by Brian Tessier
There are only two things I ever wanted to be in this life, a husband and a father. Now, imagine watching men run for the next county when you tell them. To shorten a very long story, I decided to become a father as becoming a husband was proving much more difficult. I was beginning to think I had a better chance at pregnancy. So after a period of interviews and navigation through the complex legal and emotional process I got a call on the day before Thanksgiving 2004, telling me that there was a little boy who was two years old.
So begins the saga: In the initial visit with my son, I witnessed a child who was bright, smiled, yelled, stomped his feet and screamed. It was not that he could not talk, he would not talk. He had his own language, created in his mind to get his needs satisfied as a result of them not being met prior. I was told that he could only say 7 words, all in Spanish. I went to a corner on this initial visit and sat there with a book and a stuffed bear and waited. Ever so slowly, he approached me, would touch me and run away and giggle. Eventually, he sat in my lap and looked at me for a while, with his social worker, the foster mother and my adoption worker looking on he put his hand on my face and said “daddy.” This was not one of the words that he knew and it was not in Spanish…so it began.
We finalized the adoption in July of 2005, after paternity leave, teaching him to speak, potty training (I would gladly take any bar exam again to never have to potty train again) where he would sit on the toilet and sing and practice his words when he thought I was out of ear shot. I sat around the corner from the bathroom and cried as I listened to his words, imagination and person come alive. Now, we are deep in the threes and he talks constantly, questions everything and wakes each morning with “Love you, Daddy” and leaves me each night with what we call a “forever” hug, as he knows I will be his daddy forever. Every night my son picks a book to read. Recently he asked for a book with a mommy in it. You are never quite prepared to answer certain questions and despite all my best efforts to be as prepared as possible to counter the mind of a toddler, I am inevitably stumped at times.
We found a book with a mommy in it and climbed into his big boy bed to read. Once in bed, he asked me if he would have a mommy. With a lump in my throat and holding back tears, I stated that there are families out there who have mommies, daddies, and all various combinations but a family is about all the people who love you. My son started to recite all of the people who are in and who touch both his and my life…the list is rather long but I let him go on. He finished with, “All people.”
“Yes, all people,” I said. “Love me,” he said. “My family,” he stated. I held my son against my chest and he gave me a forever hug. I cried as I heard, “Love you daddy.”
I am sure this is not the last time I will be asked about this issue, but never did I think I would be asked about it at three. Knowing my son, had I not satisfied his need for an answer he would have pressed me for a better answer. However, in his mind his family is all the people who love him. There is much to be learned from children, I learn daily and for that I am thankful.
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