January 3rd, 2018.... Gotcha day.
A day that will be celebrated for years to come. In a court of law surrounded by our family and friends, you legally became ours. Nothing changed in our lives, other than the fact we won't have extra people in our homes periodically. We knew from the moment we met you that you were ours. You have been our son all along.
It was a beautiful day though. It was so good to see your name on paper... Reid Samuel Tomlin. What is in a name anyways? Why is a name so important? I remember in the weeks leading up to bringing you home from the hospital, we were discussing what we would name you. We loved the name Reid so that was a must. We tossed around many other ideas, but Samuel kept coming up. When I looked up the meaning I knew that was it. Samuel means "God has heard". Cue the tears. Yes baby, God has heard. God has not only heard but He in all his sovereignty has answered. He orchestrated every single event that has happen in the last year. So what's in a name? A name is that which you are called. A name will follow you around your entire life. A name identifies you.
The whole idea of adoption is absolutely beautiful for so many reasons, but most of all, my son, you have now been given a new name. Reid Samuel Tomlin. On January 3rd, the State of Texas recognized what we already knew, but from now on you have a new name. What a modern day picture of the gospel.
"And you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give." Isaiah 62:2.
For all who believe in Jesus, we are given a new name. Sin is gone. It is finished. In that moment the judge signed the decree, you were given a new name. Generations of sin in your life were immediately broken. You were rescued and redeemed. And God chose us to raise you and love you forever. How lucky are we? How blessed are we that we get to be apart of such a miracle?
Countless times we have heard, "Oh he is such a lucky boy". But you know what, we are actually the lucky ones. The Lord has used Reid to change our hearts. The Lord broke us in places we needed to be broken, but just as he is physically healing Reid's heart, he is healing ours as well. Just as Dr. Mendeloff repaired and sewed Reid's heart together, the Lord is repairing ours. We are not who we were a year ago. The journey has not been easy at all, but walking in the path of obedience never is. The beauty and joy we have found in this journey is irreplaceable. Having Reid has taught us to appreciate the simple things. How sweet it is to have your entire family under one roof around the dinner table or sleeping under one roof at night. There were many nights spent in the hospital over the last year longing to all be together again at home.
As difficult as the journey has been, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Reid has overtaken a place in my heart that I never knew existed. To say I am in love is an understatement. I was worried that the love I had for him would be different or not as much as the children I already had. But I was most certainly wrong. The love I have for this sweet boy is almost suffocating at times. The way I see Emma and Will talk and play with him. The way I see Cory hold him and talk to him. It's truly a glimpse of the Father's love for us. No way anyone can ever comprehend the depth of the love God has for us. But this season has surely given me a taste of it.
Reid has so much happiness and joy in his heart. He truly is the best baby. He totally missed the memo that he has a serious heart condition. He is happy all the time. His sweet disposition and cheesy grin will melt your heart in seconds. He has ever reason to have bitterness or anger about the cards he has been dealt. But he doesn't. Reid has truly taught us how to have joy. Reid has shown us joy is not found in man or in circumstances of this life. Reid has shown us how to have joy in suffering.
Walking in obedience to what the Lord called upon us was not easy, but it was so worth it. We never imagined we would be foster parents and adopt a child with serious medical needs. In fact one of my biggest fears in life was that I would lose my child. Now that is very much as possibility at any time. The Lord has been so gracious in giving us the best village to support us in this journey. We couldn't have made it without them.
After Reid's heart surgery in August, I went back to work. Part of my job is counseling mothers and fathers on their babies heart disease. Most of these are women pregnant with a baby that has a heart condition. I have been doing this for years and there's no telling how many women I have counseled. Probably hundreds. The one thing I would close with every time was "I can tell you anything you want to know about the heart, surgery or the hospital, but I can't tell you what it's like for it to be my own child." God surely has a sense of humor. Now I can.
Now I can not only share my knowledge and expertise on congenital heart disease but I can share my experience with being the parent of a child with major congential heart disease. I see the same reaction on parent's face every time we break the news to them that the baby they are having has a broken heart. Devastation, fear, worry, anger, sadness. While I did not carry Reid, I have walked the rest of the journey with him. I have watched him be rolled away for procedures wondering if he will survive. I have cried at his hospital bedside wishing I could take the pain away from him. I have mourned the fact that his journey is not over and he will never know a life without a broken heart. But then the Lord in his graciousness reminds me that neither will I.
You see all our hearts are broken. All our hearts ache and long for something this world can't give us. No surgeon will ever be able to completely "fix" Reid's heart, but neither can mine. Or yours. Thankfully for those of us who believe in Jesus have been adopted into his family. He has given us a new name. A name that breaks the stronghold of sin in our lives. We get a second chance at life.
See my friends, we aren't so different after all. The Lord redeems all things. Nothing in this life is meaningless. The Lord continues to fight for us and pursue us. The Lord has broken us and is quietly and patiently putting us back together until one day he will call us home and make all things new.
This is my story. My story may look a little different, but at the end of the day, it's not. My story is no different than Reid's story nor any different than your story. We are all in need of a Savior. We all have the opportunity to be adopted into a kingdom where we will forever worship the name above all names. Jesus.
Our story continues. I don't know what this new chapter will hold for our family. We live one day at a time. But one thing I do know is the Lord will never leave us. He promises us that. My heart, just like Reid's is being remade one day at a time. The Lord is making us more like Jesus every day. He is clearing out the ugly and making something beautiful.
I pray that our journey will encourage and inspire you to live outside the boundaries you've set for your life. I pray that our story will encourage that mother and father who are not able to have children of their own and have considered adoption. I pray that our story will encourage those parents that have received the life-changing news that their baby isn't perfect. I pray that through our story people will see hope and choose life for their child. I pray that people will be encouraged. I pray people will see the joy that comes not of this world but from the only One who can give it. Jesus. The author and perfector of our faith. Suffering in this life is guaranteed, but there is joy in suffering. There is hope not only for our journey, but for yours. Every single day Jesus, it's all for you.