Back to One

4 Jun

ME: Days off are hard to come by. I was hoping for a little more fun and relaxation when I put in to take today off for my birthday a couple of weeks ago.

CAREY: I know, but Little Man is sick and can’t go to school. That’s the way it goes.

ME: I’m not trying to complain, it’s just a bummer. Stuck at a Pediatrician’s office.

CAREY: Well, maybe later this evening we can do something fun.

ME: Really?

CAREY: Yeah. We can all watch a kid’s movie together. Then we can play that owl board game he likes so much.

ME: …

CAREY: What.

ME: Nothing.

CAREY: What.

ME: Well, those things aren’t fun.

CAREY: I know, but Little Man is sick. That’s the way it goes.

 

She’s right. That’s the way it goes these days. When you have a four-year-old living under your roof, your schedule is more or less spoken for.

You know? I should rewind a little.

My triplet blog has become a reliably annual affair. It’s not that I don’t think about it throughout the rest of the year. It comes to mind often. Six years ago today, we met and lost our triplet sons Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar. I think of them every day and even now I’m occasionally hit with a surprise pain, almost no warning. Gut shot in the middle of a meeting or during my morning commute. You grit your teeth and ride the red wave. You get through it.

And even though grief is never really, truly over, a few years ago we made the decision to move ahead to the next thing. We’d try again. We weren’t, as they say, getting any younger.

Admittedly, my heart was only half in it. And maybe nature knew, because, after about a year and a half, it became clear that our prime fertility years were behind us. Specialists assured us we were ideal candidates for all manner of treatments and procedures and Just say the word, you’ll be in Healthy White Baby Country lickety split.

But on that issue I was firm. My personal philosophy was such that expensive, medically heroic measures in the name of fertility were difficult to justify in these troubled times. Literal millions of children are in desperate need of loving homes inside our own borders, not to mention the profound need overseas. Understand, that sentiment isn’t meant to indict or alienate my good friends who have participated in fertility treatments (all great, loving parents). In fact, the vast majority of triplet parents in the world partly owe their full quiver to advancements in fertility science. But for me, personally, I couldn’t do it.

So, then… what? Overseas adoption? Foster care? Maintain our DINK status and run out the clock, insulated by disposable income?

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of the months and years of vacillation, the tears, the arguments, the starts and stops. In November, we completed our certification and became foster parents to the coolest kid I’ve ever met, a tow-headed four-year-old. I wish I could share his name, his face and his story, but alas. Here’s the best I can do:

Christopher back of head

Carey and I love him. Truly and honestly. When I looked at the remains of my boys six years ago, I remember my own heartbreak about the fact that they’d never grow to become strong, healthy men with big hearts and wise souls. But I look at this kid each morning and it’s my continual prayer for him. “Create in him a clean heart and renew his spirit.” My biggest priority is helping him become the sincere, confident adult my own boys never had the chance to be.

But here’s the thing, and this shouldn’t go unsaid: when we mention our Foster Parent Adventure to people who know about our story, they’ll often give us a satisfied smile and a knowing nod that seems to say, “Yes. That makes sense.”

I promise. It doesn’t.

This journey is the exact opposite of intuitive. Take two reasonably intelligent adults who met and lost their three children on the same day and offer them the chance to involve themselves in a situation that will almost certainly end in tears and heartbreak. A situation fraught with added stressors in the form of court dates, mysterious behavior issues and government accountability. And that’s not even mentioning the surreal experience of saying the word “yes” on a phone call and, two days later, having a four-year-old you’ve never met with issues and traumas and stories you have no idea about dropped off at your house.

“Thanks for parenting him. We’ll let you know when it’s time to give him back.”

It’s a beautiful and difficult thing. I always wondered what sort of a father I would be and I’m finally finding out.

(On a scale of Awful to Awesome, I’d rank my current dad skills at an “Iffy” with signs of slow improvement.)

Again, though, this kid is amazing. I could go into detail, but to sum up: his life is difficult, but he loves it anyway.

Six years ago, I wondered what my future life would be. Could we find or build a situation that would replace what’s lost, that would fill the hole?

Nope. No dice. But maybe that’s okay. This is a whole other thing. A scary, weird, unnatural, fun, frustrating, exhausting, hilarious, ridiculous other thing.

Places, everyone. Back to one. Let’s change things up a bit, try some improv. Everybody set? Still rolling? Sound speeding. Quiet, please. And:

Action.

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5 Responses to “Back to One”

  1. noelleandphoebe June 4, 2017 at 8:07 am #

    You don’t know how much I enjoy seeing the annual surprise post from Jeremy pop up in my inbox. 🙂

  2. Jenny June 4, 2017 at 8:14 am #

    “Create in him a clean heart and renew his spirit.”

    Oof. That’s some solid mindfulness, & I admire your focus.

    Your insight, as usual, is a gift to behold, but I can’t say I believe your “iffy” score. Sorry, dude. Happy birthday to RDO today. I’ve been thinking of your family this week, now with an extra soul to push love toward.

  3. Beth Dunphy June 4, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    Thanks for your post, Jer….you are so right, your story makes “no sense”. Years ago, I decided that most of the really cool things that happen in life, make no good sense. Adopting a baby from around the world, as a single divorced woman running a business made no good sense. But I couldn’t NOT do it…it’s been flippin’ crazy…and the best thing I ever did. It will be flippin’ crazy…and beautiful…to see how your story continues to unfold…

  4. Sharon Bear June 4, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    All I can say is what a awesomely lucky Man Child you have. His life’s core without doubt is molded with the unrequited love and support you and Carey have given him. Love cannot be bought. It is the core of self-sacrifice. It is not a commodity a little one can earn. He just “is” loved – and that unconditional-ness I’ll just bet is the first (hopefully not the only) time he will see his worth from another human. Look at what your sons have left by which you teach thousands. You, your ruminations, your helping helpless others to see some sort of sense through love, science, and belief. Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar live on, not just in Heaven with Christ or as stars in the sky, but as tangible life forces on earth. You and Carey share their lives which were designated to be known for this and how many other reasons? God is continuing to bless thousands and you without ceasing with them.

  5. collington June 5, 2017 at 11:07 am #

    You guys are, and always were, amazing people and we wish nothing but the very best for your (yet unknown) future and this exciting new chapter.
    Much love from across the pond,
    Andrew & Lisa xx

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