Those seemingly random questions that kids fire at us from time to time, serve as windows into their world. Their questions allow us a glimpse of what they might be processing in those little minds. They are nuggets of insight into what really matters to our kids at a point in time.
As I lay next to my 8 year old in his bed this morning, out of the blue he asked “daddy, why did you leave work early, rushing back home to see me arrive on the first day when I was born?”
He has heard the story many times because I have shared it with him.
But here he is again, seemingly out of the blue, asking the question again.
So, as the ritual goes, I share the story again as if for the first time with the same passion and attention to detail like first time I told it.
I tell him about that day eight years ago and how I couldn’t focus in the office. It was the day a little four day old baby boy was going to be brought home from the hospital and handed over to my wife and I to look after as its foster carers. I was excited at work. I couldn’t focus as I looked forward to seeing this baby at the end of the working day, about to be entrusted into our care.
I tried to focus in meetings that day, but failed. I tried to focus on my inbox and tasks, but couldn’t. About midday, or a bit later, I gave up, shut down my computer and announced to my team that I was going home early!
I had to go home and see the new arrival. And so I did. I remember driving home through the traffic, getting home, walking in the front door to see my wife, this little baby boy cradled in her arms about to see the social worker out the door.
I remember being told his name as I gently lifted him out of my wife’s arms. Cradling him in my arms, looking down on his little face, fast asleep and content. In that moment, I knew I loved this little boy and will all my days.
Our lives were about to embark on the journey in which just two years later, he would officially become our son. It took two years for the legal and administrative paperwork that allowed the judge to make us officially his parents in the eyes of the law, but it really happened for us from the first moment we set eyes on him and loved him.
So, I tell him this story … yet again.
But that is not the point of this post. The point is about how this story of our first meeting and my restless excitement at work in the build up, continues to matter, 8 years later to that 4 day old baby boy. Why does it matter to him? Why does he want to hear me repeat the story every now and again?
I believe it’s because we need to know that we are loved. We need to know that we are wanted. We need to know that we are cherished.
Love, unconditional love and acceptance, is the only true bedrock of security and self esteem that I know. Just as I rest safe in the knowledge of God’s love, so my son needs to rest safe in the knowledge of my love for him until he is old enough to be established in the knowledge of his own self-identity and self-worth. I can only imagine this is even so much more important for a deeply intelligent and sensitive child growing up in the knowledge that he was adopted.
One commitment we made as parents is that our son will know he is loved every single day. We tell him. We show him. Daily. We believe in the power of love to ground, heal and transform.
And so as my eight year old son randomly asked the question again this morning, I knew it was important that I was able and willing to tell that story again as if I were telling it for the first time.
I do hope and pray that the day will come when he doesn’t need to hear the story anymore. Because he knows he is loved. He is wanted. He is cherished; adopted or not. He is my son and I love him.