It’s been more than 22 years since Lorraine and I got fingerprinted. We weren’t caught in some kind of crime—we were in the process of becoming foster parents with an eye toward adopting. It’s standard procedure, or at least it was back then. Once you go through everything it takes to get approved for adoption, it all makes sense and seems fine. But back then, it seemed like a lot of paperwork and red tape.
We were rushing to jump through all the hoops we needed to jump through in time for the birth of a baby who turned out not to be our child after all (another story). But our social worker urged us to get the fingerprinting done as soon as possible. The fastest and best path toward getting this taken care of was to go to downtown Rockford and have the fingerprinting there.
That seemed like a long way to go. We were nervous. But we made the appointment and went. The officer was friendly, kind and efficient. We talked with him, thanked him and went on our way. That was one item we could check off our list.
Just few days ago, the officer who took our fingerprints all those years ago emailed me.
“I was the Illinois State Police fingerprint technician who fingerprinted you and your wife for an adoption. I think that was well over 20 years ago,” wrote Officer William Reeves, who now works as a fingerprint specialist with the Fairfax County Police Department in Fairfax, Virginia. “My wife and I attended College Church for several years before moving to the east coast. We also adopted two girls through Sunny Ridge Family Center. They are now 20 and almost 18. My 20-year-old is a junior at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg (VA). My 18-year-old graduates high school in June and is trying to decide which college to attend. She’s been accepted at about four or five universities.”
He also made some interesting observations that seems to fit with Orphan Sunday tomorrow.
"I was older when I married," he said. "and we knew from the onset due to some health issues, that we would have to consider the adoption route to become parents. We were comfortable with that realization from the start. We attended meetings and adoption support groups. I did meet once with Pastor Hughes to discuss our options and to see if my motivations to adopt were in the right place. To clarify, some people want to adopt to save a child or save the world. I met a number of them when the state police took over the fingerprinting project for the Illinois DCFS for a few years. Some folks couldn’t wait to save a child. I was concerned about false altruism. And, as I discussed this with Kent, he stated somewhat emphatically that to want to be a parent was the greatest of altruisms."
Both of Bill's daughters were born in China, and in our email exchange he recalled a woman coming up to him when he was with his two daughters and asked if his wife was Asian. Bill said no, his wife is Irish. The woman got this puzzled and embarrassed look and walked off.
Bill then went on to say some kind things about the College Church website and to ask for some resources in his church’s search for a new pastor.
It was great to hear from him and to help in a small way in his current church’s search for a new pastor. Whatever help I provided, I wouldn’t have been able to if we hadn’t made that trip to Rockford 20+ years ago. This was more than just an item to check off our list of things to do because God was doing so much more.
God’s fingerprints are all over us. He touches us and uses us in ways we would never dream. He makes connections between us and other people that we can’t imagine. So now, more than 20 years later, I’m reconnected with the man who fingerprinted us for our adoption so long ago. As adoptive parents, it’s good to hear from him. As Christians, it’s great to hear of his walk with God and his new church. But it’s really God’s work—not Bill’s or mine. Fingerprints.
Think about that today. Think about that with the grocery clerk. The person who cuts your hair. The parent you’re standing next to at the indoor soccer game. Or that baby thousands of miles away or in Wheaton who won't look like you, but is waiting for a family to welcome him or her.
Every encounter is more sacred than we realize.