My wife was waiting outside in our Camry, it was still raining and she looked none too pleased. She wasn’t outwardly angry until I complained about having to go to the bail bondsman’s office before going home (yes I’m THAT entitled douche). We went to Dog’s office to sign some paperwork essentially promising not to run away from home and join a non-extraditable circus…fair enough. We then headed for home quietly, in the rain.
All of this would’ve been bad enough but there was another problem, we had a daughter in China waiting to be adopted by my wife and I, and this could be the end of the entire process. This meant disappointing many people, and I had no doubt that I had let everyone I knew down. Once home I asked the question that had been plaguing me since I first laid eyes on the lights in my mirror. “Kristy”, I asked “what does this mean for our adoption of Ruby? Is it over?” “I think so”, she replied, her voice sounded like she had been contemplating this possibility all night, not angry, not bitter, but a sad resolute view of the possibility. We sat and cried for a while. I didn’t know what to do. I was locked in shame.
My friend Austin once told me, “sin is a son of a bitch”. He was talking about something else I was dealing with, in the interest of full disclosure, but he was right. However, I’ve determined that no matter how bad one feels about their mistakes it is grace that’s designed to break the heart of the proud. Shame sucks in terms of what it did to my pride, but the consistent message that, “I love you in spite of your shortcomings” was the thought that kept me up at night. The wave of grace started with my wife, and continued to come from every friend and family member who was made privy to the details of my latest faux pas. I was truly floored.
The next year of my life would be marked by a list of things I could do to make my wrongs right in the eyes of the legal system; I had been forgiven, but there was the question about whether or not I could be a responsible father hanging over my head. The first thing on my list was a visit to a lawyer’s office. I found a lawyer based upon a tip from my friend Anna, she gave Kristy a name, and I went with it. I walked into the lawyer’s office, we’ll call him “Ryan” (that’s what he told me to call him, I think he told me this because it is his name) the radio was tuned to 107.7 the end, there were car magazines lying on the table in the lobby area, he was dressed in a business casual style with the faint shadow of grease hiding in the cracks in his fingers and under his nails, and I felt comfortable. This, plus the fact I didn’t have much time to find a lawyer before my pre-trial hearing that afternoon, (DUIs on a holiday weekend, who knew) convinced me that Ryan was the lawyer for me. We went over some details and he told me he felt that we had an 80% chance to have all charges dismissed. Note of warning: it is my experience that mathematics, especially pertaining to the discipline of statistics, is not one of Ryan’s strong suits (this information may never help you, but if it does, great). For a lawyer, he was an alright guy. When we actually got around to the hearing to get the charges dismissed, it struck me that my chances were closer to 50/50; I was sitting there listening to the arguments and I couldn’t decide whether or not the charges should have been dropped. Long story short, the charges were not dropped; so we started preparing for the appeal which meant months of doing nothing…or so it seemed, it’s funny but given a long enough stretch of time something has a tendency to feel like nothing.
One of the things Ryan had me do as a show of good-faith was entering a drug and alcohol counseling program, which meant two group-counseling sessions a week and one meeting that requests to remain nameless (it likes its anonymity). The prospect of this seemed daunting and terrifying, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me, in terms of educating me about me. I am so thankful for the folks at Agape in Bremerton. Slowly I worked through all of the programs that were recommended while I waited for the day to come to appeal my verdict and have all the charges dropped.
As the day approached with all the enthusiasm of a three-toed sloth on methadone, it quickly became clear that I was not gonna walk. Every option had been carefully considered and all the ducks were lining up so that we would be able to move forward with the adoption, save one caveat, every deal I was being offered was going to drag the process out for multiple years thus making it impossible to complete the adoption of Ruby; in the end, the best option was to plead guilty to 1st degree negligent driving, and accept the sentence of fifteen days in county jail, and a six-hundred dollar fine. I agreed to it, and the prosecutor agreed to it, now we just needed the judge to climb aboard. The day of the trial arrived and the judge went for the deal sentencing me to fifteen days, with five suspended, she also dropped the six-hundy, and there I was two days from going to spend ten days in the county clink. It sounds strange, but I was thankful and amazed at God’s provision, both in terms of reliability and creativity.