The bright computer monitor in the hospital delivery room read 151, then 155, then 153. My wife and I traded smiles. It was my unborn son’s heart rate, and the reading was—the nurse said—perfect. The sound, though, was what put a tear in my eye.
Tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump it rapidly went, telling anyone who knew our background: God is amazing … and He has a sense of humor.
We had decided to call him “Isaac,” simply because we, like Abraham and Sarah and their own son by that name, literally laughed when we learned my wife was pregnant. That’s what you do when you become pregnant in your 40s, seven years after adopting your first child and three years after adopting twins. It’s what you do when you learn you’re pregnant 10 years after visiting a fertility doctor, crying and wondering what the future holds. It’s also what you do when you become pregnant after you give away your baby carrier, your baby toys and all your baby clothes.
It’s not the path I would have chosen but, in hindsight, I would not change a thing.
Many couples struggling with infertility—like we did—look at their options and contemplate a question they’d rather not voice publicly: Can I love an adopted child as much as a biological one?
But before Isaac was born this summer, I confronted a very different question: Can I love a biological child as much as my adopted ones?
Our first child was Graham, now 7, who I held seconds after birth and then cried as I gave him his first bottle. He had big cheeks and brown eyes, and before he could walk he’d give me a toothless grin with an “I-want-to-be-just-like-you-when-I-grow-up” look on his face. I helped teach him to ride bikes, to throw a football, to skip rocks on a stream. When he hugs me nowadays, he tells me in his still-sweet voice, “I could do this forever.”
There’s Maggie, now 3, the daughter I thought I’d never have and the child who melts my heart every time I arrive home from work, skipping toward me with outstretched arms. She loves ponytails, puppy dogs, purple dresses, pink shoes, and, yes, me. When she senses I’m discouraged or sad, she smiles, gives me a gentle kiss and says out of the blue, “I love you so, so, so, so much Daddy.” And she asks when we’re next going on a date.
Then there’s William, her twin brother, the most energetic 3-year-old in America—and also the funniest. He loves watching sports (just like I do), looking at planets (just like I do), planting seeds in the garden (just like I do), and eating Mexican food (just like I do). He also loves to make up silly songs. His greatest hit so far is one called “Me and Daddy are buddies,” which has all of five words and can last upwards of five minutes. But it’s simply awesome.
Those are my kids, and—perhaps we should get this out of the way—they are “my own.” Sure, they’re adopted, but so is anyone who calls on the name of the Lord (Romans 8:15). We were all formerly children of wrath, but now children of God (Ephesians 1:5), simply because God adopted us. We are “His own.” Just like my first three children received a new last name, God gives His children a new identity.
One hour after Isaac was born, his excited brothers and sister came to the hospital to visit, each carrying an “It’s a Boy!” balloon. They took turns welcoming him into the family and giving him a soft kiss. “Shhh,” Graham told him, comforting his newest brother as he held him. It was a precious, surreal moment: three children we didn’t conceive, welcoming into the family a baby we did conceive.
“What’s his last name going to be, Mom?” our 3-year-old son asked, innocently.
“The same as your last name,” my wife responded.
Love, after all, has nothing to do with family lineage or ancestral history or pointless bloodlines. The entire Gospel is about adoption—God adopting us because He loved us.
So what about Isaac? Can I love him as much as my other children? Absolutely—and I already do. I’ve cried tears of joy over the thought of raising him, but I did the same with my other three kids, too.
God planned this, and my new son needs me. And I love him.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes college football, midnight debuts of Star Wars movies and pretty much any 80s group that involved big, wild-looking hair. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog? Email me: michaelfoust (at) gmail.com. Also, check out my video section.