Without Realizing

I have always been a sucker for nostalgia. Few things make me more happily morose than going through old photos, yearbooks, letters, papers and letting my mind wander. Sometimes that feeling gets a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I feel the need to write about it.

We adopted the boys in July of 2008, but there was nearly a year before that when they lived with us. During that time, we wanted them to feel comfortable and safe so rather than make them call us mom and dad, we encouraged them to call us whatever they wanted to-Ryan, Sheryl, Mom or dad, and my personal favorite, awesome dudes.

I was surprisingly uncomfortable being called dad. Hearing their little voices calling me by name felt much more natural.

After the adoption (maybe because then I finally wanted to feel like one), I began to insist on being called dad. Now when they jokingly call me by name, I feel that same discomfort. Funny how things change.

When you live with children, it is easy to not notice them growing. Since we missed out on the first seven years of their lives, they have always seemed fully formed to me. It is with amazement that today, I go through some older photos and realize just how much they have grown, how those little boys are long gone and these almost teens now inhabit my home.

I thought it would be fun to share some images of these fine lads.

This photo was taken the first day they came to live with us. Like most boys, they loved video games and thought our Xbox was the coolest thing ever.

These haircuts have to be the worst. They never fit, were always counter to their personalities. I think we went almost a full year before cutting it again.

When I look at this picture, I try to imagine how they must have felt-another home that wasn’t with their mother. New people to care for them. Would anything ever be permanent again. These closed mouth smiles tell the story.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAJust about to leave for a trip to Disneyland. Destry has a tooth just waiting to fall out. I love this photo for several reasons. One-UTES.

Two-huge smile on Dylan’s face. Someone told him his teeth (which had been capped) were unattractive and he should never smile with his mouth open.

Three-look at my awesome bookshelf.

The giddy anticipation is evident. I had to force them to pose for one more photo before we left.


Dylan’s huge smile. The same trip.

I think this is taken at Bubba Gump Shrimp. I love the happiness on his face. Too much of their lives had been spent wondering things that small children shouldn’t have to wonder. I like to think that this trip was filled with none of that thinking. Everything was happy and both boys felt completely accepted and loved.


SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERATwo years later, the boys and I went back to Disney. What a change! Destry has grown almost four inches and Dylan looks like the suave and sly little devil he is becoming. He still has a long way to go when it comes to fashion sense. With his Christmas combination color combination, he is melting hearts and taking names.

It is during this time when they started pressing out, challenging boundaries. One thing we learned in our parenting class, when t kids start arguing with you, they feel safe. Funny to think about being happy when your kids argue, but it was one of the happiest days of my parenting life.

IMG_0559Tough and rugged on their last day of elementary school. Dylan has a bit of a little boy haircut. They usually refuse to dress the same as they don’t like the attention it brings.

In this situation, they both came upstairs and looked at the other saying, “serious, the dark blue shirt and dark pants?”

At least Destry changed to the gray slacks.

When they first came to live with us, they were in second grade. You sort of start thinking they will never really grow out of that phase. Then suddenly, without realizing it, they are about to start middle school, share their opinions about things they never cared about before.  They no longer need movies and books explained to them, they get most of the jokes.


IMG_1101Since I am the best dad, I took the boys to the priesthood session of general conference (and no, lightening didn’t come through the roof and slay me).

This photo really lets the mischievous nature of these lads show through. You can almost see plots forming, plans taking shape, deeds being pondered. What will they do? Who will fall victim to their shenanigans?

Most likely me.

They do clean up nice.


Christmas morning, and what two boys don’t get excited for new sweat pants?

Harder and harder to get a picture of them when they want to be close to each other. For twins, they sure don’t seem to share many interests. Still, they are amazing boys, honest to almost excess, willing to do most anything.

I am lucky to be their father, which I am, regardless of genetics.  It took me a while, several years in fact, before I began to really feel like one. I used to imagine myself as a substitute, standing in until they were grown. Someone making sure they survived, learned and grew, but someone who was temporary, a person who they would always be grateful for, look back on fondly, but someone they had lost contact with.

Fortunately for me, my boys don’t let that kind of attitude last. They grow older, wiser and better looking. They let me in on that process, share everything with me, glow at my approval and smile when I am proud of them. Somehow they have grown up, almost without me noticing.  I am glad I stopped to pay attention today.



About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

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