On Being an Adoptive Dad

Submitted by PeterAKenny on April 10, 2018

My father, Dr. Jim Kenny, wrote the following piece on my brother and sister for this law blog.

As a mere male, I am not lucky enough to have the equipment to bear a child, and the satisfaction of giving birth. But fortunately, four of our children are adopted. Planning for and seeing my new child for the first time was my male birth experience. I vividly recall “The First Time Ever I Saw your Face.” (Roberta Flach’s hit folk song from the seventies)

Tracy was eight months old when she joined us from the Children’s Home in Germany. We were driving home on the autobahn in our VW beetle from Friedrichshafen to Wiesbaden. We were alone in a blinding blizzard. I was trying to keep my eyes peeled to the road while constantly looking to my right to see our new daughter snuggled tightly in Mary’s lap.

We flew to Quebec City to greet and collect our second daughter. Annie, our new eight-month-old, was sitting in a high chair inside the nursery. I rapped on the nursery window. She rewarded me with an endearing wide-mouth smile which she still flashes 49 years later.

Sharon had been in four foster homes by age 15 months. Mary and I and ten smaller Kennys came to Catholic Charities in Gary to welcome her and take her home. I will never forget her standing there solemnly, holding her caseworker’s hand. Finally, she let go, raising her right arm and fist to give us the black power salute. What a beginning! Many years later, Sharon asked us for the date she was adopted, telling Mary: “I want to celebrate my re-birthday.”

We were taking turns holding four-month-old Matt in church on a weekend trial visit. With us in the pew were our seven sons. In the reading that day, we heard that Samuel was sent by God to the house of Jesse to select a new king to replace Saul. Jesse had seven sons. One by one, Samuel met with them and remained unsatisfied. Finally, he asked if Jesse had any other sons. Jesse pondered, then mentioned a rather insignificant offspring who was out tending the sheep. He was told to summon the outsider, and in walked David, the famous and future king of Israel. I got chills. What a beginning! His name is Matthew David Kenny. Years later, Matt would compare his adoption to winning the lottery.

Our youngest granddaughter was adopted from Indiana foster care at age 6. She has a favorite book which she asks to have read to her over and over. It bears a title which well describes what being an adoptive dad means for me: “I‘ll love you forever. I’ll love you for always. As long as I’m living, my child you’ll be.”

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