September 14

For decades I have selfishly signed up for September 14 as my day to pray for children as soon as the signup sheets appeared in our church. I have, of course prayed for children on the other days of the vigil, but I’ve made a public show of claiming September 14 as my day. It is the birthday of our daughter and although she is an adult with a wonderfully lively 14-month-old son, she will always be our child.

I’ve shared her story in my journal and other places over the years and don’t want to be repetitious, but here is part of what makes this day so special for me. I didn’t meet our daughter on Wednesday, September 14, the day of her birth. I didn’t even know she had been born. I wasn’t even in the state where she was born, even though it was my home state. I was in Berkeley, California with my wife and our 2 1/2 year-old-son. We were coming to the end of an extended study leave and preparing for a drive across 5 states home. We had a cassette tape of the soundtrack to the musical “A Chorus Line” that was a favorite of our son and we played the overture to that play over and over on that trip of nearly 1,500 miles. Our little car wasn’t equipped with air conditioning, but our spirits were high.

Meanwhile, in Grand Forks, in the northeast corner of North Dakota a child was giving birth to a child. Through a set of circumstances and a series of decisions that we will never fully know the young mother released her infant for adoption. In North Dakota at that time that meant that the records of the birth would be sealed by the court when the adoption was finalized because the birth mother was a minor. Adoption laws have since changed, but that was the way it was in those days.

I met the baby four weeks later. On October 11, we received a call from The Village Family Service Center. Although we knew we were nearing the top of the waiting list for a special needs adoption, we hadn’t expected them to call asking us to consider adopting an infant. There wasn’t much hesitation on our part. We agreed. “Also,” the social worker said, “Could you pick her up before noon tomorrow? It has been four weeks since she was born.” Although we lived in North Dakota, we were at the opposite corner of the state. Grand Forks was 425 miles away. We were intrepid travelers. We’d just made a 1,500 mile trip with our son in his car seat. We made a few calls, changed a few plans, borrowed a few baby clothes, and got on the road.

There are no words to describe our meeting. No matter how many times I have tried to tell the story, I have always failed to capture the intensity of feeling that we experienced. The best way that I have found is to simply say that I absolutely believe in love at first sight. When the social worker handed me that bundle of pink dress with a tiny girl inside, I knew that our lives had changed forever.

That night, after having completed the arrangements with the agency, stopped to pick up some formula, diapers and other necessary baby supplies, and driven 275 miles towards home, we stopped at a motel to rest. I was too excited to sleep. I kept getting out of bed and going over to the infant in the crib just to make sure that she was OK. That night, the night between October 12 and 13, I prayed for her health, for her happiness, for her protection. I promised God and myself that I would always protect her.

Always protect is easier said than done. She grew into her own person. She learned to make her own decisions. And there were times when she was sad and lonely and wondering about her life. There were times when I wasn’t in the same place where she was. She has turned out to be an adventurer. She has lived with her husband in England and in Missouri and now they live in Japan. It has taught me a lot about the transcendent power of God’s love. Not only do I believe in love at first sight, I know that you can be absolutely, completely in love with someone who isn’t even on the same continent as you.

Ever since 1983, September 14 has been a day of celebration for me. God’s gifts come in many different ways, but one of the most incredible gifts of my life came in the form of a tiny baby and the grace with which she was given to our family.

God of Grace and Glory, how precious is your gift of a baby! How wondrously made is each infant! How incredible it is that we all come into this world vulnerable and in need of care! How fortunate that we are given the opportunity to care for others! We are overwhelmed with joy that you have called us to be parents.

Thank you also for the systems that allow for the care of children whose parents are not able to provide that care. Hospitals and agencies and foster parents and support systems have been put into place to provide the love and nurture that children need. We come to you with thanks and praise for the times when these systems work, when the placements are just right, when families are made whole through adoption. We give thanks for the legislators and lawyers and judges who have invested careful thought and created systems that allow adoption to occur and provide for children.

Today we pray for all of your children. May they know the security of a loving home. May they receive the food and protection that they need. Keep them safe from he many dangers of this world. Grant them your peace.

In the name of the baby in the manger we pray for babies everywhere. Amen.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!