From your son (if I can call myself that), Sam
Many teenagers struggle with identity issues and questions about their background and in my experience, adopted children have more questions than most. When my adopted daughter entered adolescence, she had more questions than I had answers to and did not cope well emotionally with all the unknowns in her life. We don’t know how much Samuel knew of his life story. I just wonder if this is how he may have felt about the events of 1 Samuel 1-3.
The circumstances of this story seem far-fetched, I know – who would give their child to the temple these days? – so I have imagined an up-to-date setting that is more about the emotions this young lad may have felt than a factual retelling.
To mum (if I can call you that – you have no idea how weird it feels to write that word),
Guessing you will have been expecting a letter like this at some stage. No idea if you have been longing for it or dreading it. No idea about a lot of things in my life right now. Please just read it.
God knows what the future holds. It’s a mystery as much as the past is to me. When you’ve read it, then burn it or treasure it or do whatever you want with it. It’s up to you.
My grandfather/guardian/carer/keeper (whatever you call him) has always told me the truth – well, some of the truth anyway.
‘Sam, you’re not my son – well, not by birth anyway – (which is a good thing because his sons are all absolute idiots and are going to get the family in a whole lot of trouble some day) – but you are as precious to me as my actual sons and are going to end up doing some really great things.’
When I was little, he would tell me the same bedtime story every night of a woman who prayed and prayed for a baby, but for whatever reason, didn’t seem to be able to have one. The thought of not being able to ever have a baby made her desperately sad. Eventually she did get pregnant and was overjoyed. When she had the baby though, she soon felt that she couldn’t look after this extra special child well enough and that he would be better off in another family, who could give him the best start in life that he so totally deserved.
That woman was you and that child was me, but you know that already. Grandfather (that’s what I’ve always called him) gave me the new clothes that you brought to the house once a year every year. This was a sign that you hadn’t forgotten and still cared for me.
I am nothing like other children of my own age. Not that I get to mix with any, but I see them when we take a walk. We don’t have a television or computer or mobile phone. I don’t listen to modern music or play video games. I am home-schooled. I am not ‘tainted by this world and its pleasures’. I am not normal but I guess that is what you wanted. You wanted me to be extra special. Well, if being a freak is extra special, then you’ve got it spot on.
Don’t feel too bad. I’ve not suffered. Grandfather has taken his task seriously. We have lived simply but happily. I have known no different and am thankful for all the knowledge I have received.
Until now. Now the questions crowd in and I have no answers. Now I need to know who I am and why I am here. Now I feel alone and isolated and don’t know how to be myself in this world.
I’ve had your address for a few weeks now. I came across it in a drawer in the study and knew exactly what it was straightaway. Now I have a name to put to the face in my imagination.
I could have come to find you, but I wouldn’t do that to Grandfather. I couldn’t walk away from him now. He is old and needs me. He has been good to me and I have no right to hurt him by seeing you. Not that I’m sure I even want to, to be honest. There are too many questions that I’m not sure I’m ready to hear the answers to.
If you were so desperate to have a child, then why would you give him away?
If you loved me, how could you let me go?
Was I a difficult baby? Was I too difficult to look after?
Have you gone on to have other children? Do I have brothers and sisters out there I don’t know about?
If so, how could you look after them OK and not me?
Do you still think you did the right thing?
Will you ever want to see me again?
You see, they’re pretty tough questions and I’m not ready to have that conversation, even if you are. I’ve been filling in the gaps in my life story all my life and have got pretty good at it.
So I guess you’re wondering why I’ve written this letter then.
I was asleep and was woken up by a voice calling me by name. There was only me and Grandfather in the house, so I went to him, but he said it wasn’t him.
I went back to bed and it happened again and I went to him again and he said it wasn’t him again.
The third time, he said it must be God and to say ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening’. I was half asleep and a bit confused and just wanted to get back to sleep so I did what he said and I heard a voice in my head telling me that bad things were going to happen to Grandfather and his family (no news there!), that all the bad stuff his sons had done was going to catch up with them. Not only that, but things were going to happen in our land that would make the ears of everyone who hears about them tingle. Weird stuff, eh?
When I woke up, I thought it was all just a bad dream, but Grandfather insisted on hearing all about it, which was a pretty awkward conversation. He seemed to take it seriously and believe it was from God. I’m not so sure. Why would God bother talking to a young kid like me?
Maybe it’s just voices in my head and I’m going a bit crazy. I’m not convinced this is all going to end well. No one is going to want to listen to a crazy kid telling them about all the bad stuff that is going to happen to them.
I have no idea what to think. Grandfather’s old and I’m not sure he’s all there sometimes and I have no one else to talk to about it all.
So that’s why I have to write now, you see. Who knows where I’m going to end up and what is going to happen to me. This may be the only chance I get to make contact with you.
I would like to meet you some day. To hear your version of my story.
Maybe I will do something special and make you proud of me.
Maybe I will come back to you and learn what family really means.
Until then, take care.
From your son (if I can call myself that) Sam.