A baby sleeps upon my lap right now…a 12-hour-old, eight-pound little man, swaddled tightly in the hospital’s finest linens. His chest rises and falls in short, erratic repetitions. His arms rise and swat the air. His face tells the story of a magical dream unfolding in his tiny head.
He has no idea of the risk it took for me to be here…nor should he.
“Lots of tears, anger, yelling, counseling, growing, falling, kicking, screaming, and surrendering.”
Presently, he’s not my child. Not yet. Not until adoption paperwork gets signed in another five hours. My wife and I are simply caring for him as his birthmom sleeps on another floor of this same hospital. And so all we do is hold, hug, burp, kiss, snuggle, sing, and cry.
We’ve been here before.
Three years ago, we spent a night in a hospital with a birthmom and her newborn, only to discover the next morning there would be no adoption on that day. She’d decided, perfectly within her rights, to retain custody—making it an arduous drive home with an empty car seat staring at me from the back seat.
It took a long time to get back here again.
Lots of tears, anger, yelling, counseling, growing, falling, kicking, screaming, and surrendering. I didn’t always want to return to this place. Some days I wanted to run away from the pain of that moment altogether. And many nights I tossed—wondering if I’d ever be a dad, and, if not, asking myself who I’d even be then?
But for me, it eventually came down to faith and hope…my antidotes to fear and risk.
“It eventually came down to faith and hope…my antidotes to fear and risk.”
I rediscovered a faith in my God who I now fully believe wants a real, honest, unpolished relationship and lifelong conversation with me. And I realized I’m not defined by being a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a photographer, a writer…or even a father. Rather, my purpose here gets perpetually defined in every moment my life crosses paths with another.
And so, four months ago, I found the courage to step back toward the risk of this moment, fully hoping the door to parenthood would swing open this time.
We’ll see in five hours.
Joe Dudeck owns two Indianapolis-based businesses: Joetography and Keyhole Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at either @Joetography or @KeyholeMktg.