Thursday, December 27, 2007

reaching up

Reaching up, slowly peeling away the layers of fog that have long surrounded my mind, I find bits and pieces of what I am searching for. Throughout your life there are experiences that can never be re-lived. Moments like these are once in a lifetime, sometimes so rare that few ever can relate. Retelling stories that exist based on a past experience like this are often thought of as lore or myth or even street legend, but for those of us that have these specific moments in our lives we know they are no bit of fiction.

What I am talking about has nothing to do with your first trip to Disney Land, although I’m sure that was great. We are also not talking about your wedding day, although that can come close, but instead think bigger like the day that he/she asked you to marry him/her. You can do your best to put yourself back on that rock just a block away from your parents house when he poured out his heart and said you were the girl for him. You can try and recreate those butterflies and that nervous excitement that welled somewhere deep within. Sometimes the feelings are stronger than others and you can almost feel the wind of the day and cars rushing past.

Times like that are similar to what I’m talking about. It’s times like watching my son being born into this world and being one of the first people to ever hold him. I know God got to be first but I was right there waiting for Him to finish so I could be next. I still remember who was there and the name of the doctor and which hospital we were in. I remember the flushed look on my wife’s face and the tears of joy coming from my sister-in-law. I remember worrying about the amount of oxygen in the room given how many of my wife's family were there.

I have been fortunate in this space of life to have a couple of good times like these. I don’t think there could ever be some level of importance put on any of them but there are certainly ones that I favor over others. There is one however that I am coming more and more to grips with so to speak. It does nearly rival that of my son being born but it is so different when it should be so similar. I am referring to meeting my daughter for the first time.

To my knowledge, adoption has not been prevalent in my family’s history. In fact there hasn’t been a single adoption into our family on my mom’s side that I know of. It’s not to say there has never been one, just not one that I know of.

When I first saw my daughter she had coban holding oxygen tubes to her face. She was about 8 months old and all I knew was this was one messed up little girl. The bits and pieces I had gathered from my mother in law was that she was neglected by her birth mother to some degree, she was malnourished, had several underdeveloped organs (potentially) and could very well spend her life blind and unable to walk. This young life I saw had been born extremely premature, 25 weeks to be exact, weighing 1 pound and 10 ounces. To put that into perspective, you own empty coffee cups that weigh more and are bigger than she was at birth.

As I learned of her short past I was immediately captivated. Here was this beautiful little girl that God had made. There were apparent problems but somehow God gave me eyes to see past them. When I asked my wife about the possibility of adopting this tiny soul there was doubt. This little girl was going to need a lot of help, a lifetime to be sure. There were some reservations of course. We prayed for what seemed like months before taking this to the next level. My wife and I talked all the time anyway and soon the idea of adopting this girl was all we discussed.

The first anxiety was the risk. What if she never walked or talked? What if she had debilitating asthma for the rest of her life due to small lungs? What if she went blind or deaf or both? What if she died of some unknown issue that we could never have predicted? As we pondered all of these and more, what struck me was thinking how these questions were relevant with any child. The only difference was that we were not her biological parents and did not have any family history to pull from.

Besides the health risks which were very real was the stigma. What I mean by that is this…this little girl was (and is) of Hispanic descent. Remembering that adoption was not existing in my family’s history I wondered if my family would welcome such an addition. As I talked more to people who understood this concern I realized it was common among adoptive parents who brought home bi-racial children. Yet through all of this it never occurred to me to question it for myself. For some reason there was never a time that I thought of bringing this little girl home as weird or not right in any way.

I like to think I was looking through God’s eyes there for a little while. God was literally saying to me, “look at this creation I have made, it is beautiful in every way and I want you to care for her”. So while there was no stigma from my perspective and also for my wife, I still had reservations regarding what my folks and siblings might think. I called my mother and asked her to come down and meet this girl. I asked my brothers and sister to pray. I asked my entire family to keep an open mind. It had occurred to me that there would be some rejection and being the typical alpha male I tried to stem the tide prior to tsunami stage.

After all was said and done and we made the public announcement to adopt, mostly we were met with support. There were some immature statements made by a couple of unthoughtful people but overall everyone was really great.

As we plunged forward it never occurred to me to be scared or overly concerned about my daughter’s future. Somehow I had an inner peace that was working overtime. I know now that the Holy Spirit was right there playing the part of coach and He knew exactly which play to call next.

There have been many ups and downs over the past 6 years as one would imagine, but here we are and I can’t even dream of having it any other way. Just last month I watched my daughter ride a horse all by herself. It was a full size, 1000 pound adult horse named Snickers and my daughter rode Snickers without help after only 3 lessons. Not bad for a little girl who some doctors thought wouldn’t see her 2nd birthday.

Yes I am a proud father, but I’m just taking cues from the greatest father of them all, he’s the one calling the plays. It has been an eventful ride thus far but I’m sure the best is yet to come.

my life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.



jolielee said...

wow. i had no idea about your daughter! that is so awesome. i love how God takes something so small and does such great things with it!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, when she becomes the first Latina/Native American/Caucasian/Female President, it'll all make for a great inaugural speech. We have such grand plans ;-)