Publication Information: Putnam, C. L. (1998, Nov / Dec). My December Blessing. Christian Woman Magazine, 14(6), 59,62.
I adopted my son today. Finally and formally, this brown eyed angel is mine. I hold him close this special night, not wanting to relinquish him even for a moment. Captivated by the feel of his damp hair on my cheek, I relish the milky warmth of his breath, his silken brown skin against the paleness of my own, the weight of his soft body on my chest.
My baby. Never again will I have to dread the possibility of his departure. He is safe here, snuggled into his summer blanket, already drifting into dreams.
I am remembering the call on that December day, a call that transformed an ordinary afternoon into a cause for incredible celebration. “A baby has been born,” the foster care worker said. “Are you interested?” I fairly flew to the hospital and was greeted by the sight of a tiny, perfect little boy, taped and monitored and resting peacefully on a Christmas blanket.
“This is Keith,” smiled one of the nurses beside me. Although they must have cared for hundreds of babies in their careers, these kind women never seemed to have lost their delight in a new life.
Surrounded by their gentle support, I touched my baby for the first time, marveling at skin so delicate it felt like nothing at all. I was over whelmed, stunned, enchanted, frightened, and thrilled.
Over the next several days, as Keith was strengthening his grip on life, the nurses coached this inexperienced mother on how to feed, cradle, diaper and care for the amazing little creature who was so suddenly mine to care for.
And then I brought him home. I had never thought I would love him so much, but over the next months he became my son in my heart, if not yet legally.
Would I be offered the opportunity to become his permanent parent? If so, would I be able to accept? I had already adopted an older child, Adam. Would I, as a single mother, be able to manage two children?
I did not know if the possibility even existed. All I knew was that I was falling more hopelessly in love with this child every day, and I could hardly bear to contemplate him leaving. The very thought of it brought a sorrow that felt like death.
Keith’s father then appeared in our lives, declaring he would seek custody. He had a job, a place to live and planned to continue his schooling, he said. I tried to brace myself. I wanted what was best for my baby. I trusted God, but it was a leaden heart that I lifted to Him, asking Him to help this young man raise his son should that be his decision.
Then the call came that the father had changed his mind. He had decided it was better for Keith to remain with me, and he signed away his rights.
From that moment on, both the challenges and the joys became more real. What did I know about raising a baby? How would he be without a father? What could I do to ensure a positive racial identity? How would I manage to save for college? How could I ever live without his dear sweet smile?
And now he is mine forever. So much is ahead, but I know that God will help us in the rough places. Our lives are fulfilled and happy, and we are squeezing all the joy from every moment.
I watch him at play, climbing, giggling, chasing the cats. I see him grin and wave in greeting to everyone who passes his way His mouth drops in amazement as he sees a giraffe for the first time. He delights in ice cream, raindrops, puppies and swings. He gazes deeply and laughs long. He trusts the world to love him back.
I feel joy and gratitude. Gratitude to his birth mother who, knowing she could not provide a home for her child, was unselfish enough to allow another to adopt him. Thank God for this woman’s maturity in recognizing her situation and seeking a better future for this little one.
Thank God for the young father’s humility, for his willingness to set aside his own rights for the sake of the child’s good. Even though his heart yearned for his son, he was only a teenager himself and knew he was not yet ready to be a parent. Bless them both with peace in their decisions.
Thank God for friends and family, for a church fellowship that values each child regardless of race, abilities or circumstances of birth. These dear people have surrounded me from the start with support and love, with tangible kindnesses, with sympathetic ears and generous hearts.
I have awakened many mornings to find a sack of toys or clothes on my doorstep with a note: “Just going through some things— thought Keith or Adam could use these!” From their ranks have arisen godparents for my boys and a “Papa and Mimi” who are as devoted to them as any grandparents could be.
As I hold Keith close in my arms tonight, I am filled with wonder. How could God give such a gift to me, to any of us?
I breathe in the soft scent of baby soap and clean pajamas. His dimpled hand is tucked under his chin, and he sighs in his sleep, turning his head on my shoulder. I lay him gently in his crib. God has entrusted this precious little lamb to me. He will be watching over him tonight