By Adoptive Father Dean
It seems just like yesterday that I met my son, Brett, for the first time in Las Vegas, Nevada. I remember holding him in my arms with his head in my hand. We looked into each other’s eyes for the longest time. I was trying to imagine all he had just been through, having just been born, and he was probably thinking how could the young guy staring down at him possibly be my dad? I’ll be honest with you: I was a mix of emotions … scared, proud, nervous, curious, and amazed. One thing for certain, though. I felt like the luckiest man on the planet because I had been blessed with the opportunity to be a dad to this little boy.
I wrote Brett a poem on the day that my wife and I went to his adoption finalization hearing. He was about 6 month old. I wanted to share my feelings and emotions. My words to him are honest and real and speak of our family’s struggle with infertility and of new beginnings as an adoptive family:
To my son Brett,
I used to look into the sky and wonder where you are.
People told me that a child’s soul made up every star.
Your mommy and I prayed for you each and every night.
We tried so hard in every way to make your star burn bright.
The years went by and it seemed to us that you would never come.
But doctors kept our hopes up by saying, “it just took longer for some.”
Our friends and family were there for us each and every try.
They held our hands and comforted us through each and every cry.
Then one day a light went off that gave us a new scope.
We decided to go down a different road that was simply called New Hope.
And sure enough as time went by we were chosen by another.
This girl would be our giving angel; she was also your birthmother.
Welcome to the family, my little boy, and I want you always to know,
You are the apple of my eye, the light of my life, and I will always love you so.
When you first become a parent, you have been given the greatest gift, and it is all about hopes and dreams. Then reality sets in, and with it come the crying and sleepless nights, the earaches and infections, the falls and the bumps and bruises, the dirty diapers and mountains of laundry, and more dirty diapers.
Walking leads to running, and running leads to chasing. Words lead to talking, and talking leads to talking back! There are thousands of hours spent coaching, watching performances, and traveling to games. You realize you never knew a human being could live on hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza, and sugar, and God forbid if there is anything green or healthy on the dinner plate.
Did you know that you have to go to school again when you have kids? Homework, reports, and science projects all have deadlines that always seem to conflict with the multitude of other planned activities on the calendar, so you have to lend a hand. All of this is before puberty and hormones, growth spurts, and the emotional roller coasters that follow.
For me, the father/son relationship, while frustrating at times, has also been one of the most rewarding and powerful relationships life has to offer. I have boxes of pictures and tapes and discs full of video memories chronicling every birthday, holiday, and significant event along the way. You move mountains to give your children every opportunity in the world, and all you want is the best for them. Kids don’t come with instructions, and I didn’t have a manual with all the parenting answers, but looking at Brett now, 17 years later, I am filled with pride, thinking of the young man he has become.
In the next three months, I will be sending Brett off to college. While part of me is excited for him to move into the next chapter of his life, it will be tremendously difficult to let him go. At the start of his senior year, Brett went on a retreat at school, and I had some time to think about what it would be like when he left home.
My hope is that he has picked up a few things along the way from me that will help him get by when life isn’t going his way. And if Brett ever becomes a father, he will understand how satisfying it feels to have other people tell you what a thoughtful and polite young person your child has grown up to be. These are the things that people tell me about Brett, and it fills my heart with happiness.
So, on this last Father’s Day that my son will be with us at home, I want to thank Brett for helping to define who I am. You mean the world to me, my boy, and I love you with all my heart.
Know that I will always be there and do whatever I can for you. Here’s to you, and the adventure that lies ahead. We have already been through so much together, but I want you to know how much I am looking forward to my relationship with you as an adult.
Don’t worry, though. I will continue to get on your case from time to time, tell you what I think, even if you act like you don’t care, and always have your best interest in mind … that’s what dads do.
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