It really was a picture perfect moment. It was Ari’s third birthday this weekend, and there we sat, my wife and kids, my mother in law, and my daughter’s father.
Yeah, you read that right.
A little over a year ago he and I had our first face to face conversation. We talked about Ari and I told him how much our family loved her. I promised him that day that if he would stay clean and clear, doing his dead level best to make the best possible choices, that she would always know him, that he could be part of her life. We shook hands, and we’ve both kept our word. A couple weeks later he did one of the hardest things I think any father could do, he surrendered his rights as her biological father in hopes that we could adopt her and give her the best life possible.
Now, we talk or text at least once a week. We worship together at the same church. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He made some bad choices in the past and he’s had to deal with the consequences. But his head is on straight now. He’s walking a good path and it’s so cool to walk that path with him. I truly consider him a brother. Our family, Ari included, calls him “uncle.”
As good as it all sounds, sometimes I find myself facing a bit of an internal struggle. I truly am glad that we have invited him into our world but that reality comes with some challenges.
He IS my daughter’s father.
He was there when she was born.
He held her in his arms first.
She bears his likeness.
God gave her to him, first.
I’m sure the struggle is real for him too. It must be. I’m sure he thinks about the same things. Sometimes I wrestle with lots of “what if” questions:
What if one day she chooses him over me?
What if she loves him more?
This whole pretty picture comes with a huge risk. Risk of rejection, risk of great emotional hurt down the road. For me, for her, for him, for my family – for all of us.
In reality its the same sort of risk that God takes on all of us, though. He loves us, but He risks rejection – from all of us. Many people have rejected Him. I can’t even imagine the pain He feels, still He takes the risk, over and over and over again.
And so will I.
She may prefer her biological father over me someday. She may feel a closer bond to him. I hope not. But I have one real task in front of me, where she is concerned – to love no matter the risk. To love her, so that in my love she may experience the love of God who, after all, IS my daughter’s Father.