Monday, April 26, 2010
April 25, 2010
I am really not sure where to begin but realized that in order to sort out the emotions of my heart I should be writing. It’s been a joyous last 24 hours. Sadly the joy comes out of several years ago when pain and confusion surrounded my heart, my soul and my mind.
A few months back David and I decided we would sit Ethan down and begin to share with him his early beginnings. We sat in the living room and told Ethan that he had two dads. David did a really good job unfolding Ethan’s story and I watched with tears as my little boy began to demonstrate infantile body language. He pulled his knees to his chest, he started to frantically twist his fingers through his hair. He started to cry and say he did not want to hear anymore. I felt we needed to share a little more and allow him to experience all these emotions in the safety of our home and our arms. Like a little boy he crawled into David’s lap and allowed David to hold him, comfort him, and speak quietly that we are his family and we love him and no one would ever take him from us.
As the weeks unfolded from this one conversation I made attempts to revisit with simple questions like…”Ethan if you have any questions about our talk with Papa, you can ask”, to which Ethan would simply say “I don’t want to talk about it." I have prayed for years on what would be the best way to handle this situation. David and I were not a fan of waiting until it was “discovered” or “sitting him down at the ripe age of?” We believed that Ethan would have emotions and questions that would best be sorted out at home, while he is still young and values our opinions. And he does.
A couple of weeks ago, while driving to school, out of the blue Ethan asks if his dad (David has always been referred to as Papa) has any sons or daughters. I told him that Rick has a son named Matt. I asked if he remembered meeting Megan a couple of year’s back, that she is his sister. He asked if Matt like airplanes like Elliot and himself. I said that since Matt is your brother I am sure he does. He asked if Rick has a job? What does he do? On his own terms and time the questions came out over many trips in the car.
One day I said, Ethan you are very special to have two dads. This is not how God planned it, but for now it is special to know. Emerson chimed in and said it was not fair and that he and Eric should have two dads. And together Eric and Emerson whined over not being special. I tried to explain that we all have our Heavenly Father so everyone pretty much starts out with two dads. A four and six year old accepted that answered and happily we continued our drive to school.
I told Ethan that it is good to ask so many questions. I told him that one day Rick might want to know him, and to have these answers helps him to be ready for that. And then the question I have prayed for years over was asked. Why does Rick not want to be my dad? Years and prayer prepared me for this question. I was not caught off guard. I never wanted Ethan to think that he was not wanted, but that two people were not honoring God with our behavior and our actions. This was to be a teaching moment into a young heart. I told Ethan that Rick and I were not obeying what the Bible says about marriage and children. I told Ethan that together Rick and I made God’s heart very sad. God does not want adults making babies together unless they are married. I told him that Rick and I were not married and it broke God’s heart. I told him that the Bible says that children are a blessing always even if the adults mess up and we messed up which is why things did not turn out the way God would have wanted it. I told Ethan that mommy and Rick wanted Ethan to live in a home where there was a mommy and daddy together under one roof loving and honoring God. Papa adopted him so that he could have that. Rick loves you and wanted what would be best for you.
I was amazed by Ethan’s next question. “Mommy did you ask God to forgive you?” I told him I did and Ethan said “then I forgive you too”. I am not going to question the heart of a seven year old, but with my sunglasses covering my eyes I cried. What a tender place to be in.
And then, days later, out of the blue a phone call. I was watching TV one evening. Emily was doing the dishes, the boys all in bed and David working out. Emily says “it says Richard *******”. She handed me the phone and it was him, Ethan’s biological dad. Had God orchestrated the timing of everything up to this point? I listened to Rick begin to unfold his interests in knowing Ethan. He had many questions. David came in from working out and I signaled him over to me. I was listening to Rick speak. He said that he did not want to cause any problems between David and Me. I said “Rick, David knows I have a past, and we have talked about your involvement with Ethan for years.” David’s face sparked when he heard my end of the conversation and he stayed during the conversation and listened to my end of it.
Rick had many questions about Ethan’s early beginnings, his hearing progress, David’s care of him, and so on. He expressed an interest in knowing Ethan. I told him that David understand that Ethan is your son. He knows you are a decent person and our hope has been that you would come to him sooner than later. I shared with Rick how God had moved both David and I to share in the past months of him (Rick) and how Ethan’s heart is ready to know you. I told Rick there would be one condition of this entire process and that he needed to pray and think about it before any plans are made. The only condition is that if you come into Ethan’s life, there is no exit door. He said he would think about it and call us.
Yesterday Rick called. He was ready. He wanted to take things slow allowing him time to process this whole thing. We invited him to our house. He came. He sat with David and I. We discussed how awkward this must be, but also how excited we were to begin this journey. Rick wept many times during the evening, often holding back his emotions as his eyes filled with tears. I cut loose a few times with my emotions as I began to realize the enormity of this process even for my own heart. Watching David kindly embrace Rick was powerful to the testament of the character of both men. David acknowledged Rick, his process, and his emotions. David assured Rick that we intended to have this be a positive experience for Ethan and David acknowledged Rick as Ethan’s dad too.
Ethan slowly came around the corners to watch and to listen. Staying a safe distance, but close enough to hear. Ethan then came in closer. In no time at all Ethan was asking questions about airplanes, about Matt and his involvement with planes. Rick could speak the same airplane language and took an interest in Ethan. Rick was in our home until just before midnight. He never looked for the door, he never looked like he wanted to run. He sat, he watched, he listened, and as I type this I am prayerfully thanking God for this first visit.
David and I got into bed last night and shared both our hearts on the matter. What will healthy boundaries look like? How comfortable we will be to allow Ethan time away from home with Rick? Rick wanted to look at Ethan's pictures and I gave him a handful. He said he would be going to visit his dad to show all the pictures of this boy. He said that Ethan looks just like his nephew. David and I both agree that Rick is a kind-hearted person. I have always known that but I was in a bad place in my life 8 years ago.
Ethan wanted to talk with Elliot today. I listened as Ethan said “Elliot my dad’s son Matt loves airplanes too and is learning to fly fighter planes.” It was not lost on Elliot or me that he referenced Rick as “my dad”. I told David this and asked how he felt about that and he smiled and said it’s fine Elizabeth, Rick is his dad, but I will always be his Papa.
Rick said he would email Ethan pictures of the planes Matt has been around and sure enough in the email box were three pictures. Ethan had me print them off and proudly put them in a book. Rick has already shown himself to follow through on the words given to a young boy.
I am an emotional basket case on this entire process. I have not visited the hurts from that part of my life. I would think after all these years there are none and life just moved on. My reality is that there was much unresolved with Rick. I asked him for a phone conversation to discuss some of that unresolved. We share a child, and we will share friendship. I want it to be a friendship without underlying guilt or unresolved. David understands this and understands my process and my emotions. I just need a good cry about the entire thing. I truly believe the decisions early on were the best for Ethan. Now after seeing Rick and what a kind person he is I wonder if the right decision was made. David said you can’t go backwards, and I know this. So praying I can resolve the hurts of the past so Ethan has not one, but three parents who embrace and esteem him.
Watching Rick with Ethan last night made me smile. I asked Rick’s permission to take pictures of the two of them and I did. The one thing Rick said that still rests on my heart is when Ethan was showing him how to pitch a baseball. Rick smiled and said, “we are going to have to work on that.” He is here, for the long run of raising a kid. Dear Lord bless this process. Direct our hearts and our own growth and process. You do make all things beautiful in your time. Protect the hearts of all of my kids as I struggle with my past behaviors which I have said often were not honorable. YOU are to be honored in this life of mine and I am doing my best. Keep me in Your will always.
p.s. I have permission from Rick to share this story.