For Father’s Day, I want to reach out to the three fathers whose three biological sons became my three sons.
Birthfathers rarely play a starring role in infant adoption. More often than not, they’re relegated to signatures on consent forms relinquishing parental rights – if they can even be located.
I’ve had the privilege of being a father since 2002, although my wife Julie and I lost our first few children to miscarriages. Anybody who has experienced that trial – and it’s more common than you might think – walks through a unique type of grief. If you encounter anyone traveling that road, I’d encourage you to be tenderhearted towards them.
To quote the poet John Greenleaf Whittier: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’
I shook hands with my son Riley’s birthfather in the hallway of the hospital on the evening he was born. It was a pleasant exchange, but I was so nervous and my heart was pounding so hard that I can’t recall much of what we talked about. It’s been almost 15 years and we haven’t spoken since that warm Sunday night in Edmund, Okla.
Will and Alex’s birthfathers are both somewhat of a mystery. We know a little about them, but not a whole lot. I’ve learned that every adoption is a unique confluence of circumstances. Time may answer some questions – or not, and that’s OK.
But on this Father’s Day, I am thinking of these three men from Colorado and Nebraska. If I had addresses, here is what I would like to share with the biological fathers of our boys, who are now 14, 9 and 8.
Although I’ve only met one of you, none of you have met one another. Yet, by divine providence, you’re now linked together as each of your respective offspring are brothers, not by blood but by familial bond.
If you happened upon our home, I’m confident you would like what you’d see. They’re physically handsome boys, but they’re even better looking on the inside.
I remember my mother talking all the time about the importance of cultivating a beautiful mind. Fill it with good thoughts, ideas, images and memories, she would say – you have to live with yourself the rest of your life. Don’t you want to be at peace and keep good company?
My mother was invoking the counsel of the man I was named after, the apostle Paul, who once wrote: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
When I put the boys to bed each night, I pray with them that God will protect their minds and draw them away from the poison of the world and instead to the pleasant and what glorifies God.
Riley is whip-smart and a deep thinker. I love his sense of humor and easygoing nature.
Will is compassionate and great fun. His love of Legos hints at a future career in architecture or construction.
Alex likes to take charge. He’ll probably be a general someday. Relationships mean everything to him. He insists on being the last person to wave goodbye and the first to say hello.
If you look carefully, you’d probably see flashes of yourselves in them. There are the physical similarities, of course – smiles, eyes, eyelashes and dimples. Their birthmothers have shared a little bit about you with us, so we know they’ve inherited familiar temperaments and penchants. Is it nature or nurture? Yes.
Selfishly, I used to worry about adoption, because it meant none of my genes would be passed on. But now I look at the boys and I’m glad, because if my DNA were part of them, they’d be different than who they are – and that would be a tragedy.
It would be impossible for me to tell you just how much I love being their dad. It’s better than a dream come true because there are countless little things I never even thought to dream about when fantasizing about fatherhood. It’s the small moments and memories that loom largest in my mind.
It’s early morning conversations in my home office, trips to buy bagels and donuts, bike rides and ball games, learning to ski through tears and camping trips in the rain. I have thousands of photos on my phone chronicling some of the highlights of their childhoods, but no picture can adequately capture the fullness of my heart for the honor of being their dad.
One of my regular prayers is that you’ll all get to meet the boys one of these days and that it will further affirm them – and you.
It’s a bit curious to feel such emotion for someone you don’t know, but when that someone is the biological father of your boys, it all makes sense.
Thank you for supporting their adoption. Too many boyfriends pressure girlfriends to do something they’d regret for the rest of their lives.
None of you were in a position to raise them, so you have allowed Julie and me to assume the role. I don’t know what other decisions you’ve made in your lives, but I doubt any have been as consequential as the ones you made to give your boys a chance to grow up in a home with a mother and a father.
Well done – and Happy Father’s Day.