This I Believe

John - Loveland, Colorado
Entered on August 8, 2006

This I Believe

I believe in persistence, guttin’ it out, or what my dad would call: stick-to-it-ive-ness.

Eleven years ago our son was born three months premature. Part of the deal was a tour of the NICU, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Twelve seconds into the tour, I was done. Twelve weeks later we were still there. I can recall many things from that experience: Silly yellow hospital gowns; the doctor explaining brain bleeds; and night time.

Night time was the most difficult. As my wife lay sleeping, exhausted from her own recovery, and my son lay restlessly among coils of tubes, plastic, and wires, I laid awake. The echo of freight trains frequently pounded my head and the streetlight blazed like the equator sun. It would have been easy to get up, pull on some pants, walk out the door and down the alley. It would have been easy to never again walk through the metallic doors of the NICU. What was harder was getting up in the morning knowing that another day would be filled with respirators, nurses, and blood draws. What was harder, was letting my son hold my finger while a nurse pricked his heel and I checked his monitor to see if he was OK.

A couple years later we decided to adopt. Our son wanted brother or sister and we wanted another child in the house. While the arrival of our second son was different than the first, I can recall many things from this experience too: Our first parents’ meeting where hopeful moms and dads wore the blank expression of complete defeat; opening our home to unannounced inspections; and social workers interviewing our two-year-old to make sure we were fit parents.

Three months into what we thought would be a five year wait, we got the call. Our social worker said one of his colleagues had a baby for us to meet. The next words out of his mouth were “How do you feel about high-risk adoptions?” It would have been easy to say “Not good, we’ll catch the next one”. It would have been easy to let some other wanna-be parents deal with a team of lawyers, prenatal drug exposure, and personal threats. What was harder was extending a trembling hand to a beautiful four-month-old. What was harder, was offering the comfort of a warm lap and an easy smile.

On my desk at work sits a green and white felt gnome made by a curly-headed kindergartner. I often hold it while I talk on the phone. On our living room wall hangs the “House of Love”, a small felt picture made by a kindergartner we used to call “munchkin”.

The nightlight that showed me the way to the place where I find joy in the felt work of kindergartners was the steady glow of persistence.

I believe in what my dad would call stick-to-it-ive-ness, I believe in guttin’ it out, I believe in persistence.