My wife, Dina, will be the first to tell you she never thought I would get to where I am now…
I would have to agree completely.
Two and a half years ago, Dina made her first of several trips to Robin’s Nest Children’s Home in Jamaica. After her first trip, she began talking about an 8-year-old boy named Dean. The two of them had quickly formed a bond.
On subsequent trips, the relationship between Dina and Dean grew.
After returning from these trips, Dina would talk more and more about Dean. The unspoken subject of adoption was lingering in the air. I wasn’t willing to consider it an option or even a possibility.
I couldn’t get my heart around adoption for two main (and completely selfish) reasons:
- We had two grown children out of the house and a 12-year-old son, Mason, at home. Prior to Mason, we were three years away from being empty nesters… I had already set my sights on the freedoms an empty home would bring and all of the “things” we could do!
- There is so much need in the world – I couldn’t understand how this act of adoption would make even the slightest bit of difference. Would my “sacrifices” accomplish anything more than putting the selfish things I wanted to do on hold?
All of this talk of adoption happened during a time when I began struggling to understand my relevance. What am I here for? How can I feel better about myself? Why are my job struggles bothering me so deeply?
In 2010, while Dina and Dean’s bond continued to grow, my version of the perfect storm hit me – a “two-by-four moment,” or whatever you want to call it.
Mason and I were blessed with the opportunity to participate in the production of Girders, an original creation that tells the story of Judas, one of the disciples who had fallen away from Christ.
One of the big objectives of the production was to try and reach those who had fallen – or were falling – and let them know that God will always welcome them back with open arms.
Little did I know that I would be receiving the message to “reach one” – which, in hindsight, was no accident.
The summer of 2010 was occupied by rehearsals for Girders. Meanwhile, Dina made another trip to Robin’s Nest and began talking increasingly more about Dean and a desire to do something.
Shortly after Girders was presented at Hope in August 2010, our small group started The Dream Giver series. I had taken this class once before with our group but didn’t quite connect. This time was different. I got it. I began to understand that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and leave my land of ordinary.
I’m not exactly sure when this next event happened, but it marked yet another milestone in my story of transformation…
We were in the car, and Dina was going on and on about Dean, as she often did. I felt compelled and said to Mason, “Well, Mason. It looks like you and I are going to have to meet Dean and see what this is all about.”
Dina’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor. This was the beginning of a new journey for me, and for us.
The final event in my perfect storm was Mason. He and I were traveling to visit my mom during one of Dina’s trips to The Nest. Dina called while we were on the road and we talked about various things, including, of course, Dean.
After hanging up the phone, Mason asked if we had been talking about Dean. I told him yes, and then took the opportunity to ask him if he understood what we were thinking about doing (adoption). He said he did, to which I asked, “Are you OK with it?”
He said he was.
I asked, “Is it because you want a little brother?”
“No,” he said. “Not from what I know little brothers can be like!”
I pushed him further. “Why then? Why are you OK with this?”
His answer almost made me pull the truck into the ditch – and I don’t believe I have ever been more proud of him.
“Because I think it is the right thing to do,” he said.
WHAM! A two-by-four moment. If a 12-year-old could get it, why couldn’t I?!
Girders, The Dream Giver, Mason – my perfect storm. I often say now that in my search for relevance, I found revelation!
The process of adoption progressed with Dean, and we were fortunate to be able to get him to America for needed medical treatment.
In the summer of 2011, I had just returned from taking Dina, Mason and Dean to the airport for what we had hoped would be the completion of the adoption process (the trip had come up suddenly and I wasn’t able to join them until the following week).
At worship that weekend when they were away, Pastor Mike talked about transformation. I couldn’t help but feel he was talking to me! I had been transformed – not in an immediate thunderstruck way, but gradually, over a series of events.
I look back on this journey and shake my head. How could I have been so selfish? Why did it take me so long to get here? The question of how I could possibly make a difference seems absolutely ridiculous now.
Now that Dean is in our lives, I see the difference it has made not only for him, but for us, too.
There are so many God stories that occurred during this journey that I would like to one day write a book about it. The stories need to be told. If they can “reach one,” then it is worth it.
Changed, transformed – that’s me.