Every Sunday morning I leave our home at 7:15 and drive 20 minutes to pick him up.
A short drive away from our from door, a world away from the culture my boys know.
He waits on the front steps, he and his sister. No one else is awake.
And they shrill. Because for seven days, they've marked off the numbers on their wall, counting down to church day.
For two hours, he cradles his head in the crook of my shoulder. And, he rests.
Sometimes he sleeps; sometimes we play tic-tac-toe during the sermon; sometimes he writes me letters that say God is a nice man, and Can I pretend you're my mommy, just for today?
The boy is not an orphan by the system's standards. He's just forgotten.
What does that mean?
It means he's been in six schools in four years.
It means he's lived in four different states over that time.
It means he's been bounced from a cousin, to an aunt and uncle, to a set of grandparents. Each more upper middle class than the one before. Each took him to church.
For three years he played sports, dressed smooth, lived a life much like my boys.
And each time when he finally settled and finally let his guard down, his "family" discovered the state would not permit a subsidy, and he was bumped again.
And when I asked if he would ever want to go to church. He said, I know church. It's the place they all went.
But coming back to Alabama gave him hope. Because a man that goes by the name of Father lives here. And this man had another that went by the name of Father, as did he...and the cycle circles like a battered wheel.
And when the judge asked where he wanted to live, he answered, I just wanna live with my dad.
Well, that just can't be, Son.
I'm not your son. I'm my Father's son.
And so he lands in the family that will take him. And it makes you catch your breath.
And, he lives for the moments when the man called Father decides to pop in and out, because he learned to be a father from his father.
Today, I took them their food delivery, and as he helped unload the car, Boy said, Catie, can I tell you a story?
He came by this week, Catie. I was so excited. But Catie, he told me there's just not room anymore for me. No time for me.
He dug his big toe in the ground, deep between the dog mess and red mud.
I took my hand and lifted his head.
Catie, is it me? Is it my fault none of them want me?
And I wrapped my arms around him and said, I want you. Jamie wants you. Your grandma wants you. But more than anything, Jesus wants you.
He looked at me, a long time, and then turned and walked into the half-hanging doorway of his house.
I climbed in the car and made it three door down before I pulled over.
My head fell forward, and I wailed.
I shook my fist at God and stomped my foot at hell for the Boy who thinks he's forgotten.
Then, I drove back to my world, as he was left with the quiet haunts of who he belongs to, deep inside his soul.
Because of the One who does not turn away when I shake my fist,