After living with us most of her life, our adoption hadn’t yet been finalized. Her birth mother, an addict fresh from her second stint in prison, changed her mind and refused to proceed. There was nothing we could do. No way could we protest. We could engage in a long and torturous legal battle, but in the end – we knew we would lose. And, Lexi would be the one to suffer most from the ordeal.
I still see the look on her face; the hurt in her eyes on the morning I left her in what would be her new home. It’s a deeply painful memory for me. Her soulful expression seemed to say she knew exactly what was about to happen and it is something I will never forget no matter how hard I try.
I returned home – numb, and arrived to a house that was empty and dead. If you have ever known the love of a child and lost it, you can understand that anything else you try to preoccupy your mind with seems selfish and trivial.
This experience nearly destroyed us. The good news is that it didn’t. Somewhere, Alex and I found the strength to realize one truth: we were not good parents. We were GREAT parents.
And, while Lexi was beyond our ability to help, there were thousands of other children like her that needed parents like us. There were children that we actually COULD help. We came to this realization four months after losing Lexi, and bittersweet, we made the announcement to our friends: We would be parents again.
Not more than 15 hours after making that very announcement, a miracle happened. My cell phone rang. It was Lexi’s birth mother. She had made a terrible mistake and now repentant, knew Lexi belonged with us.
Her plea that we rescue Lexi from her started a fast track journey of lawyers, legal documents, notaries and courtrooms – but in the end – we were parents. Legally and officially, we were the fathers of our beautiful baby girl returned to us – Our, Lexi. And no one had better dare try to take her away again without a bloody fight.
My point to this story is this: sometimes our pain seems so insurmountable that we cannot move through it. We cannot move through it because we allow it to block alternative views from our vision. In our case, we thought we would never be parents again. Then, we realized the only thing holding us back was our ‘single-view’ focus on our pain, our loss. We couldn’t see anything else.
When you think you have nothing to be grateful for, it can all seem hopeless. But, experiencing pain and loss is what it means to be human. The advantage is that being human also means you are capable of unimaginable resilience and joy. And when you can finally look away from your heartache, you will find many opportunities to apply your resilience toward a new hope and fulfilling joy.
If you are in pain and need help, find a trusted friend, family member, clergy member or therapist. Or, feel free to contact me. I can refer you to a professional that can help you deal with debilitating issues and get you refocused on living instead of stagnation.
After all, it’s your life – and it’s meant to be enjoyed.
John Aaron Villarreal
Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!
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