Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Family Union

This is the fourth and final part of my adoption narrative. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.

We arrived a few minutes before the agreed-upon time. You may be wondering where one goes to pick up a newly-adopted child---McDonald’s, of course.

We sat down in the middle of the restaurant so that we could keep an eye out through all the windows. To my right, in a booth against a wall, sat an elderly couple. It had to have been 90 degrees outside, but they were sipping piping hot coffee. They were positioned to watch The O’Reilly Factor on the elevated television set. The old man was pre-occupied with killing flies. Apparently, Nacogdoches has suffered a fly-infestation this year due to the mild winter, and this determined man with a high-sittin’ cap was determined to exert dominance over the noxious creatures.

Armed only with a napkin, and an unbridled sense of determination, the old man destroyed his prey. His face lit up more than Ralph Macchio when he caught that fly with a pair of chopsticks.

A few minutes after seven, just outside the Fly Swatter’s window, I noticed a lady walking to the restaurant with a young boy: our son.

Tish and I went outside to meet them; we were overwhelmed with joy, and not exactly sure how to act. Katrina told me to order some chicken nuggets for our new child to nibble on, which I dutifully did. We watched him smile as he ate the chicken. He had the sweetest disposition. Katrina called him our son. Indeed, he was.

Indeed, he is.

When you adopt a child, incidentally, you get to pick a name. We chose Oliver Dickson. We call him Ollie. We named him after my great-grandfather, who was a Baptist preacher in Laurel, Mississippi. His middle name is a family name from Tish’s lineage. We purposefully named him after our relatives because we want him to know that the time Ollie F. Parker (and Ollie Dean Brunson, for that matter) and the Dicksons put in raising the people who would raise Tish and me will have far greater effect on Ollie’s life than genetics ever could.

He will know of Jesus, and His work on the cross. He’ll know a loving home. He’ll know a good education. He’ll know the value of industriousness, the importance of a strong marriage, and why culture is critical.

Lastly, and briefly, let me say this:

I can think of no greater picture of the gospel. Through Jesus, we have been given the power to become the sons of God, “which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And so Ollie is born to us, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh. We chose Ollie, just as God chose us. We chose him before knowing of any good or bad he’s done. We chose him because it pleased us. In this simple act, we take part in the kingdom of God as His people.

Might I add, that no one has yet to come up to us to condemn us for adopting only one child when so many were in need, though we may have the means to do so. Instead, people say something to the effect of, “this child’s life is saved,” and they rejoice in that. Chew on that last point some.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trial and Jubilation---Part 3 of an Adoption Narrative

Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

The following day Faye (one of my law partners) and I called Katrina to come up with a game plan. Faye said she would drive down to Nacogdoches the following day to speak with Katrina and the birth mother and try to talk the birth mother into relinquishing her rights in my favor.

Tish and I prayed again.

Thursday I had a trial in Rusk, Texas. It was a little fender-bender case. My client was the spitting image of Eddie Murphy in “A Vampire in Brooklyn,” and at lunch told us that the plaintiff is rumored to have had an oedipal relationship with his mother, but he didn’t want to gossip. The trial went well, and I was on my way back to Tyler, curious as to how Faye’s meeting with the birth mother was going, but not really believing a woman would agree to give us a child, sight-unseen.

Just as I was getting into Tyler, Tish called to tell me that Faye was driving back from Nacogdoches with an Affidavit of Relinquishment, and the child was, for practical purposes, ours.

I couldn’t believe it. We hadn’t told anybody this was even a possibility.

My legal assistant was in the car with me, so I told her, took her back to the office, made a quick announcement, then I went home to meet Tish.

By this time it was 3:00 p.m. or so, and we were to go to Nacogdoches immediately to get the child, our son, at a McDonald’s.

We owned nothing for children, except for a jogging stroller someone had given us. We resisted ever buying things for our future adopted child, because, frankly, it would be depressing to have baby stuff in our house with no children.

We had no crib, no clothes, not a single diaper. And we realized we had no car seat.

Off to Target.

Actually, we tried Wal-Mart first, but I hate Wal-Mart, and was unsatisfied by what I saw. I was already becoming a yuppie parent.

How does one buy a car seat? Not the cheapest; not the most expensive; halfway between the median and highest price seemed best. So we got the Eddie Bauer edition car seat.

You know those annoying television shows and movies where the dad is portrayed as a complete, bumbling fool? That was me. I could not for the life of me get the cotton-pickin’ thing hooked into the backseat!

It so happened a couple from our church (and two of the few people who knew what our plans were for the evening because we had called them an hour before) was pulling into the Target parking lot. We spent the next 20 minutes installing the car seat.

Off to Nacogdoches!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Call, a Prayer, and a Picture

Fourteen months prior to that episode two important events occurred: Tish and I attended an informational meeting at a church near Lindale for potential adoptive parents through Loving Alternative (a local adoption agency), and a young child was born to a single mother and absent father in Nacogdoches, Texas.

The most difficult aspect of adopting is the waiting. It took us from February of 2011 until December of that year to get all of our home-studies done and our paperwork together. From December of 2011 to May of this year was simply waiting. 

While you’re doing home studies and getting references and such the wait is no big deal, because you’re doing something. Some document must be turned in before you get a child, so there’s no need to be concerned—that’s the attitude, and a source of comfort during that period. But once there’s nothing to do but wait, you just wait.

Hopefully, you also pray, which we did (with varying levels of consistency). Feelings of anxiousness were compounded somewhat, though, by the remarkable fecundity within our Sunday School class. 

As I bemoaned not having a child, a young boy was being passed around from home to home. He was born to an unfortunate drug addict, who had given birth to three prior children, placing them all to adoptive parents or with relatives. After a year or so of neglect, his birth-mother’s aunt stepped in and petitioned a court for custody of the child. CPS got involved and sided with the aunt. After the child was placed with Aunt Kim, she was diagnosed with melanoma, and having several children of her own, she simply could not afford to take care of the young boy, so she asked a friend of hers, Katrina, to keep him

For six weeks, the child lived with Katrina, her three kids, and all of their goats, donkeys, chickens, and dogs out in deep East Texas, in a mobile home off of a black-top road. Katrina is a good, country woman who is a legal assistant at a law office in Nacogdoches, whose husband operates a watermelon farm elsewhere in Texas for much of the year. She found someone to sit with the child during the day while she worked, and she dutifully cared for him for six weeks.

On Tuesday May 29, 2012, around five o’clock, I received a call from Chris (the court reporter). 

“I have a question for you.”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Are you and your wife still interested in adopting a baby?”

“Yeah, absolutely.”

“Are you still okay if the child is half-black, half-white?”

“Sure, we’d love a mocha baby!”

Chris went on to tell me about this little child, and gave me Katrina’s phone number. It turns out that Katrina knew Chris had previously adopted a black child, and asked Chris whether she’d be interested in a new addition. She was not, but mentioned my name.

Immediately, I called Tish.

Immediately, Tish cried. 
A few minutes later, Katrina emailed a picture of the child.  

After work, Tish and I prayed, then went to vote in the primary election. We had to go to two polling places, because my voter registration still had me at an old address. Then we went out to eat, discussed the hope before us, and came home.

Around 7:30 we called Katrina and spoke with her for about 20 minutes---after only 2 minutes she was all-in on us having the child. There was one hang-up, however; neither Katrina, nor Aunt Kim had the authority to facilitate an adoption. The birth mother had to be convinced to place the child.

 Tish and I prayed. We thanked God for the hope he’d given us. And we prayed for the child and the birth mother. We also prayed that we would avoid heartache.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It All Started with a Hundred Dollar Bill

This is the first of a series of posts regarding the Fair Tish and me adopting a baby boy. I've broken this up for readability, so I'll post a new part each day over the course of this week.

On April 3rd of this year, I drove down to Center, Texas, which, incidentally, is nowhere near the center of the state, in order to take the deposition of a police officer. This day was going to be an absolute whipping. After the officer’s deposition that morning, I was to take the deposition of a crusty old woman who was driving an 18-wheeler involved in the accident made the basis of the suit I was working. After that deposition, I was to be in Lufkin, Texas to meet with a new client on a case for which I had just been retained, the trial for which was set for a month later.

When I set up in the conference room in Center, the court reporter came in beaming, “I just found a $100.00 bill outside!” 

“Wow, I know who’s buyin’ us lunch today, Don,” I told the other lawyer.

“Of course, I really think I ought to since I found it outside your office,” she said to Don.

“We’ll do it,” Don said, and it was settled.

Except it wasn’t.

The officer’s deposition concluded about 11:30 and the court reporter (Chris—a woman) said, “Okay gentlemen, where to?”

“Let’s just go somewhere within walking distance,” I replied.

“Oh, I’m going to have to bow out, I’m afraid,” was Don’s response.

I was stuck. I have it as a policy to not eat alone with a woman who is not my wife, and I wasn’t thrilled about the awkward situation in which I’d placed myself. 

As we walked out to head over and get our enchiladas, I called the fair Tish to tell her I was having lunch with another woman. She was less than thrilled, not because she was nervous (I created my policy, she didn’t mandate it) but because she wondered why I would break with tradition. I explained, and she was “okay” with it. Bah! And now I wouldn’t be home until at least 7:00 p.m. 

Over the course of lunch we discussed several things, including family. I told Chris that we didn’t have children, but we were “on the list” at an adoption agency in Tyler, and I mentioned that we were open to adopting a child of any race. Chris said that she and her husband had adopted a black boy years ago. She went on to tell me about that experience—it was all positive.

Before the next deposition, I called Tish and told her about my lunch conversation. She seemed pleased.
As I predicted, the rest of that day was, indeed, crazy. After my second deposition in Center, I trekked over to Lufkin to meet with my car-dealer client, then about five started heading home to Tyler. And there was the worst storm I’ve ever driven through in my life. I have never before been afraid of my car being struck by lightning, but as I came up through Jacksonville, I was getting concerned. It happened that one of my law-partners was five minutes ahead of me on the road (he had been out of town for something else) and we ended up sitting out the storm at a public house on the south side of Tyler, imbibing while the hail passed over. I think we spent most of our time discussing how we thought the Supreme Court would strike down Obamacare.

Got home at 10:00 or so.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

True worship is a sovereign act of God Almighty,

whereby the Third Person of the Trinity condescends to the human soul,

quickening the soul by His power through effectual grace and the instrumentality of the Word of God;

prostrating the flesh in fear, humility, conviction of sin, and contrition before the Almighty;

and then elevating the soul spiritually to contemplate the glory of God revealed in Christ Jesus,

especially His cross;

resulting in the transfiguration and transformation of the soul,

and the soul’s coronation of Jesus Christ as

King of Kings and Lord of Lords,