surprised me over the months was how much her family remained involved, despite the fact that it was a constant whirlwind of drama & dysfunction. Once they met us, they were supportive of her decision and never (as far as I know) sought to change her mind. I am grateful to them for that, because they certainly created enough drama otherwise.
The birth father said several times throughout his (temporary) involvement that he wanted to be present at our son’s birth. Ironic, but not totally unexpected, that when the time came, he was in jail again. This time for drug possession with intent to distribute, though he claimed repeatedly that he had no use for drugs. Of course they had broken up (again), only to get back together after she gave birth, only to break up again. It’s a bad, and painful, pattern for her.
A sad detail that I believe (but do not know for certain) was connected to our birth father’s eventual drug incarceration: our son was born exposed to methamphetamine. I touched on this previously, but not on this angle. Our birth mom stayed clean for so long, and then when stress (and bad influences) overwhelmed her, she did what she knew would relieve it. I doubt it flitted across her mind that it would create more stress than it relieved. It did, but for those terrible moments, she was able to be numb.
Jail is not uncommon, especially when stupid decision and drug habits are involved. It is sad, but sometimes a relief as well, because at least (for the duration of the jail time), they aren’t using, and birth mom is getting regular prenatal care. In our case, our birth mom was diligent about going to the doctor, so the only impact jail had on that was that she could not see her regular doctor. I know that we had a better situation than many, and that God was a constant factor in protecting our baby. I am continually grateful for that, because I know how different (and how much worse) it could have been.