Ode to Joel.

Without going into too much detail, I will say that Father’s Day is always a little difficult for me. I have an estranged relationship with my father and haven’t had any verbal contact with him for over six years.Father’s Day was always difficult for me growing up, too. When I began doing my own shopping for gifts and cards, it was hard to find a card with just simply “Happy Father’s Day” on it. There were usually sentiments on the card that I didn’t understand or feel were applicable. I didn’t know what it meant to feel loved and adored by a father. I didn’t know what it meant to have a father to look up to — someone that I wanted to be like or wanted my husband to be like.

When I began dating for reals — not the silly relationships or dates but the ones where you actually begin to wonder, “Is he the one?” — my first criteria in a spouse was not whether or not he loved and adored me. It was whether or not he would love and adore our children. I didn’t know what that looked like — what qualities that meant he needed to have — because it was something I didn’t understand.

When I met Joel, I knew that he would love and adore our children. I fell in love with him almost instantly, and there was never a doubt in my mind that he would be a fantastic father.

Every day, he shows me what being a fantastic father looks like.

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In a very small way, I do think that my own relationship with my father prepared me to be an adoptive parent. In a very small way, I am able to understand the abandonment issues that come with being an orphan (a very small way — I cannot possibly understand Baby Boy’s loss as it is much more than my own). But I can recognize and prepare for the fact that grieving the loss of a relationship with a birth parent and dealing with rejection is a grief that ebbs and flows but never truly goes away. That the grief can hit you when you least expect it — even if you’ve gone for months without thinking about it.But my grief and the broken relationship with my birth father doesn’t define who I am. My relationship with my Savior does. My worth comes from Him. As does the worth of every child of God. After all, God is “A father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5).

I consider it one of the greatest blessings that my children are able to have what I did not. Even though there are times when I feel sadness over what I never had, the fact that my children know the love of  not just their heavenly Father, but also their earthly one, makes my heart overflow with happiness.

Happy Father’s Day out there — to the fathers and father figures. May your children always know your love, and the love of their Father in heaven through you.

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