Monday, November 9, 2009


Current Reading: Now and Forever, by Ray Bradbury

Inspirational Quote: "The more you give, the more you get in return." -- Dave Thomas, Founder of Wendy's Restaurants and an adoptee.

Let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time (Cassandra tells me that all good stories start this way), there was a husband and wife who very much wanted children. Unfortunately, for reasons no-one could explain, they remained childless. They decided to adopt and registered themselves with the local Children's Aid Society. Years passed, for in the olden days, adoption was a slow process and Rip-Van-Winkle could have had a nap in the time between registration and adoption finalization.

Then one day, they received a phone call. A sibling group had become available, two brothers, who needed to be moved from foster care right away. The husband and wife were given four days to decide (very unusual and against established process). They did not sleep much during those four days. In the end, they said "Yes," even though they had no prior experience with children, because... well, because they believed in themselves and in each other and because they believed this opportunity coming at this time was something like destiny, or the will of God, or synchronicity or whatever words you like to use to describe things that just happen, but feel as though they were inevitable.

So two boys, six and nine, moved into their rather small home and all four of them tried to figure out how to become a family. It wasn't easy. Mom and Dad had no idea how to be parents. The boys had begun their lives in a home of abuse and neglect, and had only begun to think of their foster home as "home," when they were pulled out of it and placed with complete strangers who were, so far as they understood, just another set in a long line of people named "Mom and Dad."

Time passed, because it does that no matter how much you wish it wouldn't. There were a lot of hard times. The emotional damage they suffered had left them moody, uncommunicative and sometimes violent. The family used all the resources the CAS could offer, and sought support from other adoptive parents. They learned that they could not change the past, but they could make a good future. They learned how to cope, not necessarily with grace or without occasional bouts of despair, but with tenacity.

And there was love, always. And time wore the jagged edges off all of them, and they fit together about as well as families ever do.

There is no end here because we're still in the middle of it. Nor is there a moral because real lives don't have those. There is, however, an appendix:

My sons are thirteen and fifteen now, on the edge of becoming young men with all the storms and madness that accompany that stage of life. There are things that, as adoptive parents, Penelope and I have had to deal with that ordinary families cannot understand, and probably can't imagine. It's hard sometimes, but they are my sons. They may not have started their lives with me, but I shall end mine with them and I believe the latter is far more important. Although I see myself, my sense of humor, my sense of right and wrong, reflected in them every day, it is their impact on me that I feel every moment, especially as I look back on the previous seven years and look forward to the next sixty.

November is Adoption Awareness Month. Whatever your situation, single/married, gay/straight, childless/childful/childish, consider adoption (or even just fostering). You really can make a difference in a child's life, and they will make a wonderful difference in yours.

(For the curious: Cassandra was born 14 months after the boys moved in. Yep: 3 kids in 14 months, with 10 years between the oldest and the youngest. I always say I had my children in an avalache. I can't say I recommend it, but it's worked for me).


slcard said...

Captain! You've made me cry. I don't have time for that today.

How about some more weird (I know you probably have no idea what I'm talking about half the time. I tend to forget other people can't read my mind. It is terribly inconvenient). My dad adopted me, and he is the very best dad that ever lived or ever could live and nothing makes me happier, deep down in the pit of me, then when someone says how much I look like him. Adoption really is a wonderful, wonderful thing. From the child's perspective, I highly recommend it too.

Now I need a tissue.

Oh, and Cassandra is perfectly right: All the best stories really do begin with once upon a time

Ulysses said...

I apologize for messing up your schedule. Perhaps, if you let me know ahead of time, I can time weepy posts better 8).

My sons came to me late in their lives, with clear memories and some serious fantasies about their biological parents. They are not forthcoming with their affection (they're teenagers now, so there's nothing unusual about that) to Persephone or myself. We don't get "I love you," and I don't think we ever have.

My fondest hope is that some day I will find that they have felt about me just a tiny bit of what you feel for your father.

slcard said...

If they don't already, and you might be surprised by what they can't or aren't yet ready to express, they will. I'd bet you all of my publishing hopes and dreams on it.

Ulysses said...

Well, I'd hate to have something like THAT riding on it.

Regardless, as I'm sure you understand, I'm not in it for anything other than what I'm already getting... in spades.

slcard said...

Of course you're not. That's how I know I'll win my bet.