It had been a wonderful day. We were all tired after hiking Grandfather Mountain and stopping on the way home to picnic beside a pristine North Carolina creek. Bedtime preparation was proceeding amazingly well. All that mountain air and country cooking were a "natural sedative" for our two pleasantly exhausted children. I was looking forward to joining my husband, Dan, on the front porch swing to gaze at the stars and dream of what might be.

Danna, our 4-year-old daughter, was out like a light. One down and one to go. Our 7-year-old son, Jered, scrambled into bed, ready to recap our hiking adventure as well as make plans for tomorrow. We snuggled under the fluffy down comforter, talking and laughing about how much fun the day had been, then settled into a cozy, comfortable silence. I love being a mom!

His question ripped through the still, silent night and my heart, exposing every fear and insecurity carefully buried there. "Why didn't she want me?" Jered softly asked. I knew immediately what he meant and whom he was questioning. 

After years of trying to have babies naturally Dan and I discovered that God had a wonderfully different plan for us. We adopted both Jered and Danna as infants and marveled daily at the precious gifts of our two children. I knew that this question would inevitably come but was still caught off guard by Jered's probing words. My unprepared heart cried out to my Father. I needed an answer - for Jered - and for me. Instantly, it came. Bruno!

When Jered was 4 years old, we were given a chocolate colored Labrador puppy that quickly outgrew our small yard, our not-so-understanding neighbors and our apprehensive children. We named this gentle giant Bruno.

With each passing day, Bruno became an increasingly frustrated dog. Our postage stamp sized back yard offered little freedom or room for him to romp.Our elderly neighbors did not appreciate his early morning barking alarm and both children refused to venture into the back yard because Bruno, who loved them and wanted to play, would pin them to the ground with his massive paws. It soon became clear to all of us that we were not the right family for Bruno. 

After an intensive search, we discovered "Adopt a Pet," a remarkable organization that finds homes for animals whose owners, for one reason or another, cannot keep them. We were promised that Bruno would be placed in a home where he would be loved, well cared for and have plenty of room to run and play. 

We talked and explained, struggling our way to the difficult decision that it was time to put Bruno up for adoption. Still, on the day they came to pick up Bruno, we all cried! Yes, we knew that it was the best plan for Bruno - for us - and for a very excited family that had been searching for a Labrador. But it still hurt. Sometimes, doing the right thing - the best thing - the highest thing - is the most painful thing.

As I looked into the beautiful, blue eyes of the little boy that I loved more than life itself, I prayed for just the right words. "Jered, do you remember Bruno?" At the memory of the dog, Jered smiled and sadly whispered, "I still miss him." I nodded in agreement and replied, "I know, son. But do you remember why we gave Bruno away?"

Jered thought for a moment and carefully answered, "Because we loved him so much and we knew we couldn't take care of him right ... and because he wasn't very happy ... and because we wanted the best home in the whole wide world for him."

I paused for a moment, basking in the simple and faithful wisdom of my Father, spoken through the heart of my only son. Now I was ready to answer his unsettling question. "She did want you, honey. And she did love you ... so much, in fact, that she was willing to give you away, just like we gave Bruno away. Just as we wanted what was best for Bruno, your birth mother wanted what was best for you!" 

Now I fully recognize that it was an extremely simple illustration for a profoundly complex life circumstance - but it was enough.  We talked for a few more minutes and then prayed together for every family member, right down to the cousins.