Showing posts with label Drake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Drake. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2017

Figuring it out

Look at that enormous Sloat head. 
I'm typing this from the doctor's office. We're here for a checkup on Isaac, making sure he's growing like he should and hoping he won't be covering his face for the next ultrasound. 

I'm about to be brutally honest with you, and I hope you can forgive me for it. 

I don't want four kids. 

Up until this morning, I have been dreading Isaac's arrival, I've been worrying about my money, my time, and the fact that I've got three adopted children who might grow up holding a grudge against our sole biological child. 

Akeeli, Aven, and Drake, if you're reading this, I need you to know I never loved you any less than Isaac. Not for one second. I know you can't help feeling like you might feel, but listen: I love you more than you could ever imagine. I love you so much I'd die for you. 

On the way to Tulsa this today, I had to drop my truck off in Wagoner to get the oil changed. This is in no way a sponsored post, but the guys at Kevin Grover are seriously the best, and one in particular slapped me in the face with some truth this morning. 

He walked over to me, and I spent some time trying to figure out if I was looking at his smile or the sun. That's Neil being Neil though. I've never thought of him as car salesman, he's a friend who happens to be exceptionally skilled at getting me to spend huge sums of money on things with four wheels. 

My son weighs 2.6 pounds today. He's grown tremendously in the last two weeks. 

We're sitting in the lab now, waiting on blood to be drawn. In fact, I'm almost positive Alicia is actually reading what I type as I type it. She's talking about how much Isaac has grown over the past couple of weeks, and saying that he better slow down. I think she's finally realizing that when you have a giant for a husband, his kids might be huge too. I don't know, maybe just my head is giant. 

Back to Neil. He came over and shook my hand. 

"Two things to congratulate you for, Travis. One, you look fantastic, and two, your newest little one!" 

Everyone always does that. If they're familiar with our situation at all, they're so excited for us; for me. I get that, and I'm thankful for the empathy, but up until today, it was a forced smile, forced enthusiasm. So I smiled back at him, and I gave my prototypical response. 

"Aww, thanks! Be excited for her though, I don't want four kids." 

Neil didn't even blink. 

"Oh stop that, Travis. You've created an eternal soul." 

I'm alone now, Alicia has gone back to have her blood drawn, and I'm fighting tears as I type this. It's me and one old lady in the waiting room, and I don't need her wondering why the behemoth four chairs down is blubbering quietly into his cell phone. 

We've created an eternal soul. 

My son is an eternal soul. 

Isaac is an eternal soul. 

Somewhere in my brain a switch flipped. I took a couple of confused steps and finally spit out a response. 

"Thank you, Neil. I've never looked at it like that." 

"I'll leave you guys alone, I know you've got a busy day planned!" 

He bounced away, frustratingly happy, unaware of the chaos he'd just wreaked in my brain. Unaware of his creating a tectonic shift in the pangean plate that is my selfishness. 

You see, that's all it is, selfishness. One thing I've discovered since having children is that I am, by nature, a selfish person. I didn't realize that until after we'd adopted the kids, but it's true. I am a selfish person. I want my time, my money, my stuff, my wife. I, I, I, I. 

I'm not saying all that changed instantly. I know somewhere between now and the next eighteen years, I'm going to be selfish. But I was given a new way to look at things today. I have four eternal souls that I am now responsible for. Five and six if you count mine and my wife's, and that's a whole lot of souls to be in charge of. 

My dad figured it out. I don't know how, but he figured it out. Reading his writings from when I was a kid, I know he was frustrated, unsure of himself as a father, and selfish. But at some point he cracked the code. He figured it out, and he took responsibility for the eternal souls he'd helped create, and he did a damn fine job of it. 

Now I'm back at the doctor's office, waiting for my beautiful wife and my son to come back from getting a shot, which is apparently what you have to do when your husband's blood (A+), has a higher GPA than yours (A-). We'll leave here and go pick up two other sons and a daughter, all of which are mine

Today is a new day. Today I was verbally slapped by a friend who has obviously figured some of it out. 

Thanks, Neil. 

Here she comes. Gotta go. I'm gonna try figure it out. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

04AN022E-001




"Travis have you talked to your wife?" 
"Yes." 
"Was she upset?" 
"She was, very." 
"Well I'm going to need you to call her back. You'll never guess what happened." 

***

This story has been a long time in coming, and after spending a week away from technology and clearing my head, I felt like I was finally ready to tell it.

Then, this morning, as I was walking across the church parking lot, bathed in the voices of worshippers headed to their cars, I heard a voice cut through it all.

"DADDY!"

There must have been ten kids hollering for their fathers, but I recognized that voice. I turned, and he was smiling at me, head full of curly red hair bouncing as he struggled to get away from mom and run my direction. That cemented the decision to write.

This is a story about 04AN022E-001.

Of course, you might know him as Drake.

***

Hopefully, if you're reading this blog, you're all caught up on our family situation at the Sloat house. If you aren't, I'll give you the short version, and then you can click here and see all the stories. 

My wife and I have adopted three children. These children all share the same biological mother. We adopted the first two, Aven and Akeeli, earlier, then got a phone call about Drake, the youngest. We finalized on him earlier in the year, and changed his first name to Greyson, although we still call him Drake. 

Many of you read the blog I wrote when Drake was born. Of course I didn't know his name, I just knew that my two children suddenly had a brother, and my wife and I were faced with the decision of "What to tell the kids." How do you let them know they have a brother they'll never meet? 

We did the best we could. Our children grasp things fairly quickly, possibly as a result of so much change in their lives. They've never had the luxury of having many abstract thoughts, reality struck them much too harshly, much too early on. They accepted this brother without much emotional involvement, kind of an "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy. A philosophy that didn't come easily to Alicia and I. 

Then of course we got the call. 

Drake had been taken by the state, and he'd be coming to see us. Foster care, possible adoption. I hate the term foster care, but no matter, the kids were finally going to get to see their younger brother. 

Then we got the email. 

"We've found a kinship placement, he won't be coming to see you." 

There are certain words, when strung together in a certain order, change your life forever. Being notified of the death of a child or loved one, a relationship ending, or sitting in a doctor's office as he uses the word "terminal." Certain words in a certain order can proclaim worse fates than death. 

So we cried. 

A few months later, we got a call. 

"The kinship placement didn't work out. Can you meet us to pick him up?" 

So we cried. And we drove. 

I will never forget that drive home. I will never forget strapping that curly-headed monster into his car seat, I will never forget Aven and Akeeli calling him "bubba," and I will never forget when Drake pointed at me as we were driving down the road and said, "Dad!" 

And thus our lives were changed. 


***

We got still yet another call. 

"Travis, the biological mom won't terminate her parental rights. We know you have a way with words, can you write her a letter letting her know Drake is in good hands?" 

I have written stories about murders, tragedies, and love. I have written a commencement speech. I have written cover letters and resumes, and I have written numerous blogs to convey important points to my readers. 

None have ever come close to the importance of the letter I wrote to her. 

After reading the letter, she decided to terminate, but was fearful of the biological father's more stubborn attitude about relinquishing. He is in prison, but had said he would not terminate. She didn't want Drake to go back to him, and we understood her fear. 

And so we waited. 

***

We got still yet another call. 

"Alicia, the biological father is refusing to terminate. He has court on this date, and we're going to try to get the judge to terminate then, but technically he can have some time to try and accomplish the things required to get Drake back. He has said that he will not give up his rights." 

So we cried. And we prayed. And we enjoyed our time with Drake, dancing on the razor's edge of hope, hanging on to the truth proclaimed in God's Word that all things work together for the good of those who trust Him, and that if God is for us, no one can be against us. 

Finally the court date came. 

Alicia and I waited nervously by our phones, and kept refreshing our email inboxes, waiting for the news, dreading the appearance of certain words and the order they might be put in.

Finally the email came. Through tears, Alicia told me that the biological father had refused to terminate, and the judge had not granted the state's request to terminate. Through tears, I told her that things would be okay, there's no way any judge in the world would give a child back to a man in prison for the crimes he was in for. 

Alicia said she was going to call the social worker for clarification on a few things. Things did not get any better after that call, which prompted me to call the social worker and ask a few questions of my own.

"How can they consider handing him back to that man after what he's done?"

"Well, it's a jury trial, and they might convince the jury that he's a great person except for that one night when he made one bad decision, or they might say that a child this young needs his biological father since the mother gave him up." 

"I just don't see how anyone would ever see it that way." 

"Stranger things have happened. We'll see how it goes." 

I hung up, crying, and called Alicia. 

I told her everything, told her God was still in control, and I hung up the phone. 

About ten seconds later it rang again. It was the social worker. 

"Travis have you talked to your wife?" 
"Yes." 
"Was she upset?" 
"She was, very." 
"Well I'm going to need you to call her back. You'll never guess what happened." 
"What happened?" 
"He was walking out of the courtroom, stopped, turned around and looked at us and said he was ready to relinquish. Said he wanted one more visit, but he'd sign him over immediately." 

I hung up, crying, and called Alicia.

I would not even begin to guess the amount of phone calls made since the telephone was invented. But I can say with complete authority that none of them has ever made anyone happier than that phone call at that time.

We finalized on March 30. As the social worker was having us sign all the paperwork, I saw a number across the top: 04AN022E-001. Drake's number.

I snapped a picture. "One day I'll blog about this."

Oh and the visit? It never happened. He decided he didn't want to see him after all.

***

It's not all been roses and amazing phone calls since that day. In fact, about an hour ago, I had to spank him for not laying down and taking a nap. Right now, as I'm proofreading this blog, we just discovered he's had a relapse on his potty training and has pooped his pants. He can be insufferable.  

He is hard-headed, has a will of iron, and can be as immovable as only red-headed children can. 

He is handsome, has a million-dollar smile that makes you feel like the best dad in the world when he gives it to you, and can turn a simple word like "Daddy!" into something that can take my spirit from the lowest depths to the highest peaks. 

He just turned three. He looks so much like me that people constantly tell me, "You can't deny that one." I look at Alicia, and we just laugh. He's officially spent more of his life with us than anywhere else. He's a holy terror to his older brother, and a real-life baby doll to his older sister. He loves Mickey Mouse, nachos, and milk at bedtime. He has nightmares that are painful to witness at 3 a.m. He drives me crazy because he won't eat when he's supposed to, and he doesn't always like to tell me goodnight, which cuts me deeper than anything, and I just pretend it doesn't. 

He's my son. He's a Sloat. 

***

One day, I'll get to meet Jesus. 

I have a lot of questions for Him. 

But I think the one I'll ask first, the one that will be on the tip of my tongue before I even get to the throne, will be what made that man change his mind on the way out of the courtroom that day. 

I believe in miracles. I also believe in science. I know there's a chemical in the brain that made him change his mind, and I know that God is in charge of that chemical and every other aspect of our lives. But I've got to know. I've got to know how He did it. 

In the meantime, I'm satisfied with the fact that God took an impossible situation, named it 04AN022E-001, and entrusted him to our care for the next fifteen years. I'll do my best, and when things seems impossible again, I'll remember that God is big, and we are His. 

The boy who lived.