In my almost fifty years of spinning around the sun, there have been many highs and many lows. We have all had bad days, months, or even years. Surely we can agree that the year 2020 will go down in history as one of those years — not the worse year ever but certainly an unpleasant one. This week’s musing touches on the subject of a book; one that I had started five years ago but never finished. Perhaps someday I will complete that project. Below is a snippet from that unpublished book Fifteen-Minute Father: A Story of Unconditional Adoption Love.
Life’s Highs and Lows
Throughout my life, most of my lowest of lows have centered around loss. Watching my mother leave the house one evening after brushing me aside has had a profound impact on my life. I have forgiven her and my parents did reconcile afterward. I also forgave the man who seduced her just as the bible instructs us to do.
Watching someone whom you love dearly die is a part of life’s journey however there is no question that the sting of death is very painful for those left to grieve. I watched my father and sister both take their last breath. Additionally, hearing of my mother’s death in her sleep was an extremely low point in my life.
Becoming a Father
For some reason, my wife and I were not able to have children. It is very strange to me why God did not give us the gift of children because as many of you know, we both love children. Only He knows the reason and perhaps someday when our faith becomes sight, we too will know.
Living in Wake Forest in 2010, Tammy and I were already in the international adoption program through a Christian Adoption Agency in Raleigh, NC. The process was long and tedious and frankly was not going very well. A friend and co-worker of Tammy introduced us to her friend, a 16-year-old pregnant girl, who was in need of some guidance. We met with her and just started talking and showing the love of Jesus to her.
After some time, on February 1st, 2021, this young girl gave birth to a little boy, a micro-premie weighing just 1.6 pounds. She named him Alec and was planning to keep him. This decision, while difficult for us, made us happy to know the birth mother had decided to choose life and also raise him herself. Alec would of course have to stay in the NICU for a while since he had been born about three months early.
A few weeks after his birth, she called us and asked us that even if Alec would be sick and have a difficult life, would we be interested in adopting him. Without a bit of hesitation, both me and Tammy said a resounding Yes! The next morning we contacted the adoption agency we had been working through to start the process. On March 4th, we met with the birth mother and father at the adoption agency to sign papers. And one week later, on March 11th, Alec officially was placed in our care as his legal guardian. We changed his name to Jacob.
My workday ended every day at 5 pm. I would rush down the stairs from my home office, grabbing my hospital go-bag as I ran out the door, and make my way as safely as possible to the hospital.
Arriving at the parking garage, this 300+ pound adoptive father would make the quick dash through the hospital halls to the NICU. Once there, I would have to scrub up similar to what a surgeon would do before going into the operating room. After being let into the NICU, I would then have those precious fifteen minutes of time with Jacob before the nurse’s shift change.
Sure, I could have taken my time after work and gone in to see him when Tammy arrived; she had a much longer drive. However, those fifteen minutes alone as Jacob’s father were important for me because they allowed for more bonding time.
In those fifteen minutes, Jacob and I did many things that a father and son would do. We watched together a few innings of the Cincinnati Reds on my iPad. I read stories to him from the Bible; Jacob was a very attentive listener. We sang songs; well I did the singing, while Jacob mostly just smirked. And we also did the smelly things too — changing diapers.
Being there near the end of the day shift afforded me the opportunity to assist with Jacob’s shift-ending assessment by the nurses. I helped to weigh him and check his temperature. And I helped to calculate the amount of milk he had taken and the amount of poo coming out the other end as well.
For two months, those fifteen minutes each day spent alone with Jacob were the best fifteen minutes of my life. I would not exchange that experience we had together for anything.
A Father’s Lowest of Lows
Over the next two months, we bathed him, fed him, and took care of him just as any parent would do for their child. Jacob remained in the NICU his entire life so our evenings and weekends were spent by his side. We had dreams of the future — a future in which we had already planned nearly every day in our minds. A future life we had hoped to have with him.
The absolute lowest point in my life came in the early morning hours of May 6th, 2011. Removing all of the tubes and wires connected to Jacob’s body, the nurses hand him over to me. His eyes were open and if I had God’s eyes, I believe I could have looked in to see his soul. Holding our adopted son, as he struggled to breathe, I proclaimed the gospel openly to anyone who could hear. Sharing the gospel was more for the nurses and for our family than it was for Jacob. For I knew in my heart that Jacob would pass from my arms and into the arms of Jesus.
Holding him tightly, we watched our son take his last breath. Holding him tightly, we felt his last heartbeat.
Watching our son take his last breath remains today the absolute hardest pain I have ever endured. In the three months of his life and the two months in our care, Jacob had become an integral part of our lives. And I hope that in those 3 months, Jacob lived his life knowing fully what it meant to be loved.
Abortion vs Adoption
If the recent leak out of Washington is true, the US Supreme Court is set to overturn the landmark decision of Roe vs Wade. This is but the first step towards putting an end to the senseless murder of children. Plain and simple, abortion ends a life for the sake of a choice. Additionally, abortion ends a dream of parents struggling with infertility.
If you are pregnant now and contemplating abortion, I implore you to please seek out help. There are 1000’s of organizations around the country that offer assistance to women where the choice of life is presented instead of abortion. One such organization here on the Outer Banks is Creative Choices Crisis Pregnancy Center. If you feel led to give, why not make a donation today in memory of Jacob Evans Barker.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.