Alabama and LSU rematch.
From Shanghai, China we spent the first full day with our daughter on the day (morning in China) of the BCS Championship Game. The game kicked off at 7:30 P.M. Central Time in the United States. That's 9:30 A.M. in China. This isn't like Breakfast at Wimbeldon. It's bigger. MUCH bigger.
I was so excited when I found out the first day I would wake up as a father would be the day Alabama plays its biggest game in two years. The weight of the world is on Nick Saban and Crimson Tide's shoulders. The weight of my 15-month old daughter is on mine. Mine is heavier. MUCH heavier.
I'm really not sure how I'm going to see the game. Do I really even care? Of course I care about the game, but now everything revolves around this little girl that just changed my wife and I's Facebook status from a "married couple" to "parents." Is there such a thing as that? If not, get Mark Zuckerberg phone. See what you can do.
I thought about walking around Shanghai asking on what channel I could find the BCS Championship Game. I'm not sure how that would look, but it would be pretty funny to see the expressions. I am almost certain it wouldn't look much different than people around the city of Nashville asking what channel the Predators game is on. I just think the people of China wouldn't look as confused as the "Local Listing Inept of Nashville Television Viewers."
Bama got the crystal ball and the redeemed itself. Just two months ago, the 'Tide appeared to have lost all hope at holding that crystal ball reserved for the BCS Champion. Sometimes life imitates sports, but the realities of life are heavier. Much heavier.
On September 23 my dad and I headed for Tuscaloosa for the Arkansas game. The trip became a little more hectic the previous day when my wife and I received a call from the adoption agency saying they had a seven-month old little girl they wanted us to consider adopting. We had started the adoption process three long years ago. All of sudden, here we were with a call from the agency
We were waiting on additional medical info from the agency about a week later when we were asked to call the agency. "The medical info is here," we thought. Everything is moving so quickly, but if this is what God wants us to do, then we are going to do it. "Are we ready for this?" we would ask. Everything was so surreal.
I do high school football play-by-play and it was a Friday so I hurried home from job in Nashville -- a 45-minute drive -- so we could make the call together. I figured I could make the call and get on the road. It was the longest drive of the season.
The meaning of surreal changed exponentially within ten minutes. The medical records never came. The only thing we had was news from the orphanage in China that the little girl we thought God wanted us to have had died unexpectedly.
I had thought about the two-hour drive to LaFayette, Tennessee all day. Looking back, I think it took two hours to get up from the chair I was in and walk. My wife is so much stronger than me in these situations. I was a wreck before we even hung up the phone.
I called my broadcast partner and asked him if he could go solo that night. I told him I had stomach issues. I didn't have the heart to tell him the reason. My wife and felt as if we had been punched in the gut.
We are lucky that both sides of our families live within 20 minutes of each other. We drove my parents' home first and told them the news. We then drove to her parents' home and did the same thing. It was the worst visit we'd ever made to the two places that we called home growing up. However, the fact that we could go to our "homes" as refuge helped.
People may ask how I can compare football with a moment like this. I ask why not. Why not use anything God gives us to understand why things happen in life. Sure, losing a football game is not as big as losing what you thought may be your child, but the outline of the stories are the same. Something bad happens. You don't like it. You either sulk in the sadness or you gain perspective.
As perspective became clearer, we realized that the little girl that we never met was special. Just because we never held her or talked to her didn't mean we weren't connected. God wanted to open our hearts and he did that. Between the three of us, she got the better end of the deal. She will be taken care of for eternity. God decided he needed her more than we did.
We decided it would be best to just wait until the first of the year before we decided what we would do. We had waited three years, what was a few more months?
Our social worker called 10 days later asking how we were doing. We lied and said we were OK. She then said, "Your agency has another child they'd like you to consider." We thought she was off her rocker. Never. We aren't ready.
Did we deserve this? What happens if something awful happens again? Then we thought, what if nothing awful happens again? We decided we would look at the picture of the child and see if we had the heart to take the next step. She was 10 months old in the photos they emailed. Her smile was God's way of saying it's OK to smile again and it's OK move on so quickly.
"People time" is so much different than "God time." I assume God doesn't really have a timeframe on when it's acceptable to allow your heart to be mended. This little girl was a miracle worker. She had no idea we existed, but it was as if she knew the photo that was being taken was exclusively for us. Not because she wanted home, but because we wanted to believe again. She's already the smartest child ever and we don't even have a name for her yet. We knew this was right. She had to be ours.
All of this took place in a two-week time period. It felt like two years.
Before we knew it, two months had passed and we were ready to travel. I wasn't certain the 'Tide could play this game without me being here. Moments before boarding the plane from Newark to Beijing I read Alabama beat writer Izzy Gould one last time, but there was no mention of the game being postponed until late January. They were going to have to win this thing without me. My wife and I were taking advantage of our second chance. I hoped the 'Tide would take advantage of theirs.
IF THEY LOSE GO WITH THIS>.......................
Here's where the outlines may look the same, but the outcomes are different. Not every story has a happy ending. Then again, unbeknownst to the person living it, the story may not be over.
IF THEY WIN GO WITH THIS--------------------
We got Emily. Based on the soreness of my arms, she's heavier than she appears.
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