We met our son’s birth father. And here’s how it all started.
11/03/2014 12:35 PM
Dear Mr. Beasley, you don’t know me. Forgive the intrusion; I know this is a long shot but I am trying to help my 22-year-old son find his birthfather. His name was Dennis Beasley. His birth mother’s name is Vicki Thompson. My son was born in August 1992 in Indianapolis. Feel free to message me back or call my cell. Thank you, Mia Hinkle
11/05/2014 3:10 AM
I’m currently out of the country, I’ll return on Thursday. What’s his name? I believe that I may be his father, Vicki told me she put a child up for adoption that I may have fathered; she told me this in early ’93. She showed me a picture of the child and I believed him to be mine by appearance. I checked your page, but not many pics to view. I’m anxious yet don’t know what to expect, nor what is expected of me. My FB page is open to be viewed if you’d like to learn a little more about me. I’ll call or message you when I arrive back in the country. Please feel free to message me before then if you or he desires.
11/05/2014 11:09 AM
Thank you for your quick response. His name is Jackson Hinkle. We met Vicki in the fall of 2010 and Jackson has been curious about his birth father ever since. He is actually the one who located your Facebook profile and when he showed me some of your pictures, I could see the likeness. I think he has hesitated to contact you himself because he didn’t want to risk (a) getting you in trouble with your family, (b) that it might not be you, or (c) he didn’t want to risk rejection again. So that’s when I decided to reach out to you to see if you might be interested in meeting him. We completely understand if you don’t want to open this chapter. But if you are open to a meeting, I can help facilitate it. Jackson has an older brother, Walker, and he met his birth mother and sisters a few years ago; it continues to be a really nice relationship. It gave Walker a more complete picture of who he is and where he came from. I have set two of my Fb albums to public; one is named “Jackson” and one is named “Walker and Jackson”. There you can see many photos of Jackson growing up. Looking forward to hearing from you.
11/06/2014 8:11 AM
Good morning Mia,
I’m back in the country, apologies for the delay in response. I agree with avoiding FB initially, and would much appreciate your facilitation with our meeting. My wife and I viewed pics of both of your children and must say we praise God for what appears to be a job well done. Gratitude to both of you for stepping in where I couldn’t. Please feel free to call or continue to message me. Before Jackson and I meet, I’d like to meet or speak with you first unless you feel differently. Thank you for your efforts in reaching out to me.
So that very evening, November 6, 2014, at five o’clock pm at the Starbucks on Rockville Road on Indianapolis west side, Karl and I met Dennis and Carla Beasley for the very first time. I really can’t wrap words around this kind of experience. But I will do my best to try.
Jackson was three days old when he came home from the hospital and into our arms. And just like with our older son Walker, just two and a half years before, our bond was mysterious and instantaneous and spiritual. Adoption is crazy like that. He was born on a Friday and came home on Monday morning. But the moment we got “the call” and we heard the words, “It’s a boy”, that little infant nestled right into our hearts for good!
I had spoken to his birth mother, Vicki Thompson, on the phone while she was still in the hospital. I sensed she just wanted to hear my voice, looking for a little reassurance she was doing the right thing by signing those forever papers. She was pleased to hear that we already had a biracial toddler so that Jackson (she called him Brandon) wouldn’t be alone. When we met her at a little café in Fountain Square 18 years later (2010), she seemed nervous, but she was kind and polite and answered all his questions.
“Any medical history I should know about?”
How tall were the men in your family?
How tall was my birth father?
What was his name?”
After that day she disappeared. We reached out a few more times over the next year, but letters came back “return to sender” and phone calls went unanswered. That was on October 9, 2010, and for the next four years, Jackson would cruise around Facebook from time to time stalking the profiles of anyone named Dennis Beasley. Occasionally he would come bounding down the stairs mimicking each pose of each Dennis that remotely fit the bill.
“Hey, Mom! Look at this picture. Look at my smile. Look at his eyes. Do we look alike?”
Then one Sunday morning in 2014 (I think it was Labor Day weekend), out of the blue, Jackson and his girlfriend, Kaycee, showed up at our house all dressed up!
“Hey Jackson, hey Kaycee, nice surprise seeing you. What’s up?”
“We’ve been to church!”
“Really? What church?”
“Maawm, you know who! Dennis Beasley! I found him on Facebook and figured out where he goes to church. First Free Will Baptist Church of Indianapolis. Then I put the address in my GPS: 2433 Barnes Avenue, Indianapolis. But we must have been like really early. Like over an hour early.
And then we started thinking about it. Like if we do see him, what are we going to say? “Hi, my name is Jackson and I think you might be my birth father.” What if he’s not? How embarrassing! What if he is? And he’s with his wife and kids? At church! And they don’t know anything about me? I wouldn’t like it if someone did that to me. So we left.”
Well, this was all news to this mom who prides herself on knowing everything, but we’ve always told our sons, that if they ever wanted to search for their birth families, we’d help in any way possible. So I waited for it to come up again. And it didn’t. So two months later, I sent that Facebook message to Mr. Beasley.
November 6, 2014, 5 pm, Starbucks on Rockville Road, west side of Indianapolis, Indiana. Dennis and Carla had just returned from a Caribbean Cruise that day. He had been FB messaging me from ports in paradise wherever they could get internet and trying to process this new bit of information the best he could. He told us about breaking the news to Carla, standing on their cabin balcony with the idyllic turquoise blue sea stretching to the horizon. They both cried. And then they prayed that God would use this turn of events for His purpose and His glory.
Just days later, we ordered coffee on Rockville Road and the minutes turned into hours in the blink of an eye. There were so many unknowns on both sides of the table. So many questions. It turns out that Dennis and Carla had just been married a few years, since 2010. Within 5 minutes we could tell that she was the secret sauce in this relationship. Carla is a glowing African American woman, Godly and strong and professional and compassionate. It was apparent that she had been sent by God at the behest of Dennis’s praying family. Dennis is a handsome Black man with a twinkle in his eye who makes you feel like he is listening to your every word. Now in his forties, he has been kept fit and solid by his occupation as a sheet metal worker. His nerves of steel enable him to work at heights that are too risky for the average guy.
Dennis asked how this search came about and we told him about that Sunday back in September when Jackson and Kaycee visited his church on Barnes Avenue. Dennis and Carla excitedly spoke over one another, “What? Are you serious? I wish they had stayed around and asked for me. I am sure we were there. I am a Deacon, the one with the keys to the building. We are always the first ones there in the morning and the last ones to leave in the afternoon. Every Sunday.”
We tried our best to sum up the first 22 years of Jackson’s life in just a couple of cups of coffee. Dennis listened intently to our every word. Descriptors like adorable, energetic, bright, intuitive, observant, inquisitive, tenacious, strong-willed, and loving were just a few of the adjectives we used to tell Dennis about Jackson. Places like Little Lamb Christian preschool, Carmel Public schools, kid-friendly safe neighborhood, Northview Sunday School, Radiant Youth Group, mission trips to Central America, vacation destinations around the country, and summer camps dotted the map of Jackson’s youth. Natural aptitudes like physical condition, intelligence, confidence, good grades (especially when procrastinating), comfortable in conversation with people of all ages, always pushing the envelope, and life of the party were phrases that spoke to Jackson’s genetic hard-wiring.
Dennis paused. “Tell me, is Jackson athletic at all?”
“Oh, yes!” we laughed, “I guess we left that part out. Actually, over the years, Jackson excelled at CUSC travel soccer, Carmel High School Varsity soccer team, was on the Smokey Row swim team, played a season of basketball, and took gymnastics when he was little.”
“Wait, he was a gymnast?” Dennis’s eyes widened.
“Well, not really. He took lessons for a season when he was little, but they just wanted to teach him how to be safe and stand in line and take turns. He quickly lost interest. And besides, he already had taught himself to do a back handspring. He was 4.”
Carla interjected, “Oh Lord! That clinches it! To this day I cannot take this man anywhere where we don’t run into someone from his past and they ask if he can still do that back handspring like when they were kids. And be darned if he doesn’t stand right up from the table and launch into a back handspring! 42 years old and he is still doing the back-flips like he was a boy!!”
We all laughed. “Well, I guess we don’t need to see a DNA test. We just need to see your back handspring!”
The very next evening, November 7, we met at the Cheesecake Factory, Dennis & Carla, Karl & me, and Jackson. It was fun to watch them interact. Jackson was the floor director of the conversation and he wasn’t shy about asking about those burning questions that had been rattling around his adolescent mind for years. I felt Carla, Karl, and I shrink back to the edge of the exchange, almost as if we were spectators. Dennis and Jackson’s eyes locked like we weren’t even there. Dennis was frank as he revisited some really painful parts of his life. Jackson’s questions were all over the place.
“What about Vicki, my birth mother? Did she tell you about me?”
“How tall are you? Do you think I will get any taller? I am 22 and only 5’5”. My mom keeps telling me that I will grow, but I don’t think so. I heard about an operation in Germany where they can break your legs and put rods in them to extend them and make you taller. What do you think about that?”
“Do you have any other kids? Are they bi-racial too? How old are they?”
“How do you afford to go on all those cruises?”
“What are your views on legalizing marijuana? I think it’s only a matter of time before the laws in Indiana will catch up with the times.”
“What kind of diseases are in your family? Anything genetic?”
“I want to buy a Tesla. That seems like a super awesome car. I’m going to work hard and save enough to buy one cash. There is a dealership in this mall. You want to go sit in a Tesla after dinner?”
“I want you to know that I have two awesome parents. They are sitting right here. They are my REAL parents. You know that, right?”
“Have you always lived in Indianapolis?”
Listening to the banter was like watching a ping pong game until Jackson asked, “What did the people in your family die from?”
“Jackson, can I be real with you? My father died from a heroin overdose. We found him on the bathroom floor after the last time he shot up. I was 9 years old. It was the day after his 29th birthday (12/9/1981). We had just returned home from Christmas shopping; my Mom, Grandma Lula, my sister Dianna, and my uncle Jeffrey who was like a brother to me. I remember it was a cold moonless night as we carried our Christmas purchases into the house. My sister, Dianna, was only 11 years old at the time and she discovered his lifeless body on the bathroom floor. It was the most devastating moment of my life. I believe he was still alive when they tried to get him on his feet, but then I watched as he took his final breath. Everything changed that day. I had been raised in a loving, working-class, two-parent home for the first decade of my life. Everything changed that day. Everything got really hard really fast.
I was just 9 years old when the Devil began telling me lies about who I was, what I should do, and all the reasons it didn’t matter. I saw the pain my father’s overdose put my family through and I vowed never to involve myself in drugs and alcohol, but almost immediately I began to feel destruction tearing at the edges of my soul. I came from a family of God-fearing people, but the pervasive culture around me had me compromising a little at a time until at age 16 years I became a father for the first time in 1989. Although witnessing the birth of my oldest daughter, Denisha, was a great moment for me, raising a child while I was still a kid myself would prove to be more than I could handle. Two years later in 1991 my second daughter, Victoria, was born and the pressures mounted.
More lies from the Devil. I was convinced that I deserved all the privileges of being an adult without any of the responsibility. I was so young when I started having sex and babies and yet I was still depending on my own mother for food and shelter. I couldn’t see it at the time, but this was one of the first areas of my mind the enemy began to attack; the fact was I was not equipped to take care of the two baby girls I had brought into the world. I felt so defeated and lost, Satan found it easy to build a stronghold against me. Proverbs 23:7 says “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” I became a slave to the Devil’s deceit. He kept pouring on the lies and I kept right on believing them.”
Carla piped up, “Oh now, we ‘bout to have church right here at the Cheesecake Factory!”
Dennis continued, “Jackson, should I go on?”
“I felt so restless. I was trying to fit in with friends, to be a man, earn a living, and be there for my baby girls, but I was doing none of it well. The Devil was sinking his claws deeper and deeper into my world view. Temptations were everywhere and I completely bought into living in the flesh. In time I knew something had to change.
I enlisted in the United States Army at age 20 and I fully expected to serve until retirement. I wanted to head out of town and make something of myself, be all that I could be, you know the drill. I married the girl I was seeing in 1993 and we enlisted together, hoping to make a fresh start.
Just before I left for Boot Camp there was a knock at the door. It was Vicki. I didn’t even know she knew where I lived. I don’t think I even remember knowing her last name. She showed me a picture of a baby I now know was you, Jackson. She told me about the adoption. I was married and heading out for Active Duty. I fully intended to be stationed far away from Indiana for the next 20 years. I wished her well and that was that. Until last week when your mother messaged me.”
The noisy clatter of the restaurant had all but melted away as Dennis continued, “Jackson, I was a different man back then. I can see now that God was watching out for you by giving you the parents he gave you. I was so happy to get the call from your Mom that you wanted to meet me. But Jackson, your parents have given you way more than I could have at that time in my life.”
Jackson interrupted, “Oh yeah, I know that for sure! My folks are awesome! Can I ask, what made you change?”
“I was discharged from the Army on June 1, 1996. After serving for a few years, I knew the whole lifer thing wasn’t for me. I wanted out of the service for one reason and one reason only. I couldn’t wait to be free from random drug screens so I could smoke weed like all of my friends. More lies from below: I thought everything would be okay if I could just get high. A year after joining up, our son, Dennis Beasley III, was born. We call him Tre.
Being a husband and father to an infant while serving in the Army carried its own set of stressors, and the pressure continued to build. Satan kept on with his lies, telling me that everything would be okay if I could just get numb.
Once I was out of the service, I found a good job and I vowed I would do better by this child. But soon the whole world of alcohol and drugs called to me and I answered. Consequently, I lost that good paying job and I figured out I could make some good money selling marijuana. I didn’t even recognize the evil trap I was walking right in to. After all, I was the center of attention (which I loved) and I was making a lot of money (which I also loved). But I was never content, always restless.
Everything was so difficult in my life, ever since I was 9 years old when my dad died. Nothing came easy for me. Except for women. Women came easy for me. But the backwash of easy hookups resulted in 4 babies in 5 years with 4 different women; four children I could not care for. Satan’s lies were unrelenting and were reflected in the lies and broken promises I made to those women. Over and over again I broke my covenants with my wife, children, my family, friends, even with God and my deceased father.
The more money I made, the more I wanted and it was never enough. So I turned to sell crack-cocaine and before you know it, I had become my own worst enemy and best customer. The more I used, the more my wife and I fought, the more I used, the worse I felt, the more I used, the more I let my son down, the more I used. It was a vicious cycle and I saw no way out.
I remember my little boy pleading with me, “Daddy, come play a video game with me, please Daddy, please?!” And I would say, “Okay Tre, I’ll be right there.” But then one more pipe and six hours later I would wake up to see my little boy sound asleep waiting for me to come to play with me with the controller in his little hand. The shame I felt was so intense. I loved my little boy and didn’t want to hurt him in any way. And then my wife and I would fight. Again. And again.
I knew my mother was praying for me. I knew others in our family lifted me in prayer every day, but I wanted none of it. The lies of the evil one drowned out any inkling of hope.
Then one day, my wife had had enough. She had heard it all a million times before. All the broken promises. All the deception. All the bargaining. After 11 years of marriage, we had the fight of our lives and she took our son and left. I was shattered.
Satan whispered in my ear, “See? Isn’t this hard? Too hard to continue? Don’t you think your little boy would be better off without you and your crack? After all, you and your dad are cut from the same cloth. Life was too hard for him, too. Was he weak like you? You’ll feel better if you just get high. You are an empty shell with nothing to offer anyone. You are like an oyster in the sea without a pearl. Even with all your accomplishments, you will never amount to anything. You are nothing of value.”
His whisper in my ear was soothing and alluring. They say the most damaging lies are the ones you tell yourself. The devil had been lying to me for so long, I had become accustomed to hearing those same lies from myself and to me they had become a slippery truth.
It was a warm autumn night. In my despair, I gathered up all the drugs and booze I had in my possession and set it all up on the patio table in the back yard. Hennessy, weed, crack, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, uppers, downers, pills of all kinds; you name it, I had it. And I set my mind to consume it all that night.
Sometime during the night, deep in a fog, I remember saying out loud, “I think I’ll go to church in the morning.” Then I passed out.
When daylight came, I somehow found my way to church. The First Free Will Baptist Church on Barnes Avenue. I looked and smelled like last night. My hair was long and natural and huge. My beard was not trimmed. My clothes were yesterday’s.
My nephew, Nuke (14) saw me walk into the sanctuary. “Hey, Uncle Pookey!” (My family calls me Pookey. Always have. Don’t know why. They like to call me Pookey.)
“Hey, Uncle Pookey! Come sit with me!”
My family had attended First Free Will Baptist Church in the Riverside area of Indianapolis for many years. That morning, the guest preacher was delivering a fiery message from the Book of Jonah. The message was clear: God gave Jonah a specific assignment, but Jonah chose to ignore God’s call and thereby chose the alternative, which, by the way, if you remember, didn’t turn out so well for Jonah. The call and response lines were “choose the assignment or choose the alternative”.
CHOOSE THE ASSIGNMENT OR CHOOSE THE ALTERNATIVE. The rhythm of the chanting called to something deep within my soul.
CHOOSE THE ASSIGNMENT OR CHOOSE THE ALTERNATIVE. The veil was being lifted from my bloodshot eyes.
CHOOSE THE ASSIGNMENT OR CHOOSE THE ALTERNATIVE. I was beginning to see how God had put a call on my life, had given me an assignment, but Satan had pierced the soul of my 9-year-old self and had obscured my vision with the sight of my father’s final breath. Why? Why did my daddy abandon us to fend for ourselves?
CHOOSE THE ASSIGNMENT OR CHOOSE THE ALTERNATIVE. As I grew up, the evil one had used money, sex, drugs, ego, and all manner of fleshly diversions to cloud my vision until I couldn’t even see God, much less His assignment for my life.
CHOOSE THE ASSIGNMENT OR CHOOSE THE ALTERNATIVE. Just like Jonah, choosing the alternative hadn’t worked out so well for me. It had only produced a life of heartbreak for everyone close to me. My children wanted nothing to do with me because of the hurt I had caused their mothers. And it’s killing my mother to watch her only son wander down the same path where she lost her husband so many years ago. I need to make this right.
CHOOSE THE ASSIGNMENT OR CHOOSE THE ALTERNATIVE. Is this thing for real? Can I really get a do-over? Can I really begin anew? Can God really forgive me? Can the blood of Jesus Christ really cover all I have to cover?
It was time for the altar call and people all around me were going forward for prayer. My young nephew, Nuke, elbowed me, “Come on Uncle Pookey, let’s go to the altar.” I resisted and looked straight ahead.
CHOOSE THE ASSIGNMENT OR CHOOSE THE ALTERNATIVE. “
Come on Uncle Pookey! Let’s go forward!” By now he was grabbing my shirt sleeve and tugging me into the aisle. “Let’s go forward. Come on, I’ll go with you!”
Whether my teenage nephew understood the gravity of the moment as he slowly walked me to the altar, or if he was simply being obedient to the Lord’s prompting, we may never know, but when we reached the front of the church the praises of the saints raised the roof! A crowd gathered at the altar. Church leaders laid hands on many and anointed with oil. Their prayers sounded like the voices of angels, but not the cute little cherub-looking angels. This sounded more like body-building soldier angels engaged in a battle with dark principalities for the souls of children. The loud and authoritative, bold and unflinching voices of those who have read all the way to the end of Revelation and know how the story ends.
Soon it was my turn. The prayer and attention turned specifically to me. The volume rose like a rush of wind. Someone anointed my head with oil and it ran through my enormous Afro and dripped onto my shoulders. They prayed a prayer of deliverance, a prayer of power and love and grace and complete forgiveness and unconditional acceptance. I felt the warmth of a cozy inviting fire coming in from the cold. The prayers continued. The cozy warmth began to turn hot and I became short of breath.
And then above the voices of the saints, I heard a clear audible voice,
“Wow, it sure is getting hot in here. Isn’t it getting hot in here? It’s so hard to breathe right now. I think we should get some air. Yeah, let’s step outside and get a breath of fresh air. It’s so hot in here.”
I felt myself backing down the aisle toward the back door. Slowly walking backward, the altar getting smaller and further away, I was sweating and I could not breathe. That dark voice in my ear prodding me to GET OUT OF THERE! I had nearly reached the door at the back of the sanctuary when I observed a couple of large ushers in black suits at either side aisle and by the time I reached the last pew I felt them swoop me up by the elbows and glide me back to the altar.
The prayers of the saints continued. My tears mixed with anointing oil and I received deliverance. Deliverance from past mistakes, from my fleshly life, from old wounds, from addictions that had controlled my life. Instantly I felt brand new and I could not stop smiling!!
The date was October 10, 2004, I will never forget it. I was 32 years old. After service, I drove directly to my cousin who also happened to be a minister. I brought a pillowcase filled with all my remaining drugs and paraphernalia, scales and baggies; I poured it out in front of him and said, “I need your help. I gave my heart to Jesus this morning and I need all this stuff gone.” He took care of it and that was the last of my old life.
Things were never the same after that. God removed any cravings I might have had and I began to live a new life in Christ. Now, I’m not saying that was the end of my struggles or that we all lived happily ever after. I had one more failed marriage before I married Carla. My daughters and I continue to work on old deep wounds. But I now carry the love of Jesus wherever I go. It’s a whole new paradigm, a whole new way of seeing people and the world around us. It’s a freedom I never knew existed.
I am now an active member and a deacon at that very same church, First Free Will Baptist Church, and I freely share my testimony with anyone who needs to hear it. By the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I am an open book. No more secrets. No more lies. Only a witness for the glory of God!
I married the love of my life, Carla, in 2010 and we have adopted two sons through the foster care system. I could not be there in the ‘90s for those 4 babies in 5 years, but I am making a Godly difference in the futures of 16-year-old, Zario and Michael, whose parents cannot be there for them now. I make a good living as a sheet metal worker and like to go on cruises. God has been gracious to me and my family. He is using my story to reach others for the Kingdom every single day!”
Carla punctuated Dennis’s story, “I told you we were going to have some church right here at the Cheesecake Factory!!”
We all laughed.
And Jackson piped up, “Hey you guys! You wanna go sit in a Tesla?!”