Your Dad's Story
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Dear little one: It feels surreal to sit down and write you your first letter. I've done this with both your sissies before I met them too, but this feels different. It is different. There are so many unknowns, so many things I know I'm not prepared for, and that can be scary. With that being said, the emotion that overtakes anything these days is pure joy and excitement to someday meet you and hold you for the first time. That's my driving force to get through the challenges we are about to embark on.
Here's a little background on what brought me to this point.
When your momma and I started dating 15 years ago, I remember having conversations where your momma told me her desire to one day adopt. I remember being inspired by that, and thinking how special that would be. Relationships are funny sometimes because what starts as one person's thoughts, beliefs, interests and passions can soon be adopted by the other person as they start doing life together. This was true with us, but with something as big as adoption, I wanted to be intentional about finding that calling as well. It's hard to explain. I didn't simply want to adopt because your mom had it on her heart. That somehow felt insincere to me. I wanted to own it as my calling as well.
3 years go by, it's 2008.
Your momma and I had just gotten married a few days earlier in front of all our friends and family in Holland, MI. It was a beautiful wedding, Hawaiian-themed. And now we were sitting at a pool at our resort on our honeymoon in Hilton Head, SC. A cute little girl ran past us giggling and her mom said "Jalen, come back here!" Your momma and I both paused, looked at each other and smiled. We started talking about what our future children would look like, how they would act, what would it be like to be a parent. I remember in that moment my mind wandering to adoption. It felt right, but the timing wasn't. My heart was starting to embrace it.
A couple years later, 2010.
Your momma and I took a trip to Jamaica. You can read about that [here]. This was a life-changing trip for me. It was during this trip we visited an orphanage. There was one particular little baby girl I picked up and couldn't put down. We locked eyes. It was painful to me to think about how this little girl had no parents to love her, hold her, kiss her. But it was also heartwarming to see the beautiful care she was being given by the ladies at the orphanage. I just couldn't set her down. When I finally did, I found myself feeling really sad. I wanted to help. I wanted to rescue that little girl. I knew she had tremendous care at the orphanage, but every child deserves to have parents who love them. I wanted to be that for her but I couldn't. It was a helpless feeling.
That was the moment it became my dream. Not just your mommas. It became a dream for both of us. From that point on, we knew we would adopt. But we still weren't sure when.
Fast forward to this year, 2020.
2020-- you'll read about it in the history books. It's been a wild one. It's an election year and there's a lot of controversy. A lot of people fighting. There's a worldwide pandemic. Many people getting sick and a lot of people dying. There's racial tension. Police brutality. But somewhere in all the chaos, your mom and I heard a small voice. I believe it was God's voice.
It was a normal weekday summer night and your momma and I decided to go to the beach on a date. We were sitting in the sand eating our takeout and watching people. It'd been 10 years, two kids, several moves, and a lot of life experience since that life-changing moment in Jamaica. We were sitting there in silence when, out of the blue, I looked at your momma and said, "what about now?" She looked at me. "What if we adopt now?" I said. Tears welled up in her eyes and she said: "I haven't told you this, but over the last week I've been having dreams at night, and there is a third child. We have 3 kids in my dreams."
I had goosebumps.
Those feelings I had that day in Jamaica never left and yet I've pushed them away over the years. Watching the pain and hurt in the world this year brought me back to the pain and hurt I felt looking into the eyes of that beautiful little girl at the orphanage. I remembered the thoughts I had then. I remember feeling like I wanted to do everything in my power to help that little girl and I couldn't. Now we can. Now we will. The world is a mess this year, but there's beauty to be found in chaos. There's light to be found in darkness. There's hope to be found in the midst of fear. This journey we are about to go on will be our most challenging one to date, but I know you're at the end of it. And even though I don't know you, I can't wait to meet you, love you, spoil you, and welcome you into our family.