Father’s Day can be a mixed bag. There was a time for me when it wasn’t. There was a time for me when Father’s Day was normal. That all changed when I lost my dad to Leukemia in 1996 and changed even more after adopting six kids out of the foster care system. Little did I know that losing my father would be used in such a powerful way to connect me with my future children. You see, with adoption, there is always grief and loss. Always. Somebody no longer has their kid or kids (for whatever reason; death, abuse, choice). I have them. Grief. Loss. Adoption. These words go hand in hand.Through adoption my children have been given a father. It was pretty great today to wake up and find my husband laid out on the couch with three of our boys watching Star Wars. They have a dad now. My heart could just burst. There has been tremendous loss for each of our children. Tremendous. There have been times on our adoption journey, especially with the older children we have adopted, that I’ve been able to say, “I don’t know exactly what you are going through, but I have lost a parent. I know it’s not the same, but I know what loss is. I know what it is like to not have life turn out like you thought it would.”Over the years I have walked through the grieving process regarding losing my dad. I’ve taken comfort in knowing that because of his hope in Christ and mine, I will see him again. I’ve often told myself he is just on a vacation. A very, very, very long one. I feel grateful that, over the years, I have been granted the gift of acceptance that my dad is gone from this life. That just came recently. It took me a while to be able to look at my kids and have peace with them not knowing Grandpa Steve. They know about him because I share stories, but they haven’t gone duck hunting with him. Or heard his laugh. Or had his arms wrapped around them. The truth is, he is gone. The truth is, he is not in their life and nothing I say, do, or wish for will bring that back. So, instead, I have looked at my situation square on, and have accepted the truth that my life looks different then I thought it would. When you can accept your reality and live in the truth of the moment, it is quite freeing.
So, today might be a normal Father’s Day for some of you and I rejoice with you. However, for some of you out there (like me) it might be a mixed bag kind of day. Or a piñata that has been smashed to the ground and all the candy has been stolen out of it kind of day. If that’s you, I am sorry. I am sorry if today is a hard day for you. As I think of my dad gone from this earth nineteen years, I remember him more than fondly. I have not forgotten him. However, I choose to focus my eyes instead on my husband and the dad he is today. I choose to focus my eyes on my children who were in the foster care system and then given a new hope and life with us. Yes, I think about their birth father(s) out there somewhere or long gone from this earth. I do. How can I not? I wouldn’t have my kids without them. I get that Father’s Day can be so hard. Those aren’t even the right words to describe it for some of you, or me. For me though, through the hard, I will kiss my husband and thank him for being an amazing dad. I will celebrate with my father-in-law for being a good grandpa all the while remembering my dad with a smile. I will never forget the birth father(s) of my children who gave me what I could not have on my own. A family. Last, but not least, I will thank God for always, always being my Father.
Here’s to Father’s Day, the good and the hard . . . . Here’s to Growing up Alaska. – Niki