My mom never really talked about the hard times she had with me as a kid, but there was one story I remembered hearing her tell another young lady who had adopted a child, and that story’s always kind of stuck with me throughout the years.

When I was 3 days old, my parents came and picked me up. They were expecting to get a daughter in a few months but had received a last-minute call from the adoption worker saying that a young mom had chosen them as parents and that if willing, they could come pick their son up the next day.

This threw everything into chaos. First off, they were expecting a little girl. Secondly, they weren’t ready, and finally, this journey of adoption became a reality faster than their brains could catch up. But they made their way down, and the worker took my brother, who was eight at the time, to come and get me to bring me out to Mom and Dad.

This was huge for my brother; he is developmentally challenged and has cerebral palsy, and the whole idea of change has never been his strong suit. But to this day, 35 years later, Chris still talks about the day he was able to “get baby Cory.”

Things went great. I looked a bit like them. Family and friends celebrated. I was a healthy baby boy.

This brings me to the story my mom was telling this young lady. You see, in public and to everyone who knew us, all seemed like everything was so easy and that I just kind of fit in. But my mom was telling about the uncontrollable screaming and sadness that I would go through at night and how nothing she did or said would calm me down. I wasn’t hungry, didn’t need to be changed, and physically there was nothing wrong. So she would sit there and rock me singing and, I’m sure, crying along as well.

I say that because that’s what I’ve now experienced with my son. They talk about it in adoption education classes, but you are never ready for it when it happens.

When we got our little man he was just about to turn 1. He, too, was a healthy little boy, always smiling, always curious, and, honestly, just fit right in with our little family. But a few months after he had come into our family, he was just overcome with sadness. We checked his temp and did everything we knew to do, but physically, nothing was wrong. Then the tears came. In my time as a pastor, I’ve heard these cries before, when a loved one has been lost, when a marriage has broken down– those moments where sadness has overtaken and the only thing we can do is cry out.

So I sat there rocking my son and holding him to my chest as we cried together for hours upon hours. It was strange because I understood his pain– I had been there so many years before, and though I have no real memory of that time, it just made sense to me. He had to mourn his loss so that we could now move forward. We needed to go through that together so that we could truly bond. He and my wife were already connected, but it was in that moment and from that point on that I became Daddy. Not just a name on a piece of paper or the guy who pays the bills, but Daddy.

As my mom shared that story with the young lady, I share mine with you. Stick it out. Realize that you can’t and won’t always have the right answers, but you made the decision to be there, and you get to make that decision again every day.