at 11:35 PM

I'm a lucky man. I've already had the worst day of my life.

That day was eight years ago. My husband and I had been taking care of infant triplets for a year. One of them had a colostomy, one a hernia and the third a broken arm. A judge ruled that the triplets move back in with their drug-addicted schizophrenic birth mother just because the deck was stacked in favor of genetic relations. We had spent our life savings in the legal battle, but it was worth it, for all three infants had only ever learned one word -- Daddy.

We were proved right, as a year later the triplets had been so badly abused they were removed from the birth mother again.  Being right was cold comfort.

But from then on, nothing else was quite so bad. Cars have crashed, promotions denied, lotteries gone unwon, but we faced each and every one of the minor dramas with the certain knowledge that we have shed our largest tears.

In fact, my worst day encourages me to take wild chances: we fostered two more boys and eventually adopted them. I've sent off books to publishers, knowing that one more rejection letter doesn't compare to losing children. I've gone skydiving. We've taken in rescue dogs. My husband and I got married again, knowing that on any day a supreme court might declare our love illegal. But it has all been worth it. Nothing can ever be quite so tragic again.

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We will always love the triplets; will always wonder if they remember that old queen who sang show tunes to them in the neonatal intensive care ward. It's likely they do not. But still I'm grateful, for they taught me patience, because that's the only thing I had to offer at two in the morning when changing a colostomy bag. The love they nurtured in me is what gave me the courage to go on, to take in two more boys and four more dogs and make our bungalow into a home again.

With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.

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Kevin Fisher-Paulson is a captain with the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.

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