Jon’s First Father’s Day!

Tomorrow is Jon’s first Father’s Day. I think back to when we first saw Sam. As Jon held him for the first time, tears rolled down his cheeks. There was an instant bond between the two of them. I think back to when we brought Sam home on the plane. Jon held sweet baby Sam through the really really bumpy plane ride. I think back to when Sam got his first shots and tears again rolled down Jon’s cheeks wishing he could take away the discomfort. I think back to when Sam was sick and wanted to be held round the clock and Jon would hold him the entire night. I think back when Jon read to Sam the book Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis, and was barely able to get the words out. I think back to when Sam first smiled, laughed, rolled over or started to crawl (last night!) and the excitement on Jon’s face as he understands what a great miracle this child is in our lives. And then I think back to the time we said goodbye to Sam’s birthparents and the tears as Jon promised Sam’s birthfather that he would always love and protect their son. He has done that, DSC_0115and so much more.

Small boys become big men

through the influence of big men

who care about small boys.

- Anonymous

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Three Mothers

100_1050From my Mother’s Day talk in church…..

This mother’s day, I feel like I have special cause to celebrate. Rachel and I were able to go to the temple yesterday to have Sam sealed to us.  The journey into fatherhood has been one where I have been constantly in awe of the love that mothers can give.  I count myself to have 3 wonderful examples of motherhood in my life – My dear wife, my mother, and Sam’s birthmother – all of whom have taught me something about a mother’s love.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).

I have observed with Rachel that motherhood has its sweet moments – the last snuggle from Sam as he’s tucked into bed, knowing that she can comfort him when no one else can, kissing his little toes after bathtime – but mothering is not always an easy responsibility.  In our home, it ranges from walking the hall at nights, trying to calm Sam down for bed after a busy day, to running multiple loads of laundry in a day for him when he’s sick, to taking him to the doctor to get immunizations even though she knows they’re going to hurt for a little bit.  As hard as some of these experiences can be, in my mind there is a much more difficult decision that was made by his other mother before he arrived on Earth – the decision to put his needs for the future ahead of the desire for the moment, and choose adoption.

Many of you don’t know the story of how Sam came into our home.

Rachel and I have been married for nearly seven years.  For the first few years, we had school, work, and other life events that we thought were good reasons to delay starting a family.  Unfortunately, when we decided that it was time for our family to grow beyond the two of us, we discovered that Heavenly Father had other plans for us.  We prayed and went to the temple, and decided to follow a twin course of infertility treatments and preparing our paperwork to be adoptive parents.  As we moved through the journey of infertility diagnosis and treatments, I couldn’t help but notice the increased pain it caused her, month after frustrating month as we were unable to make that next step into parenthood together.  During that time, she continued to strive to become a better woman in preparation for being a mother, in spite of the fact that we had no child.  As Elder Faust stated in 1988: “Your eternal helpmate will gently hold you to your potential. She will give loving and thoughtful encouragement, as well as comfort and discipline. She will also lift you up when you are down and bring you back to earth when you are puffed up. She will bless your life in countless ways. As President Kimball said, “Brethren, we cannot be exalted without our wives. There can be no heaven without righteous women” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 5).”  We grew together through trials, and she grew to be even a greater righteous woman than she had been before – no small feat for someone already as good as she was.  After many cycles of disappointment, we decided to take a break for a month and reappraise the situation.

During the timeframe when we normally would have been undergoing another round of treatment, we got a call that would change out lives forever. We had sent out our adoption profile to our family members around the country, and Rachel’s mother’s cousin knew someone in their ward who knew of a possible match.  There was a woman in Iowa who was pregnant, but in a situation that she would not be able to provide the opportunities she wanted for the baby. Rachel and Sam’s birthmom Holly talked on the phone almost every day for the next few weeks.  During that time, they discussed plans for this baby, dreamed about how he would grow up, and figured out how things would work for placing the baby with us.  These two mothers became united in the purpose of planning out the best life for this baby.  We came as two families and left as one. Finally the time came when Sam was born, and for us to go to Iowa and meet Holly and Sam.  We spent time in the hospital together as a decidedly non-traditional family, then spent time together outside of the hospital – in large part, so that we could all feel comfortable that we were doing what was best for little Sam.  After 10 days, Rachel, Sam and I boarded a plane and came home, and the joy that we had been feeling could be shared with our families.  After many long challenges, Rachel was a mother, with Sam as her baby.  Two weeks ago, we sat in court and listened as he was declared legally our baby, but the mother-child bond had formed long before then – Rachel became Sam’s mother in her heart in the instant she saw him in the hospital.  Holly will always be his mother, too, and we are eternally grateful that she made the decision to make us the parents of her sweet baby boy.  The love that must go into making such a hard decision is the purest, most complete love that I know of, short of the love the Savior has for us.  I celebrate both of Sam’s mothers.

My own mother is a critical reason why I am where I am today.  Throughout my childhood, as I was busy getting into things I probably shouldn’t have, she kept trying to teach me.  When my sisters and I would be at each others throats, there would be mom, singing “Love at Home,” which, as I recall,  never served to instill feeling of love between my sisters and me, but served as enough of a distraction to stop us doing what we were doing.  Even now, when times are challenging, and kindness is in short supply, I find myself thinking “Mom would totally be singing ‘Love at Home’ right now if she were here,” so maybe it did work after all.

From Alma, talking about Helaman’s two thousand stripling warriors, (Alma 56: 47-48) yea, they had been taught by their cmothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their amothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.

Never in my life have I doubted that my mother knows what God is capable of on a personal level.  Never have I questioned whether she has a testimony of the truth, for she has always shown in her life that she knows.  She has always been an advocate for me, even when I did not particularly deserve it, and I have no doubt that she always will be there for me.

We had the great privilege of being in the temple to have Sam sealed to us.  What a joy to be in the sealing room, with my Sam, Rachel, and both of our mothers as many friends and family witnessed that great blessing.  The bond of love that has already grown to great strength in the last few months was made into an eternally strengthening one, and as full as my joy for that is, I know that Rachel is even more overjoyed.  Our journey to this point had its challenges, but I believe that the challenges have made the reward of parenthood that much sweeter.

Jon