Our story starts off quite simple. I met my bride at band camp in the hot and sticky summer of 1988. Even though I had feelings for her from first sight, me and Tammy started off our life together simply as friends first. That first year of high school was just as normal as any high school student would have seen back in the eighties. We went to school every day, we struggled with acne and hormones, we went to football games, and we rode in the back of smelly school buses. Our classes were the typical math and science, english and geography, chemistry and biology, and home economics. We carried around a five-pound bag of flour for weeks to simulate a new born baby while at the same time, we dissected earth worms and frogs in biology class.
We dated all through high school and college for just over eight years before getting married in May of 1997. Financially speaking, we became way over our heads very quickly in our first year of being married. We over spent on things like furniture, jewelry, computers, televisions, and various electronics. The running joke about me back then was if you were looking to buy some new electronics like a DVD player, wait thirty to sixty days until after I had bought it and guaranteed it would be on sale. One would think, having both grown up in very modest families, that we would have learned the value of the dollar. We were stupid those first three years of our marriage. Fast forward to today and you would not have recognized the Jackie and Tammy from 1999.
Our passion for children, well at least my passion, really did not begin until we got back into church in 2007. With the passing of my eldest sister, I made things right with God and we got back into church after having turned away from Him for almost four years. We had been married for ten years when we both woke up and realized that we had been putting off children.
Our journey to make a family did not start until 2007 but really did not take into full swing until 2009 when we started looking into adoption. I had had prostate surgery in 2006 so by 2010 and Tammy’s hysterectomy, our ability to have our own biological child had been rendered impossible.
We dabbled around a bit in the international adoption programs until one day we were approached by someone at Tammy’s office with the prospect of adopting a new born baby, which was due in May 2011. Tammy had just gotten back to work after her surgery when this opportunity landed in our lap. We were excited and scared at the same time. Still in the international program, the thought of having a new born made my bride giddy – which made me happy as well.
On January 29th, we learned that the biological mother of the baby had been taken to the hospital. She was to be put on bed rest because of her low embryonic fluid and would need to spend a few days at the hospital. Up until this point, we had been giving this young girl some Christian guidance. We had been helping her with transportation to and from her doctor’s appointments and we also got to see the baby via ultrasound. The decision for us to adopt the child was still uncertain but we were still cautiously optimistic.
On February 1st, 2011, Alec was born. At almost three months premature, Alec was extremely small and was considered a micro preemie weighting only one pound and six ounces. He was so tiny that if we had been allowed to hold him, Alec would have fit in the palm of my small hands. His frail little body would shake and quiver to which we were told was normal since his nervous system was still developing. His body looked almost translucent at times yet he had a very dark spot on his distended tummy. His arms and legs were smaller around than a number 2 lead pencil while his head was not much bigger than a tennis ball.
The adoption was still not a certainty until the evening of February 11th when we received a call from the biological mother, who had just been released from the hospital. She asked us if we were to adopt her son, would we allow her to see him. She asked us that even if he would not be healthy would we still want to adopt him. We both said YES!
Over the course of the next month, we worked with our adoption agency to get everything setup. Since we were in the international program, we had to end that and switch into the domestic program. Surprisingly, the domestic program was simpler and nearly everything from the international transferred over. During this time, we also took the birth parents, nearly every night, to the hospital to visit with Alec. On March 3rd, Tammy took the birth parents to the adoption agency for them to sign the papers. One week later, on March 10th, Alec became Jacob – our forever child.
Over the next fifty-seven days, me and Tammy loved on this child just the same as any biological parent would their own. We still picked up the biological parents whenever they wanted to go and see Jacob but me and Tammy were there every day never missing a single one. My job allows for me to work from home every day so occasionally my home office would become the waiting room at the hospital.
Unconditional love of a child who is not of your blood is amazing. Before seeing Jacob for the first time, I had often wondered what it would be like. Could I love an adopted child the same as if he was from my own flesh and blood? Would I ever see him as anything other than my own child? God created us all to love so loving Jacob came very natural to me. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
The purpose of my book is simple. I hope to provide some guidance on the adoption process and perhaps some tips along the way. In doing so, my prayer is that my words will not discourage anyone from adoption. The process is not for the faint of heart and can be very challenging, even more so, daunting. However, the rewards in the end far outweigh those challenges. Whatever you do, never lose sight of God. He will guide your path and though we only had Jacob for fifty-seven days, those days will be remembered and cherished all the days of our lives here on earth.
Ever since our adoption journey began, my prayer has been that if I would just be half the dad to my child that my dad was to me, everything would be OK. I hope my dad would have been proud of the dad that I turned out to be.
Until we meet again, my son. I love you Jacob Evans Barker.