The first part of this story was written in late April, 2000...
Our little Michael Scott was born on Thursday, April 6th. He was
9 pounds and 22 inches long. On Saturday, Michael came home with
mom, dad, and big brother (3 1/2 year old) Allan on Saturday.
A little less than two weeks later, on Tuesday, April 18th, I received
a call from the adoption agency.
Michael's birthparents had changed their minds.
We had to return the baby to them.
While waiting for Barb to get home (she was out for the evening
when the call came), I told Allan the sad news. I was surprised,
and shaken, at his strong reaction. He started to cry then
yelled "no!" as he ran to his room and slammed the door.
The rest of Tuesday and all day Wednesday was like a long on-going
nightmare. Barb and I were both in a state of shock. Tears flowed
easily, but with God's grace, we seemed to alternate in our worst
moments of despair so we could at least try to comfort each other
through the trying times.
We got up early on Thursday morning, and put as much of the baby
things away as we could so it wouldn't be out upon our return. Then
we loaded the van for the long drive to Southfield. We stopped at
the home of our friends Mike (Michael's namesake) and Stacey, and
left Allan with them for a few hours, then we continued on to the
We arrived there at almost 10am, and had to warm a bottle and feed
Michael as soon as we arrived. Michael was so precious as Barb fed
him that last time. We cried, Barb first, me second, then together.
I held my little son one last time...then returned him to Barb's
arms before we walked to the room where the birthparents waited.
Barb told them a little about Michael's situation, his feeding
habits and schedule (already sleeping through the night, at two
weeks), and so on. Then I told Michael's birthparents some things
that I really felt I needed to share.
I said, "Barb and I aren't perfect, far from it, but you picked
us to be the adoptive parents of this little baby, because you thought
we would do a good job of taking care of him and raising him. I
think so too, but only because we each have a personal relationship
"I know that you have a lot of problems and that you have
some serious things to work out in your lives. The fact that you
want to fix those things is great, and we're very glad that you
want to, but without a good relationship with God, you are helpless
and very likely to fall right back into the same bad habits."
I told them that the only way to have a good relationship with
God was to take care of the sin that is in our life. The Bible says,
in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of
the glory of God." It is our sin that separates us from
God. In fact, because God is a just God, there is a penalty that
must be paid for sin. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of
sin is death." But fortunately for all of us, the verse
goes on to say, "but the gift of God is eternal life through
Jesus Christ our Lord."
That gift of God does not come through anything we do ourselves,
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of
works, lest any man should boast."
Then I told Michael's birthfather, "Sometime in the future,
when you're watching a football game with this little guy on TV,
you might see a sign in the stands that says 'John 3:16.' What that
verse says is very important. It says, 'For God so loved the
world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"
My voice broke when I got to "that he gave his only begotten
Son." God giving His Son to die for me was something that had
never before seemed so real. I know I did not give Michael back
for any noble reason. Certainly, I didn't want to do it.
I finished with a quick summary of God's plan. First, everyone
has sinned. Second, the penalty for sin is death. Third, God was
willing to send His Son to die for me and for YOU to pay that penalty.
And finally, that just accepting that free gift is all that is required
to obtain it.
I couldn't say any more. I was close to breaking down and sobbing.
Barb was close too, probably even closer that I was.
Throughout the conversation, Michael's birthfather did say that
he had started attending a nearby church. Michael's birthmother
was strangely silent for the most part. I suppose she didn't know
what to say anymore than we did.
Just before we got up from the table, I mentioned that the toy
in the bag that we were leaving was picked out by Allan for the
baby. Then we stood up and walked to the door. Barb took one last
look back at Michael, but I couldn't...I just faced forward and
walked through the doorway.
Michael had lived in our home less than two weeks.
After our talk with Michael's birthparents, and of course leaving
Michael with them, we went back to the other room and waited until
they left the building. A couple friends from the agency stayed
with us and offered their support and encouragement. We prayed and
we cried some more (I don't remember the last time I used so many
tissues). Finally we walked back to the van and drove North to pick
We spent the next few days on the road, enjoying some time together
trying to erase some of the horror of the last few days. During
the trip we started a new family tradition. We now pray, at Allan's
bedtime each night, for Michael - that he would learn and grow and
someday come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior. I am trusting
God that I will meet this boy in heaven some day and that I'll be
able to tell him that I couldn't raise him, as I'd hoped, but that
I DID pray for him every day... and I will.
Even now, looking back over the events of those weeks, I am confused
about why all of this has happened. I don't know why God has caused
Barb and I and Allan and the rest of our family to endure such a
roller coaster of emotion. Going from the exultation of having a
new son and brother and having those thoughts dashed into something
that is almost like having a death in the family, is something I
never want anyone else to have to go through. I don't know why all
of this has taken place. I might never understand why this has happened
but maybe, just maybe it was because God wanted me to share that
message of salvation with Michael's birthparents. It was a message
that was painful to deliver, but without the adoption situation
I never would have met them and had the opportunity to share it
If you're reading this, and you've never accepted the free gift
of salvation that God has offered, I would encourage you to do so
too. I hope, someday, to hear a report that Michael's birthparents
and Michael made that choice. It would go a long way to making all
of this make some sense.
I John 5:11-13
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal
life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life;
and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things
have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of
God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may
believe on the name of the Son of God.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
You might say, "what a sad story about a 'failed adoption.'"
I would agree. This was a very sad time for our family. But God
doesn't make mistakes. This wasn't a "failed adoption"
at all. We just don't know why things turned out how they did. Someday
we will. For now, though, we just have to trust in the purpose that
God had and wait for (as I pray daily now) "the baby God does
want us to have in our family."
And now the rest of the story...
Our family was crushed by our loss of Michael. We had a number
of very bad days and for months afterwards, either Barb or I would
occasionally have a "Michael moment" and just need to
A few days after returning the little guy, we were finishing up
a parenting program called "Growing Kids God's Way" by
Growing Families International. That
night, we watched, a video tape entitled, "Memorials."
The tape is about prayer and faith and offers the suggestion that
we should keep something as a physical reminder of answered prayer.
Gary Ezzo's family (Gary is the teacher on the video) would put
their reminders in a shadow box in the hallway...so they could always
look at those things and remember how faith and prayer had allowed
God to work in their family members lives. In Gary's family,
his daughters would often say, when referring to something in the
shadow box, "Daddy can you tell me the story again, about when..."
and how his grandchildren ask, "Grandpa can you tell me the
story again, about..."
The tape had a powerful message at a point in my life where I wasn't
so sure I had much faith at all. Barb and I got halfway through
the tape and I just started to weep. We turned it off and I prayed,
asking God to give us our little boy back... or, if that wasn't
to be, to take away the hurt because we'd lost him. It was that
night that we decided not just to pray for Michael, that he would
be safe "where ever he is," but also that the Lord would
allow Michael to return to our family.
After a few more weeks had gone by, Barb decided that she was ready
to send a letter to Michael's birthparents. We knew they'd moved
to Florida, and they'd given us their address. Barb wrote, just
letting them know that we still cared, but we never heard back from
In late Summer, we got a phone call completely out of the blue.
Michael's Aunt called us! Michael's birthparents had moved back
to Michigan, and during the move, Michael's Aunt found the letter
that Barb had written weeks earlier with our phone number and decided
to let us know how things were.
As it turned out, things were not good. The baby was fine, but
the birthparents had slipped back into their old drug/alcohol habits.
Their relationship was almost completely destroyed. Michael was
being taken care of, on most days, by his grandmother.
A few weeks later, Michael's Aunt called us yet again to provide
another update. By now, the birthparents were rethinking the adoption
idea, but now they had some other couple in mind. We certainly were
not going to get Michael back.
Still, we prayed. With Allan we continued to pray that Michael
would be safe "where ever he is" and privately, so as
to not cause Allan any undue stress, I continued to pray that God
would allow Michael to come back to us.
In Late December, we got yet another phone call from Michael's
aunt. The adoption was imminent. The birthparents had decided that
they couldn't take care of the baby. Unfortunately, the couple that
was supposed to adopt the baby hadn't taken care of any of the paperwork
(the home study) to get started. The birthparents were desperate,
but had no where to turn. I told the Aunt (note, though, that we'd
not had any contact with the birthparents directly since the day
we returned Michael to them) that we would still love to have the
baby with us, and that we'd take him back in a heartbeat. She said
she would take that message back to them, but wasn't very hopeful
that they would agree. They were particularly upset that I'd "preached"
to them the day we returned the baby. Besides that, there was obviously
other "baggage" not the least of which was probably that
we were a stark reminder of their own perceived failure.
Two days later, around mid-morning, Michael's Aunt called again.
The birthparents had decided to give Michael back to us... if we
would still take him. That started a flurry of activity. We had
to get the adoption agency involved. The two birthparents were not
communicating, but still they had to coordinate this whole thing
(they both had paperwork to sign, etc.) Finally, a couple of hours
before the tentative meeting time, I took Allan to the home of some
friends while Barb took care of some last details at home, and then
we started the long drive to the agency. We had a two-hour-plus
journey in front of us in terrible, snowy conditions, and we weren't
even sure if they were going to show up with the baby. We prayed
a lot on that drive, believe me!
When we arrived at the agency, Michael's aunt was there, but there
was no sign of the birthparents. After a very long twenty minute
wait, the birthfather came in... but without the baby. He sat down
and started a very long, troubled explanation of what was happening.
After a few minutes, it became more and more clear that he was more
than just a little bit drunk. He eventually ended his statement
with, "I don't know if I'm going to do it to you again or not."
We took that to mean that he wasn't certain about the placement
and whether or not he would change his mind on us again.
We still told him that we would take the baby back. Finally, he
went outside to his truck, where he'd left the baby, and brought
the little guy in. The baby had been taken around to see extended
family all day long. He'd been bombarded with a day-long tear-fest
and he wasn't in any mood to deal with things at this point. He
just cried the entire time as we handled the transfer.
The birthfather stayed for forty-five minutes or so, but finally
decided that the birthmother (whom he'd been waiting for) was probably
trying to avoid him and would likely not show up until he departed.
As it turned out, he was right. Just a few minutes after he left,
the birthmother showed up. She wanted a little time with the baby,
so she had him for awhile in a separate room. Then, she signed the
paperwork and left the building.
Michael was back with us, but the situation was tenuous at best.
Michigan law allows birthparents to change their mind on temporary
placements for any reason whatsoever (as we were already painfully
aware). Not until their court appearance, when they agreed -- before
a judge -- to give up their parental rights would this thing be
Several weeks went by. Michael was doing well with us. His tears
were fewer and fewer... and he and Allan got along famously (although
we were careful to tell Allan only that "Michael was staying
with us for awhile.")
Finally, about five weeks after coming into our home for the second
time, we found out that a court date had been set. Now it was just
a waiting game.
It was about that time, just a few days before the court date,
that Michael, Allan and I had an interesting conversation. Michael
was crying, having a temper tantrum really, and I was telling him
that he couldn't have a temper tantrum, but he could cry and that
even daddies cry sometimes.
Then Allan said, "yeah, daddy, like when you and mommy had
to take Michael back."
Then a pause, and a bright smile, and finally, "daddy, is
THAT," now pointing to Michael, "MICHAEL?"
For the first time, Allan realized that it was the same baby. I
just nodded my head and smiled back.
The day before the court date arrived and we were blessed with
even more drama. Once again, the birthfather was uncertain of his
decision. He tried to negotiate visitation rights, phone call rights,
and finally an annual dinner just with us. He also insisted that
we leave Michael's name to the name that he'd given the baby. On
all points, we kindly and gently refused. We told him that we would
consider further contact after we've developed a better relationship
through letters sent though the agency in a semi-open fashion (as
the adoption was originally planned to be handled). Finally, he
backed down and we quickly spread the word among our family and
friends to pray like crazy.
The next day, again, the birthfather wavered. However, the Lord
took care of the situation and saw him through it. Both birthparents
terminated their rights.
After a twenty-one day appeal period, which is now over, the adoption
isn't yet final, but the rest of the process is a cakewalk compared
to what we've already experienced.
Without Gary Ezzo's message on "Memorials," we might
never have found the faith to pray for our little boy's return.
This has been a miraculous experience. Without doubt, it would never
have happened without God's grace and prayer!
Now for that shadow box for our front room...I'm thinking about
putting in our copy of "Memorials." Then we can look forward
to Michael saying, "daddy, can you tell me the story again
about when you watched Mr. Ezzo's tape and decided to pray that
God would let me come home?"
March 6, 2001
We received a letter in late August from our county juvenile court.
Michael's adoption was final! Of course, it was a done deal
for us a long time before then. It was just nice to have the
paperwork catch up with our hearts. :)