Twenty-six years ago I was engaged to one of the most beautiful girls I had ever known. It was no secret she was out of my league. In fact, the only reason I asked her out was because my girlfriend had suggested that we should date other people. I asked Amy out to make my girlfriend jealous. It worked.
At first I was attracted to my future wife for the same reason that every other heterosexual male on the planet would have been. But it soon became apparent that there was far more to this woman than I had realized. The reason I ended up engaged and eventually married to her had nothing to do with her outer beauty.
Amy wasn’t looking to get married just because she saw that as the next point of progression in her life. She had a plan to build a dream family. My wife grew up in an abusive home with a prescription addicted mother who didn’t leave her bedroom for weeks at a time. Her father was such a notorious stalker that according to her mother, he was a suspect in Utah murders that were later attributed to Ted Bundy.
My wife felt cheated by God and by life in general.
Amy entered foster care at the age of fifteen, where foster parents used her to raise the younger foster children while they partied. Amy knew what kind of a family she didn’t want. Long after we were married, my wife told me she had been distraught that she had never had the family she saw so many others with. In fact, she said that she was very jealous of such families. When she went into foster care, she hoped it would be the fulfillment of her dream. It wasn’t. My wife felt cheated by God and by life in general.
At some point during that time in her life, a novel idea entered into Amy’s mind. In her own words she said, “I realized that I could have the family of my dreams; I just wouldn’t be the child in that family.” My future wife set out to engineer and build her dream family. She started by working on what she thought the perfect mother should be. She worked on improving every aspect of her character that she believed didn’t fit. Years after we were married, I saw a list that she made long before we met, of over a hundred characteristics that the ideal father in a dream family would have. When I saw it I laughed and asked how she could have married me with the shortcomings I had in some of those areas. She told me that I had “potential” in those areas.
You would have been hard-pressed to argue
that Amy hadn’t created a dream family.
Over the course of the first four years of our marriage we added three perfectly healthy little boys to our home. We had been fortunate in building our own business and it provided us with income that allowed her to be the stay-at-home mom she wanted to be. We had a house with a fenced yard in a safe and friendly neighborhood. You would have been hard-pressed to argue that Amy hadn’t created a dream family.
Amy and I still saw our family lacking something we had always wanted. We didn’t have daughters and we could no longer get children biologically. Eventually, we adopted four children including three from Russia, which added two little girls to our family. That was a lot of work but Amy’s dream home and family was doing what she had built it to do. That’s when everything changed.
My wife’s dream family was one where no one would ever be abused.
We found out that our new daughters had teenaged sisters that we hadn’t been told about. As we searched for those girls and information about them, we soon learned of horrific tragedies and troubled teens with behaviors that matched their histories, through no fault of their own.
My wife’s dream family was one where no one would ever be abused. Adding the two teenaged siblings from Russia (with one who had violent tendencies) would almost certainly violate the perfection with which our family had been blessed in that area.
We were perplexed. Still, we knew if only by statistics, what would happen if we didn’t bring those older siblings into our family. If we adopted those older children, odds were that abuse would enter our home. The alternative was probably death. Life expectancy for an orphan aging out of a Russian orphanage was about thirty. Ten percent off them committed suicide the first year out of the orphanage. That was only a year away for the oldest sibling. And with her disorders and other challenges, there just wasn’t much hope for her aside from being adopted into our family.
What would have happened if God had withheld
His Son because others would abuse him?
It became apparent to Amy that her dream needed to change. Her dream home needed to be one that provided an opportunity to children who had even less of a chance that she did at a similar age. Still, Amy’s dream wasn’t just for her. It was for her children; and to give up part of her dream that was focused on their happiness was heartrending. But as she processed this information she says that she came to the realization that her family was doing exactly what it was supposed to do.
Eventually, a question posed itself in the minds of my wife and me. What would have happened if God had withheld His Son because others would abuse him?
We can no longer say that abuse has never happened in our home. But we can say that when Amy’s dream needed to change for the greater good, it did. Everyone is safe, now. Our oldest daughter is twenty-two. She lives in a group home and we are still very involved with her. She is an important and valued member of our family and she is loved by all of us. But now she is in a place where she gets the specialized help that she needs.
You know, I hear of people who lay down their lives for others. Many picture a man in a river, passing the lifeline to a peer, or someone shoving a child out of the way of a speeding car only to take the hit themselves. I think of my wife. She quietly lays down her life a day at a time while making sure that she gives a chance at a good family life to everyone that she can.
My wife will never be on the cover of a glamour magazine (though at one point she could have been). That’s of little consequence because I need to tell you; she is far more beautiful on the inside than she ever was on the outside.
More blog articles by John M. Simmons about Disorders/Mental Illness