By Rachel Bussett
I reviewed my memories on Facebook today and a quote from Sitting Bull popped up. It was about “warriors” not being fighters but the protectors of others who often sacrifices themselves for the good of others. It speaks to me today as it did three years ago when a friend tagged me in it. My role in the justice system has always been to fight for the rights of others whether they have been hurt, lost a job, are fighting for their children, or a family is breaking up. Even when we are building a family through adoption we are often fighting because it requires the termination of another parent’s rights and not always voluntarily.
When you have to go through the justice system you really understand how important it is to have that warrior on your side even in the simplest of matters. The last few years I’ve been a party going through divorce, remarriage, a custody battle for my bonus kids and now a contested adoption. Even though I know and understand the process, living it was new. Choosing the warrior to fight for my family was even harder.
The feeling of having no control, especially in our adoption has been overwhelming.
The fear of the outcome not conforming with the law was often paralyzing. When we finally received the decision it was also like a 10,000-pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was in a meeting when I received a text from my lawyer telling me I won, I screamed and immediately broke into tears. I’m not the crying kind but the emotion just poured out of me.
Not all lawyers have those kinds of experiences and not having the experiences doesn’t diminish your ability to represent a client going through them. However, having gone through each of them has helped me grow as a lawyer. It’s one thing to explain to a client that its going to take time because the justice system is slow, or that you have to wait for something bad to happen because the legal system, especially in family law is reactive and not proactive. Its another thing to have to live each day waiting for the judge to make a decision that could change your family or waiting for an ex-partner or ex-partner’s new significant other to do something that could hurt your child before you can act. Each day feels like a month and each week feels like a year.
When it came time for me to select my attorneys for this process, I wanted attorneys who had been through the same process or something similar because I needed someone who could relate to me. Every attorney is different in how they approach the process with their clients but for me finding commonality is important. It is the bond of human experience that holds us together in this world and I think that bond is equally import in an attorney client.