A Letter to My Dad–An Adoptive Father of Thirteen
Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation, pens a heartfelt and loving letter to his father.
By Ryan Bomberger
You rescued me. Before I was even born, you chose me through adoption. Before you even saw me, your heart opened to me as your son—a child conceived in the violence of rape.
You didn’t reject me because of how I came to be. You cared about who I was meant to be.
You loved me. Through all of my ups and downs of stubbornness, triumphs, failures, confusion and joys, you remained a constant.
There’s no other man on this planet that has influenced me more. Your character, integrity, passion for Christ, divine patience, humor, compassion, wisdom, and your love for Mom is the standard for how I want to live my life with my wife and four kiddos (two of whom were adopted as well). You are a man whose life reflects Proverbs 20:7: “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”
You opened your arms to children that other men abandoned. Over and over again, you became a father to the fatherless.
And all of us—near black, off-white and every hue in between—were cherished and cared for because you understood that blood isn’t what binds us. Color (as beautiful as our hues are) isn’t what binds us. Love is.
Dad, you made the world around us a kinder and more hopeful place.
You’ve always engaged. Despite long workdays, you found time to connect with each of us and entered our individual worlds of interest. From sports to music to fishing to computers, you happily threw yourself into it, never once complaining about the rest you so desperately needed and deserved. You captured us, not only with your cameras, but with who you were—a man who was the same person at home as he was in public.
Your gentle spirit allowed you to make it through my million plus episodes of embarrassment, calamity, hilarity and “what-the-hun?” (I grew up a little Pennsylvania Dutch) moments. Somehow, you managed a store with all thirteen of your children clamoring for your attention, throughout the day, in one way or another. Remember when you connected our home phone with the store’s intercom system? Unexpected. Public. Drama. I can’t apologize enough for that!
I’ll never forget evenings or early mornings at the family business when you’d allow me to sit down with you and the new (but used) MAI Basic Four computers. You taught me a strange new language. I’d sit up on that mezzanine overlooking the store, with those amber screens flashing wonderful and curious possibilities to my eyes and into my mind. My foray into the digital realm began in your office. You encouraged me as you taught yourself how to use those powerful electronic devices. Some of the older leadership in the store opposed it all. They thought you were crazy. What good would come of such a trendy contraption?
A revolution. From Basic Four to the ubiquitous Microsoft Windows operating system, you oversaw massive changes in the way that old country store did business. You invested a lot of your time and energy into that wave of change that swept me up too. You encouraged me at every turn to understand it more, to find ways to help the store and find ways to express myself. My own revolution has been rooted in creativity released through a digital canvas. My design, my music, my passion to learn, and my social factivism are possible today because you didn’t shoo me away. Even when you were insanely busy, you weren’t too busy to squeeze in some time. You sat down next to me, walked me through it all, and stood back and allowed me to fail and flourish.
Bicycling and tennis were your escape from the business and busy-ness. Putting on those records was your escape, too, basking in the sounds of those LPs in the semi-quiet of the living room. You loved that Messianic Jewish worship music! I can still hear your soft clap and see that little charismatic jig you would occasionally break out.
You were also a huge fan of Bill Gaither’s music. There was this one kid’s album (unlike Gaither’s typical Gospel Quartet music) that he produced with a computer-oriented song called “Input Output.” I can still remember the sound of putting that cassette in the old Hitachi stereo system. The buttons clicked—sometimes would stick—and the speakers cracked just a little bit. The chorus rang out: “Input. Output. What goes in must come out. Input. Output. That is what it’s all about. Input. Output. Your mind is a computer whose input/output daily you must choose.” It was a timeless message.
I would never be who I am today without you helping to shape that Input. Your dedication unleashed undeniable purpose. You refused to accept the world’s low expectations, especially for the ten ethnically diverse and handful of disabled (yet differently-abled) children you had adopted. So many wrote us off as “unwanted.” You and Mom shattered that myth as you loved each of us and helped us find and embrace the Divine imprint on our lives.
Thank you for the remarkable output of faith, hope and love that now flows from your children in different and beautiful ways.
Even as you battle a disease that is slowly stealing your mind and abilities, Parkinson’s has not defeated you. You and Mom had to navigate a future you never could have expected. Like everything else in life, you faced it with strength and dignity. You truly are a testament to never giving up.
There’s no one quite like you, Henry Bomberger. I can only pray that people will see the Christ in me that you’ve always passionately reflected in your words and actions.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” You spoke this Psalm many, many times. You could’ve lived an easier life, but you chose us. You chose to serve the Lord.
Thank you for choosing me.
I love you, Dad.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at theradiancefoundation.org/mydad.