It was 2004 when my husband, Doyle, had a dream he will never forget.
In the dream he saw a tiny little girl, about two, with hair the color of a blackbird’s wing and eyes the shape of watermelon seeds. She was sitting on the back of a tractor trailer, in a red shirt, waving at him and smiling.
It was one of those high-voltage, wake-you-up-like-a-shot, vivid-with-a-V kinds of dreams. At the time we were in the process of adopting a daughter from South Korea, but we had yet to get our referral letter with a picture of our girl, born on the second to last day of 2004.
He didn’t know then that this girl in his dream was THE girl, that two or three years later he would look his daughter in the face and remember with shocking clarity that she was the girl in his dream.
It was like God said, ‘Here she is, Daddy. She’s coming to you someday. She will be yours and she will be mine.”
My rational, Baptist, feet-on-the-ground husband is always the one with the dreams like that, dreams of those coming from Heaven and living there now. (He also had a dream of my dad in Heaven, on his way to a donut shop, grinning, happy, and whole…)
Apparently, Doyle is not the only adoptive dad with such dreams. Luke, the daddy of Kai, Aria, Beckett and Carys, dreamed of his Ethiopian daughter before she came to him, says his wife, Janine:
“While we were waiting for our referral, Luke had a dream that Carys was born on June 24. The baby in the dream was exactly her! She wasn’t born until Sept 27th, but we passed court and she legally became our daughter on June 24 the following year!”
God still speaks in dreams, like He did with Joseph in ancient days. Can I get a witness?
Here’s what I think: Sometimes, God, the ultimate adopting Father, stirs the hearts of his chosen sons, the ones He has tapped to be a father to the (mostly) fatherless. He plants dreams in their hearts of the children He has chosen for them, before the sun, moon, and stars were circling their orbits. To me, God is saying something like this:
“I am this little one’s forever Father, but for her time on earth, you will be her human father. You will be her real dad.”
Honest to goodness, people say this to me all the time. “Your real dad…” Or “Phoebe’s real dad…”
It’s even less of a true use of the word “real” than when they say “real mom.” Most birth moms love their children, relinquished at birth or later, for a variety of reasons. But not all birth dads do. Not all birth dads even know about the children they fathered.
Now, I do know a few loving, caring birth fathers, but they are rare. One statistic I heard once said it all: Of the 2000-some reunions initiated by birth parents in a large Michigan county’s post-adoption services, only two of them were spurred by birth fathers. Two.
But I’m not here to bash birth fathers, some of whom may be keenly feeling the loss of their children this Father’s Day.
I want to celebrate REAL dads, in this case, adoptive dads. Other writers can put their keystrokes towards feting stepdads or just plain old Dad-dads, but I want to highlight the beauty and strength of adoptive dads.
One of the very finest adoptive dads from literature is one of my favorite characters, period. Matthew Cuthbert, of course, the painfully shy, stoic, humble potato farmer from Prince Edward Island who found himself surprised by grace, shocked by father-love, flabbergasted by Anne of Green Gables.
In my memoir, which braids my “orphan” story with that of my Korean girl’s and our mutual orphan friend, Anne with an E, I write about Matthew and other real dads who changed my life and the life of my girl.
“Anne, Phoebe and I–we are the lucky ones, loved by fathers who were not obliged by blood to care but did anyway.”
With that, please enjoy this gallery of photos of real dads, fathers who were not obliged by blood to care but did anyway. Each and every one is a picture of our adopting Heavenly Father, our Abba, who pronounces us His sons and daughters, for now and all time.
How about some Real Grandpa shots? It wouldn’t be a proper Father’s Day tribute without those:
And, just because, here are my two best-loved onscreen adoptive dads (Matthew, of course, is from the book Anne of Green Gables, which every human being should read or reread! He’s also onscreen in several worthy adaptations. BTW, my “Who played it best” Matthew blog will come next week…), Matthew Cuthbert and Jack Pearson!
Well, I don’t know about you but I needed wads of Kleenex to write this blog and post all these photos of these wonderful, dear, loving, realest of the REAL dads. Happy Father’s Day to ALL the Real Dads!
I’d love to hear about your real dad. What did you love about him? What do you miss, if he’s not around anymore?