To Be a Dad

My husband has one of the most unique stories of anyone I've ever met.

He was adopted from a foreign country at the age of ... well, we don't know his age. He thinks he was about eight. American doctors put his age at six. ("No, wait, maybe seven. Could he be eight? Oh, let's just stick with six.") His earliest memories are of living on the streets as a gutter rat. He stole food to survive and didn't have a home or a family. He was also subjected to constant abuse and scorn because he is a half-breed and the son of an American solider.

It was truly a miracle when a kind woman alerted an Lutheran orphanage in his city that a child who looked part American was living on the streets. Shortly after he was taken in by the orphanage, he was adopted by a couple in Minnesota.

His parents loved him dearly, and his father in particular made sure my husband had "boy adventures" growing up. He got to spend countless weekends in the wilderness, exploring, camping and fishing. He played every sport imaginable. His dad never missed a game.

Yet, for all the love, my husband and his dad are incredibly different people. His Dad is a phlegmatic through and through. Until he retired last year, he had worked at the same job his whole life. He lived in the same house for more than 30 years. His main motives in life are peace and quiet.

And my husband? Who skydives? And scuba dives? And has broken almost every bone in his body while becoming a black-belt in martial arts? And who hasn't worked at a company for more than four years, since he thrives on starting up new ones? Needless to say, he's not phlegmatic.

Put it all together, and you end up with two males who love each other but don't understand each other. My husband loved (and still loves) his Dad, but they are so different, they had a had time relating outside of sports and fishing.

Skip ahead about 20 years, and you'll find my husband today.

It would be completely understandable if my husband struggled with fatherhood. He would tell you himself that he's just now comprehending what "family" really means. After 14 years of marriage, he's starting to learn to trust me and let me in. He never really knew the innocence of childhood, so who could blame him if he was impatient with the quirks of young children?

But when our daughter was born five (almost six) years ago, I watched the most amazing transformation. I watched a man who had been completely alone all his life -- even in his adopted family, even in our marriage -- fall completely in love with our baby. From the very beginning, he was wrapped around her little finger. He was stunned by the protective feelings he had for her, by the delight he would feel just by watching her coo.

She was the only person in the world that he knew that was "flesh of his flesh."

And then our son came along, about two years later. And I watched him fall in love all over again.

Today, he is one of the best fathers I know. (And that's saying a lot, since my Dad did an incredible job raising me and my three siblings. We grew up in a virtual cocoon of love and protection, where we were stretched and strengthened and known.) My husband is the star of our family. Our kids think he is the biggest goof ever. ("I told you he was funny," our daughter shrieked to her kindergarten class when my husband put on small sunglasses.) When they hear the garage door go up on the days he's coming home, they shout, "Dad's here!" and they run for the door and throw their little bodies at his.

Our daughter recently started wearing dresses, because my husband said they looked so nice on her, and every time she puts one on, she runs to get his approval. "Do you think I'm beautiful, Daddy?" And he gets down and gives her a big hug and says, "You are beautiful, Natalie."

And our son, who is three, loves to wrestle with Dad and race Dad and explore outside with Dad. He delights in beating him in a game. (In our house, Dad always loses.) They have their own catchphrases.

"Dude, you rock." "No, Dad, you rock."

"Dude, you're a stud." "No, Dad. I not a stud. I Connor."

And "Shell. Noggin. Dude." (From "Finding Nemo," a favorite in our house.)

I'm so proud of my husband and the father he is to our children. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job.
And because it wouldn't be a Father's Day without me including a picture of me and my own father, here's one circa 1972. Love you, Dad. Thanks for building a foundation of God for me. On it, I stand strong.


  1. What a beautiful story of adoption and redemption! What a faithful God!

  2. Kelly,

    Our church is on the edge of an amazing ministry starting up - we've been hearing a sermon series on Adopt(ED). It has been amazing to hear what we as Christians need to do with our faith and reach out to the orphans of the world. Our pastor has encouraged all of us to be open-minded about being involved in adoption, somehow. And you wouldn't believe the number of things I'm running across daily, like this post, that are just confirming the fact that we are on the cusp of something Big - something GODSIZED - about how we're going to be involved. Stay tuned...

  3. I came over from Julie's. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Love the pix of you and your Dad, too. I posted one of my Dad and my 2 sisters :)

    For Reluctant Entertainers

  4. I adopted an older child (age 2), and he had some adjustment issues as well. Your story gives precious hope to the steadfast truth of how God redeems the wasted years. Truly beautiful.

  5. What a deeply touching post, Kelly. Wow. I am reeling from the meat of it.

    Two things in particular touched me deeply.

    1. She was the only person in the world that he knew that was "flesh of his flesh."

    That statement is so deep and profound to me. I am still letting it sink into my soul.

    2. That at your house you were "known". What a hugely important task as parents. To not just nurture, care for, and entertain our children - but to truly KNOW them. And isn't that probably the one thing we all want the most in this world in truth? To be truly known by someone. Again, the depth is amazing.

    This may be my favorite post by you ever.


  6. What a beautiful family you have! Your kids are just adorable! And it's so cute that your girl wants Daddy's approval!

    Thanks again for stopping by!

    An Island Life

  7. Great tribute to your husband and dad. Thanks for sharing.

  8. This is the most beautiful thing...I'd not heard your hubbies story but WOW - I have chill bumps...If that is not evidence God can redeem any life, I don't know what is...

    What a blessed woman you are! :))


  9. What an amazing & fitting tribute!

    Powerful story of how God works in our lives!

  10. Oh how my heart rejoices for your husband's discovery. While my own childhood story does not include an orphan status, I understand the pain of not being wanted and left to find my own way in life. I understand the joy, the healing, that a child can bring to a once, broken heart. It is for this reason that I am so glad that you have paid such a high tribute to your husband. Yes, God is a God of miracles.....and He is faithful to give us all the desires of our heart.

    I have been touched by his story. God shows us His love in the everyday matters of life...doesn't He! What an amazing love story!