Several years ago Cindy was mowing the lawn … uh, I should preface this by saying I don’t usually consent to Cindy’s making use of the mower, because I feel like it’s man work—not the kind of work I like doing, but other men, I suppose. Myself deathly ill that day, I’m sure, Cindy was mowing the lawn and sensed God tell her something. I would contend it was the fumes from the mower, but she was sure God told her we would adopt. Back then our girls were about five and four, respectfully, and I was rather satisfied with the size of our family. It would be a few years before God would lay on my heart what He’d burdened her with that hazy summer day. Whereas Cindy could hear from God while doing menial lawn work at our rental home in Toledo, I needed the grandeur of the Rockies to hear God’s voice on the matter.
Three years ago, I went to Colorado Springs with our church leadership team for a Wild at Heart retreat, where God little by little fractured my stony heart. First, He put His finger on my father wound, which every man has to some degree. Mine ran rather deep. Second, He affirmed my sensitivity as a dad to my girls. Third, He convinced me I could be a father to a boy. And fourth, He told me I would raise a boy to manhood, one who otherwise would not have had a father. One more day and who knows what else I could have discovered in the mountains.
It had taken some time to convince me to expand our family; it would take more time to persuade me regarding a baby, with its constant needs. I’d personally grown accustomed to having children who could bathe themselves reasonably well and make their own breakfast. A couple years ago, we heard from a woman who works for a nonprofit Christian adoption agency; she was looking for prospective adoptive parents for an unborn baby. The mother desired a family of mixed race, since the baby was. (Technically, we’re not biracial; we’re multiethnic, since Cindy and I are both half-white and half-Hispanic. But we thought we were close enough.) Still, I had no wish for a baby, until I sat alone with God one morning on my recliner in the basement. Listening to worship music and journaling, I sensed God direct me to position my arms like I was cradling a baby. Now, understand as a worship leader I am quite comfortable with just about any worship posture, but this was fairly unfamiliar. So I held an imaginary infant, feeling rather awkward, especially as the tears began to form. God told me I would be holding a baby boy, that I would not only raise him to become a man who loves God but that I would change his diapers too.
The mother chose another family, and we were completely content with her decision. For about five months later I would hold another baby, this one* a multiethnic boy whose brown skin matches ours, at least when we’re not hibernating here in Ohio. We’ve known his grandmother for a long time, and she would like for us to care for him, because his mother is unable to. We began a relationship with Children’s Services in May 2008, when we took foster/adoption classes. I lost my job when we were nearly complete with the wearisome approval process, which would have allowed us to receive him in the likely event his mother’s rights were completely terminated. They weren’t satisfied with my financial report showing how our savings would keep us afloat for more than six months, so we had to withdraw our application. But our hope remained strong.
All this time, the little guy has been coming over at least once a week, with daily and overnight visits increasing the past few months. His grandmother now has full custody, and we’re working the private adoption approach, as she’s growing ever convinced he’d fit in our family well. He’s two years old now, and from the first time I held him to now when I help him up the front steps, I look at him with wonder: You’re the one God told me about in Colorado.
Now, I know their intentions weren’t ill-mannered, but when Micah was born some people would say to me, “Oh, you finally got your boy,” as though by having only girls I felt somehow slighted. I’d usually nod politely, but in my heart I would respond, “Micah is an unexpected blessing to be sure, but there is yet another boy we’re waiting for”—his big brother who will make our family complete.
*Sorry, we’re not posting his name at this point since we’re still in the adoption process.