Every last state, national, and international document was meticulously prepared, signed, and filed with appropriate authorities. We held our breath, moment-by-moment expecting notification from our lawyer in Kenya that we could book plane tickets and claim our son. His tiny coat hung on the hooks next to our other two boys’, Jacob (4) and Justin (1). His crib stood ready and waiting next to Justin’s. Our hearts flooded with love, anxious to embrace the object of our affection. Days crept by without word. We clutched the tattered photo of our son, and our hearts ached.
Then, suddenly without warning, my extremely healthy 54 year-old dad suffered a massive stroke and barely survived the first night. As we reeled in trauma, we received a fax from our Kenyan lawyer stating that our son’s case was stuck in the system indefinitely. At the same time, a friend emailed from Kenya to say that our son was hospitalized for potential heart problems.
Keeping vigil at the hospital in Colorado, as agonizing as it was, we sensed the Lord gently urging us to focus on my precious dad and family here. We heard him whispering into our hearts that He Himself watched over our son. We often prayed through our tears that He would sing over our son as he slept.
One day I snuck away from doctors’ reports and medical apparatus to the hospital chapel. Alone in reverent silence, tears trickled down my cheeks. I looked up and saw a sculpture of Simeon holding Baby Jesus. Deeper than words, God promised me that, even so, He held our son.
Just a few weeks into my dad’s eight week hospital-stay for stroke survival and rehabilitation, his mother, my beloved grandmother, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She valiantly visited my dad in the hospital every day and never spoke of pain or discomfort. But within two week of his release, she passed away. I cherished the privilege of caring for her until her last moments.
Throughout these tumultuous two months, our lawyer in Kenya remained completely silent. But on the day after my grandmother’s funeral, we received a mind-boggling fax that not only could we come for our son, he was in fact already legally ours.
The details of what exactly transpired during that time concerning our son’s heart remain unclear, but American doctors continue to declare him absolutely healthy.
Thirteen years later, there are still moments when I look at my son and feel certain that my heart will burst – such a rush of love that there cannot possibly be enough room to hold it. I study his beautiful profile while he sleeps and tenderly sketch its outlines, admiring his regal African features. I exult in making him laugh, and sometimes wrap him from behind unexpectedly in a bear hug. I can’t contain the joy he brings to me.
I am acutely aware that He faces many challenges. It is not so easy to figure out what it means to be a Black male when the people who love you most are White, when the only other Black person in your family is a younger sister. It’s frustrating when you aren’t sure about hair care and your mom has to consult the internet or email your youth pastor to find answers. It is not so easy to discern your identity when the Black people in your church look like you, but you were born in another country where people savor ugali instead of Southern fare. A wound festers with unanswerable questions when other kids talk about blood ancestry, and yours begins and ends with you. It’s a gaping hole that can never be filled, without a trace beyond the Mother Teresa orphanage gates of those who gave you life. There is a void of panic when you consider your first moments in this world, alone and vulnerable, abandoned. When you imagine your tiny body pressed against the muck of slum-ground instead of embraced in loving arms.
But through it all, then as now, I know without a doubt that the God of the Universe cradles my son against His chest. When I needed it most, God gave me a visual promise for what will always be true no matter what circumstances transpire. My son is God’s beloved, and God’s beloved he will always be.