sons

Time Flies

Tempus fugit - Il tempo vola - Time flies

Last night my boys and I were shuffled out of the house to make room for a “make up” party that my wife was hosting. At first it seemed like an annoyance to be forced out of the house on a Thursday evening. It was up to me to figure out what to do with my sons for the hour and a half that they would occupy our house.

We ended up going to a park near a small lake about 2 miles from our home. The boys played on the playground, ran up and down the hills, and played near the water’s edge. As I watched them, I was grateful for the excuse to go out and spend time with them. They are a lot of fun to be with and I realize daily that they are growing fast and I need to make the time to be with them and develop our relationships.

I never thought I would say this, but Thank You crafty, over-priced, makeup sales Lady, for giving me an excuse to spend time with my boys. I may rethink that statement when I see how much the makeup costs.

Our First Adoption

adoption

So I’m that guy who woke up one morning with no idea that in 13 hours, he and his wife would be walking out of a room with their newly adopted son.

We had been “paper pregnant” for almost two years. In adoption vocabulary, that means that we had gone through the home study and approval process with an adoption agency and were waiting for the right situation to come along and to be selected by a birthmother to have a baby placed in our home. The major difference between paper pregnancy and normal pregnancy is that the latter has a definite end date. We were losing hope as the situation dragged on.

We were currently working with a faith-based agency and we decided that our chances might be better if we went forward with a private adoption agency that a friend had used. The private agency was substantially more expensive, but they did not collect fees until the placement was in process, so this didn’t seem like a huge obstacle when we signed up.

It took a few weeks to sign up and be approved by the new agency, but soon we had a second “paper pregnancy.” We were used to the notion that nothing happened quickly in the world of adoption, so we were stunned when we received a call from the private adoption agency a little over two weeks later.

I remember the events of the day so clearly and vividly, even four years later as I am writing this. It was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and we were driving close to home when the adoption worker called me. I pulled into a parking lot to focus on the call. She said, “We have a birthmother with a 3-week-old baby boy. She will be here in about an hour and I would like to know if you would be fine with us showing her your profile.”

“Of course, that would be great,” I said. She told us a little more about the situation and explained the financial obligations associated with it, and the phone call was over.

My wife and I were very excited. We faced other possible adoptions previously, so we were cautious about getting our hopes up for fear of building up to a letdown, but this felt different and exciting.

We went about our day and at 3 o’clock, my phone rang again. It was the adoption worker again. “We showed your profile to the birthmother,” she said, “and she loves you guys. She would like to meet you. How soon can you come in? By the way, if this works out you will need to be able to stay in town for 1 to 2 weeks while you wait for the states to finish up necessary paperwork.”

We live about 3 hours from the adoption agency’s office, so we told them we would be there at 7 o’clock that night. And the whirlwind began. We had 30 to 45 minutes to prepare our 5-year-old daughter and ourselves for a trip that would last at least a week. I went to work and tried to tie up all my loose ends there while my wife frantically packed bags for everyone. She also prepared for the event that we did adopt the baby and would need to care for him through that time period.

We were on the road in 45 minutes. The trip was filled with “what if” conversations. The most common centered around the question “What if this doesn’t work out?” But we also dwelt on the hopes and scenarios that would play out if it did work.

We arrived at the adoption agency’s office just after 7:00 that night. The adoption worker sat down with us and we spoke a little about the situation. She said that the birthmother wanted to wait to meet with us for about an hour so she could have some more time to say goodbye to the baby.

This brought about a whole new round of issues. We had packed and driven 3 hours with the thoughts that we would meet the birth mom that night and hoped that within the next few days we would get the baby. But with this new wrinkle, we were going to receive the baby in an hour. We had not been able to round up all the baby supplies we needed, so we took that hour to go to Target and pick up what we needed to take care of him through the night.

At 8 o’clock, we met the with the adoption worker again. It all seemed surreal as they walked us down the hall to the room where we would meet our baby for the first time. We walked into the room and there they were.

Our son’s birthmother was holding him and rose to meet us as we came in the door. She was a beautiful young woman. We sat down near her, and we began to talk. After a few moments, she asked my wife if she would like to hold the baby. That moment of her placing Max into my wife’s arms is burned into my memory. For the last 3 years I had been by my wife’s side through the tragedy of a miscarriage only to be followed by the hopelessness of infertility. I had tried to console her through the difficult times, but I felt powerless to take that pain from her. As I watched Max being placed into her arms, all that pain went away and I will never forget that moment.

We continued our conversations for another 15 minutes. We talked about the baby and how he had been developing over the last 3 weeks of his new life. We talked about what our communication would look like as we maintained a connection with the birth mother. The connection would be as much for her as it would be for him. The time went so fast, and when the social worker said it was time to go, we were shocked back to the reality of the situation.

My wife handed the baby back to the birthmother. She held him tightly as she stood bouncing him gently. Her heart was breaking as the moment had arrived that she had to say goodbye. She gave him one last hug, kissed him on the forehead and said to him, “Goodbye, little man. I love you.” My heart broke for her as I realized that this amazing experience that we were having was at the same time the most difficult thing she would ever do.

Then she placed the baby into my wife’s arms for the second time. This moment was so emotionally overwhelming. It was an act of pure love by the birthmother to place this beautiful baby into our arms, trusting that we would give him the life she dreamed he would have. For us, it was the end of a journey to grow our family through adoption. It had been a long, difficult time in our lives. That very morning we had woken with no idea that at the end of the day we would be holding our new son.

Words cannot describe how grateful we are to this young birthmother. This experience has continued to fill our lives with joy and happiness, and we will always be thankful. Looking back on it now, I know it couldn’t have been any more perfect. Every trial along our journey had prepared and directed us to the moment when our son was placed in our arms.

Father and Son Outing

So I’m that guy, mostly enjoying every minute of his Son’s first Fathers and Sons camping trip, realizing that his family is a miracle.

Camping

My family has this tradition. In the beginning of the summer, our church has what are called “Father and Sons camp outs”. I have memories of these events from the age of about five years old. In Idaho, the first part of the summer can either be a little hot or very cold and most of my memories involve the very cold.

One year, I think I was about eight years old. I woke up in our tent at midnight with a fever. It was raining outside and very cold. My Dad ended up leaving my brother with a friend and driving me home in the rain. I remember the trip home with the heater on high the whole way. I remember it being a great feeling to be warm again.

I have memories of sitting around the campfires, listening to stories. Whether they were funny or scary, I liked them all. The food was always good, and there were always friends to play with.

I have memories of many motorcycle rides on these outings. Large groups of friends and neighbors exploring the local mountain trails and having a good time.

All in all, some of my favorite memories came from these trips with my Dad and brothers. I have always looked forward to the day when I could bring my own son on a Father and Sons campout. Many years, as my wife and I struggled with infertility, this was one of my perceived losses.

The day finally arrived, last week I was able to take my four year old son on the camping trip. Although, for us it is not really a “camping trip,” we would rather spend the night in a warm hotel room. Remember, all my negative memories of the trips involved the actual camping aspect. There is a hotel near the usual site for the outing, so we opted to enjoy all the parts we like and sleep in a comfortable, warm room.

Four years old is too young to recognize the grandeur that is, “The great outdoors.” Max wasn’t very impressed at first and went into a wailing fit when he accidentally stepped in water and got his shoes wet. I watched as the other boys, who were obviously “farm kids,” ran around in their cowboy boots, wranglers, and snap front western shirts, running circles around my boy. They would fall down and bounce back up ready to do it all again. Then there was my boy, who wearing the Crocs his mom had bought him, was obviously at a disadvantage. Although he loves to run and play, he can be a little sensitive to impacts with the ground and does not tend to react with the same enthusiasm the other boys had when they fell. I was also a little conscious of the fact that I was the only father watching the pack of boys as they ran to and from each point of interest.

After about two hours of running, jumping, fishing, sliding, falling, and playing, my son had had enough. It was an hour past his dinner time and the food would not be ready anytime soon. He was grumpy and tired and not in the mood to wait around for dinner. Once again I decided to forgo tradition. I loaded him and his 8 year old cousin into the truck and drove 5 miles to a roadside pizza restaurant.

It was one of the high points of the trip, as I sat across the table with them eating pizza. We talked and joked around and had a great time. The pizza and soda pops did the trick. After a few minutes everyone was in a better mood and ready to go back to the campsite and finish out the evening.

That night in the hotel room my son could not stop talking, he was so excited to be “camping.” He finally talked himself to sleep and I was able to get some sleep too.

When I woke up in the morning, I had a few minutes to just look at him before he woke up. His face was so perfect and peaceful. I thought about how five years ago I had no hope of ever having a son to take on the Fathers and Sons outing. After dealing with infertility and spending so much time waiting for an adoption opportunity, it seemed hopeless that we would be able to grow our family. But there he was, quietly sleeping next to me. He is truly a miracle.

It was at that moment I came to a conclusion. Even though these outings don’t always turn out the way we think they should, the important part is spending time one on one with these kids. The rest of the day was cold and we went home early, but it was a great experience for my son. It was his first of many memories to come through spending time with his dad. I can’t wait for the next one.