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TITLE: Welcome Home, John
By Lyn Ruth

This is a true story about adoption. It is told from the father's point of view.
My wife and I had only one child, Mary, an adorable daughter who could be any parent's pride and joy. Our hearts broke whenever we had to say goodbye to our teary-eyed little 4-year-old each morning as we left for work. We just tried to console ourselves that with my mother taking care of her, and with the other kids of her age in the neighborhood who she could play with, she would not really feel sad about our absence. But during the weekends and everytime we were at home, Mary literally got all our attention. Our daughter was just so charming that we seemed never to get enough of her. Our friends sometimes said that we tended to be too protective about our only child.

It never transpired in my mind to adopt a child who could be Mary's sibling. So I was surprised when my wife told me that she had been thinking about it for some time. However, I remained reserved about the issue of adoption. I was not sure if there was enough room in my heart to love another child, especially one that was not my own. Regardless of what my perspective was, I soon gave in to my wife's desire because I just wanted her to be happy.

The baby boy came from an orphanage in a big city. When my wife and I and Mary visited him there for the first time, we immediately saw how Mary was quite taken by the baby's big smile. She tiptoed and tried to hold the baby's hand. And then we heard her call him "John". That was it! Our baby boy's name was John. Now I realized that Mary was really part of the decision why we decided to make this adoption. She loved John from the very first time she laid eyes on him and was looking forward to having him home.

We were then living in a small town and John was 3 months old when my wife and I finally brought him home. The legal process was never a secret but it was a bit exasperating. We had to prepare a lot of documents and we went through some nasty interviews and court proceedings. We were like suspects under interrogation, although my wife and I were aware that this was all for the welfare of John. The authorities wanted to make sure that the people who wanted to adopt him had good morals and were indeed fit to be his parents.

John was about 6 years old when I read him a book about adoption. It was a children's book that explained well to an innocent child's mind just what adoption really meant. John must have understood it well when he said, "Adoption means someone else gave birth to you and someone else brought you up." Very simple. The book assured him that it was okay to be adopted. But suddenly, John asked the why question. Why did my real mother give me up for adoption? I was not ready for this, not from a six-year-old! It was a good thing my wife entered the room at that very moment. She had heard the question and had a ready answer for it. She simply said, "Your Mom loves you so much. She had a difficult time giving you up but she had to because it was impossible to continue taking care of you." I was glad John did not pursue it further. He accepted the reason with that same sweet smile that had always beguiled us.

The years went by and John rapidly grew up to be a wonderful person. He and Mary were very fond of each other, just like a brother and a sister should be. I knew there were still a lot of unanswered questions that John wanted to ask, but at that time, he seemed busy with school and other activities. He had a very nice relationship with his mother. He also knew that I would always be there for him. We pursued many common hobbies like fishing and swimming.

One day, I asked John if he wanted to visit the orphanage where he came from. I noticed that he was not ready when he did not answer. Meantime, John already had many opportunities to interact with adopted children of other families. He had seen the self-confidence of these kids knowing that they were loved by the families they belonged to.

Someday, I would like John to know his biological parents. John owes his life to them and he should be thankful for that. Somehow I feel that there is a mother out there who longs to see her son again. I would like her to see the kind of man John turned out to be... a fine, educated, well-mannered and compassionate being. His mother would be very proud of him.

But I know that John really belongs to us. I will always look back on that tender moment so many years ago when we whispered into baby John's little pink ears, "Welcome home, John."
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