FIRST PERSON | KEN DAIGLE
My husband JD Schramm and I have been on the most amazing journey of our lives: the journey to fatherhood.
We decided to become parents to a child — or children — who needed us and what we have to offer. That decision has stretched us beyond our limits and has limited us in ways we could not have expected. Yet each and every painful or joyful step has brought us to a place of peace, a place of joy and a place of surrender.
In February 2014, we were asked by a young pregnant woman to raise her son because she knew she could not. We flew down to Houston the day before her scheduled c-section. When the baby was born, we held him, fed him and changed his diaper as we waited for him to be released from the hospital. My congregation in San Francisco was so excited for JD and me that they were calling the office all day long. So we decided to blog about the experience and post daily updates and pictures on our Facebook page and in the church newsletter.
On the third day, the birth mother changed her mind and told us that, with the help of her own mother, she was going to raise her son herself. As we packed to leave Houston, I sat down to write my congregation and our followers on Facebook. I told them how much it hurt, but that we were holding to principle: Our good, our happiness, our well-being does not come at the cost of someone else’s happiness or peace of mind.
Less than a week later, we received a phone call from Sandra, a woman from Bakersfield, who told us she had read our story online and that she and her husband wanted to conceive and place their child with us. After chatting on the phone for weeks, we met the couple and their beautiful children and asked the same questions over and over again: “Can you really place a child you carry with us? What would your parents say?” One by one, they assuaged our fears and won us over. We encouraged them to have as much sex as possible.
JD and I also decided that while we waited to see if Sandra got pregnant, we would continue to pursue foster adoption. We knew there were many children in foster care — 40,000 in California alone.
I went to the social services agency that had approved us, and trained us, to look through the stacks and stacks of children waiting to be adopted. As I narrowed the search down to a dozen children, one kept popping off the page. The picture of him was adorable: 15 years old, standing on top of some rock, on top of some hill, in a muscle shirt and flexing, looking as if he had not a care in the world. Yet I knew that had to be far from the truth.
The social workers asked us to be certain before they would introduce us to him. They also reported that despite everything he had been through, “He still dreams of being adopted and to have a forever family.” By the end of that meeting, although we had not spoken the word to each other, JD and I knew we were going to say “yes.”
Our son moved into our house on October 14, 2014, two days after his 16th birthday.
I often say the good you are looking for is already in your life, or is already looking for you. That wonderful and beautiful family in Bakersfield was already in our lives, following us as friends on Facebook, but we didn’t know it. That child on top of the rock flexing his muscles, who today is our 17-year-old son, was looking for a family.
About a month after our son moved in, Sandra called to let us know she was one month pregnant. The week we became parents of our son, our daughter was conceived. On July 12, 2015, JD and I were in the hospital room when our daughter was born; JD cut the cord and I was the first to hold and feed Roma. This month, Tobias’s adoption was finalized and we are learning each day just how to be a family.
We could not have scripted this adventure if we had tried.
Ken Daigle is the spiritual leader and chief executive officer of Unity SF at 2222 Bush Street.
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