Ginny is our sweet second-born. She loves a good joke, has never met a stranger, and genuinely enjoys serving people. She is also under 18, and even though she was not abused by Asher, she cannot have visitation privileges without special consideration.

Ginny and Asher met for the second time a couple of months ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I braced myself for a whole spectrum of emotions, but I was still overwhelmed.

We regularly visit our son. Our state only has two juvenile detention facilities and as providence would have it, Asher is housed in the one only 30 minutes away from our home. This can be a double-edged knife at times. Being so close affords us the opportunity to stay connected and will hopefully help make the transition to reintegration smooth. On the other hand, it is easy to become resentful of Asher’s selfishness and continued ignorance to the pain and difficulty he brings to our lives. Seeing him week after week while he remains blissfully ignorant of the very real consequences his choices mad(k)e in our home grates on the nerves. The drive back from a visit with Asher will often find me and Joseph shaking our heads in dismay as we again recite all the ways we know God to be good in the face of disheartening evidence.

But our visits follow a well-worn routine at this point, and they never include Asher’s siblings. Savannah was not interested in seeing Asher until immediately before she left for Africa. And for obvious reasons, Asher may not see his younger siblings. Even Hope is barred because of questionable behaviors that may have been grooming while Asher was still in our home.

Ginny, however, always wants to see him.

We struggled with the bureaucracy that mandates special condition visits for eight months before finally obtaining the green light. When we were ultimately given the pass, it was the day before Asher’s 15th birthday and the day after Savannah returned home from Africa. The disappointment of those two events occurring with their brother still in JCF was hard to hide for both girls.

Savannah remained quiet, introspective, and even hard. She is angry with Asher and I don’t believe she has addressed those emotions in entirely healthy ways. I don’t blame her for being upset. And I know how hard the journey is to process difficult emotions. But at this point, that journey is between her and Christ.

Ginny, on the other hand, was warm and engaged. She wanted to know all about Asher’s days and the things that make him tick. She openly shared about herself and even checked her brother when he became self-absorbed. “Um, I’m not done talking, yet. You just interrupted me.” It was refreshing to see them interact with a version of normalcy.

I can barely believe that someday they may have these same conversations without a guard sitting 3 feet away from them.