Amber and I have had a relationship that is very different than most. From the time we met, we were extremely honest with each other and had pretty in depth conversations about our past, our present, and the goals of our future. We even talked about marriage and children as early as our first or second date.
Growing up I always questioned whether or not I would be able to have children due to my cancer treatments, but I never worried much about it, because I felt that if I couldn’t, I would adopt a child. No matter what, I always knew that I wanted to be a father, and I knew that whether my children came biologically or through adoption they would still be my children. I even saved all of my old GI Joes and collected old Disney movies and cartoons that I watched as a kid, in hopes that one day I could share them with my own kids. It was very exciting for me to find out that Amber wanted children as much as I did, and it was refreshing that she was also open to having children through adoption.
A few months after our wedding we had the opportunity to attend a CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) summit in Nashville, where we were able to hear stories from people who had adopted, fostered children, and even people who had been adopted themselves. This conference greatly increased my passion for adoption and opened both my eyes and Amber’s to the world of foster care.
There is one story from CAFO that I will never forget. One of the keynote speakers named Aaron Blake had worked as a guidance counselor at a local high school. All of his kids had graduated and moved forward into adulthood, but one day a star football player who lived in a local foster home was told he was going to have to move again to a different home across the country. This student came to Aaron and pleaded with him to find a way for him to stay. Aaron Blake and his wife decided to take the student into their home and become his foster parents. As time went on, they brought in five other foster children on the team who were told they were moving to a new home. Whenever a new teen came in, Aaron told them, “You are my son. This is your home, and everything in it is yours”.
The guys didn’t always listen or do what they knew they were supposed to do, especially a young man named Diego Fuller. One day Diego was goofing off and accidentally set the house on fire and burned up almost half of the house. The next morning Aaron walked down the stairs and Diego was standing by the door with his bags packed and he asked, “So where am I going now?”
Aaron said, “What do you mean?”
Diego then replied that he had burned down half the house! He knew that he was going to get kicked out for what he did.
Aaron Blake grabbed him and gave him a big hug and said, “You’re not going anywhere. You are my son. It does not matter what you do or what you say. You are my son and this is your family.”
That story really spoke to me and my passion for adoption grew. When Amber and I adopt our child, no matter the gender, no matter what race they are, it will be our child. It will be the child that we will raise together, and we will always be able to say, “You are my child. It doesn’t matter what you do or say. We are your family.”