Recently, some adoption friends traveled across the earth to bring home their 5th daughter. For larger family reasons the father in the home stayed behind to man the fort, but through the magic of Facetime he got to be a part of his new daughter’s Gotchya Day, trips to the park and medical appointments in China. Even so, he would still have to wait to hold his sweet girl’s face in his hands. After two long weeks, he drove to the airport to welcome his family home. The video of this papa eagerly waiting for his family absolutely melted my heart. Let me paint the picture:
A busy airport terminal, people scurrying to either get to or get back from. A tall man holding several bouquets of flowers, looks anxiously down the long terminal, standing several feet in front of a large welcome-home committee with hand drawn signs and phones prepped for pictures. He nervously shifts his weight and checks his watch approximately every 7 seconds, several times looking back at the support group asking, “Do you see them yet? Does anyone see them? They should be here already.” He alternates between checking his watch and shifting his weight… again.
Then, he sees his bride down the long stretch and a smile explodes across his face! Immediately his eyes drops to the level of her knees looking for a familiar little girl’s face. “She’s here!!” he shouts. He runs his finger through his hair and bounces a few feet forward, obviously every cell in his body wanting to run to meet them (the silly TSA man will see that that does NOT happen).
He jumps in place, reaching to wave like a 7 year old trying to see Santa at the end of the parade.
The welcome home party (who clearly can see what is happening on their own) encourages him as he shouts repeatedly “She’s here! They made it!!” There is more bouncing and waving and grins that might actually be sourced from somewhere near his toes. Then… his wife and his new precious daughter cross over the TSA line and he runs to them, dropping to his knees where his own tear filled eyes can meet those of his worried daughter. “It’s OK, honey. I’m your baba,” he says while stroking her cheek. “You are home now and I love you.” He draws her in for a gentle hug and while she reluctantly agrees she melts into him. She is home.
Can you see it? Can you feel it?! It is the perfect picture of a father’s heart. A daddy madly in love with his child. It didn’t matter that he had never met her. It didn’t matter that another man across the world had physically made her. She. Was. His. And nothing was going to contain the passion he felt for his child. Every beat of his human heart was (is!) for the children God had given him, no matter how they came into his arms.
Men, I know that women, mommas, are commonly a couple steps a head of you on the adoption journey, especially in that first Call to adopt. It is sometimes difficult to lead and provide for a biological family and consider the long term ramifications of stepping out in adoption. The struggle is real. But when the switch is flipped, oh my goodness! When the ahh-haa moment is filled with the Holy Spirit and a father’s heart turns towards his (soon to be) child… it is powerful. Daddies, I know emotional paternity doesn’t always come easily and stepping out to adopt someone else’s child can be hard, but when you get it. I mean really get it, you can’t be stopped! How God’s heart is tucked away in your humanness is totally unique from how a mother loves her children.
There is a glimpse of our Heavenly Father’s heart for us available to us every time you cradle your child, in how you both lead and provide boundaries, in how you carefully encourage your child’s heart, even in how you get on the floor and play after a long day at work. It’s how God wants to love us, if we would only let Him. This is probably why Satan works so hard to destroy men in their families… and why God is so intent on redemption. I am reminded of William Young’s description of Father-God’s paternal-ness in his book The Shack: “…once the Creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering… both are needed – but an emphasis on fathering is necessary because of the enormity of its absence.”
Photo credit: Shelby VanderKooy
Men, you have such an incredibly special place in the family.
• You are the father your new daughter will learn to trust. Her heart will be dated by you first, learning to be cherished, respected and protected.
• You are the man your new son will learn integrity from. How to humble his heart, seek the Lord and learn to lead honorably.
• You are the grandfather that will pass on a legacy of faith to your new grandchild. From you a history of loving the Lord through valleys and mountain peaks will be learned.
• You are the uncle your niece or nephew will learn community and accountability from. How to live together and apart; following God’s leading and supporting those around you as they follow their own Call.
• You are the big brother your new sibling will learn both adventure and grace from. The balance is delicate and only Big Brothers know how to walk that line carefully!
Let me stress a very important point… you do not have to be biologically or legally related to a child to have a father’s heart toward them. As a single mother, I am so very aware of this. My son has an uncle with no relation to me whatsoever, that loves him and pursues his little heart. And oh my, Isaac loves him right back! There is also a gentleman at church nearing his retirement years that seeks my child out every Sunday to lay hands on him and pray a blessing over him. When Isaac isn’t in the mood, he prays over me as I parent my child alone. We also have family friends with a teenage son that takes the time to get on the floor and wrestle… I mean really wrestle… with my little boy that could easily be passed off as a pesky kid to be ignored. Each of these men are speaking life to my son’s heart in a way that I cannot, simply because they are men. They are relationships that I value and feel personally blessed by. (Isaac’s “Great-Grampa” made me promise to teach our boy about Jesus and the Green Back Packers. “If he loves those two things, he’ll be just fine.” Wise words only a grampa can provide.)
A father’s heart is real and is tangible in so many beautiful ways. Today we celebrate each of the men that offer their heart through the Lord’s to the children around them. Thank you for stepping out. Thank you for loving, maybe even when it isn’t comfortable or natural. Thank you for seeking ways to mirror the Lord’s heart for us. You are making a impact. You make our families whole.