Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Roundness of Things

Our son Devin turned 20 yesterday.  It’s funny how that sounds to me.  20.  20.  20.

20 revolutions around the sun. 

Late in the afternoon of March 16, 1992, Devin Mills O’Keefe came into this world.  Born to a teenage mother who made the decision to give her child up for adoption, Devin’s delivery went well.  We were told that his birth mother was exhausted but healthy.  She had friends with her.  My God, was she ever brave. 

On that late afternoon when we received the call that Devin was born we were putting together his crib.   We had just gone through the legal procedures, the social work background checks and interviews, sold our condo, bought another place, moved, unpacked, painted… and waited for that phone call. 

After not being able to conceive ourselves for over three years, after having invasive tests and procedures, then conceiving identical twins seeing their tiny heartbeats in a single amniotic sac, only to have them miscarry at about 10 weeks, even after considering that we just might not have children – this incredible decision and opportunity came up within hours of each other.  Heidi tells the story so much better than me.

Dev’s birth mother decided not to have contact with us, not to know us.  And we know almost nothing about her – but for her exceptional bravery and trust that her child would go to a good home.  And he did.

On the way to Charleston on March 18, Heidi drove.  We thought we were ready for this responsibility, this joy, this sea change of life.  But of course one is never really prepared.  You go into this business of raising children flying by the seat of your pants. 

While Heidi drove, I roughed out a letter to Devin’s birth mother on a napkin, then a final draft on a sheet of paper to give to our doctor, to give to Devin’s birth mom.  I kept that scrap of napkin in my address book.  Tucked into one of the inside pockets, folded and coffee stained, faded, with hasty highway handwriting I wrote these notes. 

You’ll never know us.  Perhaps that is just as well but we would like for you to understand some things about us.  We have wanted to have children for several years.  By you making the sacrifices you have made that will be possible for us. 

You will never know how grateful we are and how much admiration we have for you for giving the gift of human life. 

Please understand that we will love this child as though he came from our own bodies.  We will nurture him and care for him the very best we can.  We will provide every opportunity possible for him to grow physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

Here are a few things about us.  We love to listen to music, to read, to write, to laugh, and we love children.  Both of us are educators and have been longing for the day when we could have children of our own. 

What you have done, by allowing us to adopt, will change our lives so much for the better.  We know that it took a great deal of courage for you to carry this baby to term.  It took a lot of conviction and love to make this possible.

Please feel our gratitude and respect for you and know that the decision you made was the right one.

This child will be loved.

And he has been.  Who would have thought that we would be giving him a TV for 

his college apartment, a new vest for wake boarding?  Who could have projected out and seen this big, strong, smart, talented MAN who can pick up his mom and spin her around and look her in the eye and tell her that he loves her… who teases 

mercilessly and laughs and enjoys Asian food, who works out like a maniac… who comes home from college with dirty clothes and washes his little two-seater car in the driveway. 

…who has brought a beautiful and brilliant young woman into our lives whose sparkling laughter and obvious love for Devin gives us unimaginable joy.

And as I look at this crumpled napkin with this anxious cursive scrawl, I can remember that earnest youngish couple with an empty carseat strapped into the back – just waiting to take the ride of their lives. 

And what a ride it has been.

20 revolutions around the sun.


Meesh Hays said...

I like to think that scared little girl, not even 40 years old yet, sometimes touches the worn, tear-stained, 70+mph scrawl you managed to get on what I imagine to be a piece of paper from a legal pad. Maybe the only time she looked at it this year was on his birthday, like every other year, but maybe she reads it to remind herself of how right her decision was on the random days here and there that she wonders if it was...

Then again, writers don't always write for their audience. Maybe you just wrote that for you and Heidi - maybe even just for you. But I sure am glad you wrote it for the rest of us to share these 20 revolutions later.

Jennifer Barnes said...

Oh, Tim! What a gift of writing to savor - for that precious girl on the toughest day of her life. But, also, for that angel wife of yours driving towards an unknown future - and for that son, Devin, who will look back one day and realize how truly blessed he has been all his life. Not many children have been more loved or more anticipated or more precious to his parents!