The thought occurred to me the other day that, while I blogged incessantly throughout the process with your older brothers, I did not do so when it came to yours. This bothers me because I don’t want to leave you with the impression that your adoption was any less important. The truth is that a lot of things caught up with me during the process and I found I had far less energy at the end (and beginning, for that matter) of each day, coupled with the cognitive skill of microwaved play-doe. But your adoption was, in many ways, even more of a miracle than your brothers was, because it put your tiny life, contained within your four-and-a-half-pound body, entirely in my hands.
You wouldn’t cry when you needed to eat, which meant that I had to rely solely on eight separate alarms in my phone, each set three hours later than the previous. That was your feeding schedule for the first few months of your life. When an alarm went off, I would take a pre-mixed two-ounce bottle of Neo-Sure formula and spend the next thirty to forty-five minutes nodding off while hoping you would get more of it inside you than you had on your onesie. Your pediatrician had assured me that the risk was real that you could become malnourished by missing even a single feeding and suffer severe complications as a result. Once the bottle was fully drunk, I would check your diaper and lay you back down; make sure the next alarm was still active, and try, myself, to fall back asleep, knowing that the next alarm was a mere two-ish hours away, while being subtly terrified that I would sleep straight through it — or the following three.
I didn’t know if I had what it took to keep us both alive, all while trying to stay on top of your brothers needs and keep a little energy in reserves for personal needs. You would be shocked how little oversight I was given during your first couple months in my care. I was given a puppy once and received several calls over the first six weeks asking how the puppy was adapting to my home. But a baby born seven weeks premature?
Tyler, if you choose to have children one day, and I hope that you do, make it your life’s purpose to focus so intently on their needs that you are afraid to drift off to sleep for fear that you’ll miss a moment you can never recapture. Because as difficult as that experience was for you and me, I wouldn’t trade any part of it to regain the hours of sleep I lost on account of it. I knew at that point that I was capable of tremendous sacrifice if it meant you would get another few hours of life as a result.
If I’m being honest, which is something I will always be with you, it wasn’t just my energy level that kept me from writing throughout the process. I’d also grown quite accustomed to isolation and felt less need to write about what I was experiencing. In a small way, I think I was filling the need for talking with a spouse by sharing with the internet. An outlet I grew to need less and less as time passed and dad-life became more normalized. When I first became licensed for foster care and your brothers were placed with me, I had a number of people who would look in on me and offer assistance from time-to-time. They also made it a point to continue including me in invitations to their homes or group events. This slowly tapered off over the years until, by the time you were born, it happened only on rare occasions, if at all. I have good friends who have never met you, even though you will be just about two years old at the time of this writing. This isn’t to draw on any sort of pity. This is just the simple fact that people get busy with their lives and when you disappear off peoples’ radar for too long, they tend to move on without you. They are all people with whom I feel some connection, but we seldom talk and even more seldomly visit. And in that I feel extremely isolated, if not completely removed from my previous life. But, again, I wouldn’t change a single aspect of it if there were even the slightest risk that you or your brothers may have ended up anywhere else.
Growing up, there was always talk about finding one’s purpose in life. Usually, it was in a religious context. Like, I would one day be chosen by God to lead his people through the desert or be called to some distant land to convert lost souls. This always sounded terrible to me, and I spent a fair amount of time hiding that fact from everyone around me out of fear that I was somehow lacking the love of Christ and destined to burn in hell, or at least in the furnace of their collective disappointments. This, of course, was all nonsense, perpetrated by my perspective of a system of organized religion that I have been at war with my entire life. A self-inflicted, crippling oppression that layered guilt atop failure until the only thing left was to find glory in my own weakness in the hopes that this acceptance would somehow provide my life that coveted meaning.
Now, my purpose is you. My purpose is your brothers. Everything I have belongs to the three of you. And everything I do is to protect you from well-intentioned people operating in a world lacking oversight and personal accountability, and to replace it with an example, imperfect though it may be, for you and your brothers, that proves one can experience a true relationship with their Creator while retaining as much distance from the hypocritical judgments of religious people as humanly possible.
Lastly, my hope for you is that you and your brothers share a deep, unbreakable bond, always keeping the others best interests at heart. I traded everything I thought I would become to keep the three of you together. It will be up to the three of you to make sure that bond lasts a lifetime. You should know that your brothers may drive you crazy at times, but they are both so protective of you. Constantly making sure you’re safe in your environment. And you, even at two years of age, gravitate towards the toys in your brothers’ hands, looking for them to include you in their activities. I hope that relationship grows and matures and as my life eventually comes to an end, that the three of you will continue to find solace in the strength you have in each other.
I love you, Tyler.