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.

For My Boys III


Being your dad has been the single greatest privilege of my life; Yet, I cannot help but wonder at times if I’m enough. If you wouldn’t have been better equipped had you been raised by a soldier; better educated by a teacher; better advantaged by a politician. At the very least, if you would have benefited emotionally under the nurturing of a mother. Someone who could have carried some of the weight alongside my efforts to raise you to be confident, self-sufficient men. But if there’s one thing I feel I have done, it has been to never allow your circumstances to become excuses for poor behavior or a lack of effort, nor have I allowed them to become roadblocks in your unique journey.

For my own deficiencies as a father; as a man; as a mentor, I apologize. In many ways, a man is ill-equipped to raise children perfectly. Much the same as a woman, attempting to do the same. I know that I have, in many ways, benefitted in my upbringing from the influence of both sexes. Both lending to the development of the man I am today. Both perfect and both flawed. And even two parents will share much of the self-doubt I carry at times, and may produce similar men under two sets of well-intentioned, watchful eyes, in much the same way I strive to. But these influences and deficiencies can never be a reason for any success, or lack thereof, that you achieve in your own lives, for many a great man has changed the world for the better with far less advantage or forged themselves out of far greater adversity.

You will be too young at the time of this writing to grasp the state of affairs currently facing families. We are just beginning to crest the mountain top of a world-wide pandemic, while many of our Nation’s leaders use the distraction to deceptively strip American’s of their Civil Liberties. Under the banners of unity, tolerance, peace, and safety, have sought to undermine many of the principles by which this Country was founded. Families are facing decisions as to whether or not to vaccinate their children with one of three products, rushed to market and ramrodded through testing to get it to people who have listened to mainstream media spreading misinformation and fear-mongering in order to influence the outcome of an election. Trillions in misappropriated stimulus packages passed with little regard for the long-term effects of such an influx of unbacked currency. You will one day read of this past year in your history books, if our current cancel culture hasn’t censored and rewritten these events by that time.

Although many people who may stumble across this may disagree with the conclusions I’ve drawn or the predictions I have made, I can say with full confidence that I sincerely hope those in disagreement are proven in time to have been right and that time has, by contrast, proven me wrong on every point. 

It is in times like these that anxiety and fear creep in. It is in times like these that the merits of a man are tested and tried. In time, the likelihood is that you will face similar or worse as you raise your own families. It is in those times that I want you to remember these words: Understand that which is in your control; Understand that which is not. Focus on what you control. Your choices; your actions; your attitudes; your will.

Nothing else is truly ever in your control and can be stripped from you without warning. Your health can be snatched away in a single breath. A loved one taken in tragedy. Your finances laid to ruin. In those moments, you must look within. As Rudyard Kipling writes in his famous poem, “IF”, “…Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop to build them up again with worn-out tools…”

This is not meant as a pessimistic outlook on an unwritten future, but a word of inspiration. Because great men are born of adversity. They triumph in the face of uncertainty. How can you know the limits of your strength unless it is tested to failure? You need to know that your Dad sees greatness in you, but greatness comes from great sacrifice. Often rising out of suffering. It is with such knowledge that I would not wish greatness upon you; but, rather, the strength and fortitude to achieve greatness through the expectence and overcoming of certain adversity.

Know that any thinking man at times finds himself plunged into depression. Only a fool sees the world through the rose-colored lenses of untethered optimism. Show me a man of optimism and I will show you one full of delusion, unfit to rule himself, much less lead a family. This is a man who will be caught unprepared in a storm, rattled to his very core. Depression is a tool of temporary sobriety from the highs of life and should serve as a mirror, reflecting your shortcomings. Abraham Lincoln has been said by many to have been the greatest President this Country has ever seen, yet he admitted to severe and lengthy bouts of crippling depression. He was also considered one of the great Stoics of his time. A man who knew that emotions were a reflection of thought, and should be viewed as nothing more real than a happy or dreary dream. Men must feel a full range of emotion, for this is human, but never succumb to their influence in choosing a course of action. If you learn to isolate and apply logic to every thought, your emotions, albeit tempered, will be of use, rather than leading you down the path of the unstable.

And finally, in times of adversity, train your mind to the present. Many have speculated that only about ten percent of what we spend ninety present of our time feeling anxious about, ever actually comes to past. Yesterday is no longer in your control; neither is tomorrow. What you have is today. More precisely, this very moment. That is what is in your control. When you hold your own child in your arms, the days will feel long. But, don’t allow a second of it to pass in fantasizing about an imagined future or trying to recapture moments owned by the past. Look into the eyes of your child. Feel his or her breath upon your cheek. Treasure that moment above all others, because the quality of your life is made up of moments exactly like that one: here today; gone tomorrow. The exact number, I can only pray will be many, but it is my hope that you will live each one with the understanding that they are all too often, few.