Bill Harrington

We sometimes, maybe more times than we recall or deserve, receive blessings.

When I was in the Navy school at Balboa Naval Hospital, I dated a young woman. One day I met her 6 month old son, Steve. He had been in foster care for 3 months. His natural father had broken both of his arms and a leg. His smile took my heart. He couldn’t go down to bed at night, he would scream and scream. I had to walk him until he fell asleep.

I ended up marrying that young woman but she wouldn’t let me adopt Steve. His natural father went to prison and was banned from ever seeing his son.

Steve finally settled down and could go to bed. I think the turning point was when he shook his crib so hard that the rail dropped and he ended up on the floor on his back.

A year and a half later my wife decided to leave with another man. She was waitressing and met him there. I was going to lose Steve. I didn’t think I could sink so low.

She called me at work at the Dispensary and said if I wanted Steve I had to pick him up now! I was to be on duty for the next 24 hours. One fellow corpsman, without hesitation, offered to take my duty. I picked Steve up.

My estranged wife saw Steve infrequently. I started the divorce but had to stop because if I divorced her before I adopted him I wouldn’t have any right to him. She did agree to go with me to San Bernadino to adopt Steve. Then I could divorce her. She kept holding Steve over my head if I didn’t do things her way. I was stressed.

I started going to church again. It had been a big part of my life. I thought I should seek counseling. I filled out one of those cards that was in the pew. I did it twice. Someone in the church I didn’t know came up to me one day and said the pastor didn’t see anyone; he just did Sunday services. 

The visitations became less and less frequent. My enlistment was up and I found a job in Pharmaceutical Sales back east. So, I left with Steve and we settled near my parents. I got Steve when he was two and he was almost four when we moved back east. 

I don’t know what would have happened to Steve without him in our lives. It wasn’t easy. He needed counseling. We sent him when he was young. We had him go to church and Sunday school every week. He went to scouts and became an Eagle. He is my son.

I eventually got remarried to a wonderful woman who loved Steve as her own. He was 7 1/2 when we had our first baby. A little girl. My wife used to say we had one homemade and one readymade. 

Sometimes Steve would get a birthday card from his mother, but not always. She called a few times. When he was 10 we agreed to send him out for a visit, the first since he was 3 1/2. Steve called and said he wanted to stay and didn’t love me anymore.

I flew out to pick up Steve. I was conflicted, I prayed and prayed hoping to get some guidance. A good friend was picking me up from the airport, but was also picking up another friend of his, a psychologist for the Minneapolis schools. The drive to San Diego from Las Vegas was very long. I told him my story and said I was going to let Steve make the decision. He laid into me with both barrels, saying that I couldn’t let a 10 year old make that kind of decision. It would mess him up for life! I brought Steve home.

His mother was married again and had one stepchild and one together and one on the way. By the time her youngest was age 3 she left that husband with the 3 children and became a street person on drugs.

I sent Steve out for his graduation present to see his aunt and grandmother. He could see his mother but she lived in a VW van with her current boyfriend. He was to stay two weeks but wanted to come home after one.

I sent him out one last time. He was 22 and his mother had died.

I don’t know what would have happened to Steve without him in our lives. It wasn’t easy. He needed counseling. We sent him when he was young. We had him go to church and Sunday school every week. He went to scouts and became an Eagle. He is my son.

I know it was Divine intervention that brought Steve to me. He has been a blessing in my life. And he has taught me much along the way.

The value of a Christ centered life has never been clearer to me.

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