Hold Back The River (An Adoption Story)

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes
Hold back the river, so I
Can stop for a minute and see where you hide
Hold back the river, hold back

One of the first things that Chloe and I bonded over was our love for music. Pop music in particular. Cheesy, teenie-bop pop music to be even more particular. (Look, no need to judge me for my choice of music. I see you bobbing your head to Taylor Swift. Or T-Swizzle as Chloe and I like to call her.)  So it was no surprise that Chloe and I were both jamming out when James Bay’s “Hold Back the River” came on in the truck. “Turn it up!” Chloe yells out as we both sing at the top of our lungs. “Hold back the river, so IIIIIIIII.” “I love this song,” Chloe says. “Me too,” I replied.

This was my moment. We were bonding. Maybe this could be our song. “Why do you love it?” I asked. “Because my mommy used to sing it to me,” she replied matter-of-factly.

There have been a thousand of these moments over the past two years. One moment you’re on top of the world as the parent of the year, and in the very next moment you wonder if you can even do it.


Chloe and Karson were 5 and 3, respectively, when they came to live with us in the fall of 2015. A welcomed blessing to our family of three. A welcomed blessing that showed up with all of their belongings in two garbage bags after getting kicked out of a group home for fighting and no where else to go. At 3 and 5. “What do we do now?” Jenny asked. “I guess we go to Wal-Mart and get more stuff.”

The journey from foster care to adoption is full of “what do we do nows?”. It’s a step into the unknown. A head-first leap into, “what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?” It is the journey of sleepless nights. Of looking lost when the dentist asks, “is she allergic to anything?” Of more tears than humanly possible. Of having to leave day care for excessive fighting.

But it’s also a journey of love, because that’s what love does. It chooses to stay when the easy way out would be to leave. It says we’re committing to this thing because you’ve had enough uncertainty in your life already. It takes risks. It offers a place of peace in a world full of uncertainty, even when it’s hard and even when it hurts.

So, “What do we do now?” as our adoption date approaches? Love wins.

Lonely water, lonely water, won’t you let us wander
Let us hold each other
Lonely water, lonely water, won’t you let us wander
Let us hold each other





About Parson Carson

I am a husband, father, United Methodist pastor, Wolfpack fan, and outdoor enthusiast who loves meeting new people and hearing their stories... All while trying my best to love God and love others!
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20 Responses to Hold Back The River (An Adoption Story)

  1. Carla Hewitt 💜 says:

    What a blessing for you All. Our Good thoughts and Prayers are with your sweet family.
    Big Hugs to you ❤️

  2. Cathey Miller says:

    Love this and love you. So happy for your forever family of five.

  3. CarrollAnn Busher says:

    Well I am sitting here trying to hold back my river of tears. You know how I feel about adoption. Our 2 grown adoptive children are more blessings than I could ever express. Passing this on
    to them . Love your family and congratulations.

  4. Sharon Scruggs says:

    Congratulations Ben to you and Jennie, I always knew you or Paul one would become a minister, you are doing a wonderful thing for these children and may you all have many blessings ahead and much support for your journey. Our family loves you.

  5. Claudia Sur says:

    CONGRATULATIONS because you all win. So happy for all of you. You make a beautiful family❤️

  6. Vickie Ansley says:

    I love this. We too have an adopted son. He came to us at age 9 from a therapeutic foster home after having been identified in the “difficult to adopt” category because of his age. He is now 29, married, and the proud father of 3 of my beautiful grandchildren. There were moments. There were tears. There were fears and there was love. Great story!

  7. Janet Shepherd says:

    Hey Ben and Jennie,
    I am so glad you chose to adopt these two precious children. Two of my grandsons are adopted. The road is not always easy but as long as there is love, you can & will get through all of life’s challenges. My prayer for your now family of five is that you have a happy life together- loving and caring for each other. I bet you’ll make State fans out of Chloe and Karson!

  8. Kara Miller says:

    Wow!! Congratulations to you guys!! What a beautiful family!! I’m crying tears of joy over here. God is good and faithful and surprising!! Adoption is a beautiful thing, my two sweet nieces were adopted when they were babies and we celebrate 🎉 with you guys. Those two cuties are blessed beyond measure to have found such a loving family! Tell Jenny I said hey! Last time we saw you was in Tweetsie and Malachi and our Sarah Beth were babies!!
    Love, Kara

  9. Pat Gunn says:

    Ben, I am so thrilled for you and Jenny as you adopt these precious children. How blessed they are to be part of your Christian family. They will certainly bring joy to you Jenny, and Malachi. There is a great book about adoption that I always read to my second graders called A Mother for Choco. I hope you will get it to read to these children. How special to be “chosen” from the heart. I have a friend who adopted 3 sisters and she already had two sons of her own. They made such a happy family. I wish you all the love and blessings that you give to others. You reflect Christ’s love in all you do! Blessings, Pat Gunn

    Sent from my iPad


  10. Elizabeth Justus says:

    Ben I am proud of you and Jennie. Those kids are great and will be a blessing to each of you. I hope some day we can see you all. It’s okay that you are a wolfpack fan. God loves even tarheels. I keep track of you all through your mother.

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