The Mystery of Fatherhood
As an adopting father, I have a unique relationship with my child. Until I had my son, being pro-life for me was a kind of abstraction.
Timothy P. O’Malley is the director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, associate professional specialist in the department of theology at the University of Notre Dame, and founding editor of Church Life Journal.
As an adopting father, I have a unique relationship with my child. While many babies bond with their mother through late night breastfeeding, as adopting parents, my wife and I split this nightly vigil. From his earliest days in the hospital where our son was in intensive care for a week or so, I would arrive at 2:00 AM to feed and care for our newborn.
I will always remember the first moment that my son looked into my eyes. It was during one of these feedings. I was holding him while he slept, engaged in a rousing game of Solitaire on my phone. Our son’s penetrating eyes (at the time seemingly full of all colors and none at once) looked into my own face, calling me away from the screen.
In this encounter, I did not see just a generic life. But, this very particular life. I saw, my Thomas. This life calling out to me for tenderness. This person, placing the fullness of his trust in me, that I would protect him as best as I could. That I would love him.
In the years since this moment, I have spent many days with my son, sharing this gaze.
In the midst of stomach bugs, I have seen the longing in his eyes, his desire that I might erase the terrifying nausea that has overcome him.
I have seen the way that he wants to be recognized when I come home from work, calling out “Daddy, home,” when I open the door to our house in the evening.
I have seen a twinkle in his eyes as he slowly learns to use words to understand the world around him.
I have seen the way that he looks at his mother with infinite love, delighting in her presence in a way that he adores no other person.
I have always been pro-life. But, until I had my son, being pro-life for me was a kind of abstraction. It was holding general principals that all life mattered, that the life of the most vulnerable mattered the most: especially the unborn.
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