Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘adopt’

Papa Times Five

Papa Times Five

I’m 59 years old and for 37 of those years I’ve been caring for children.

That is the realization that struck me like a high school football team a few months ago when our youngest son left home and transferred to a four year college in Southern California. “How can this be?” if anyone is reading this or should ask. None of the children stayed beyond the age of 20 (though a few returned every now and then for short or prolonged stays). I didn’t have my first child as a teenager, and I didn’t marry into a family that already had children. Everyone came by choice, when and how we wanted.

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At the age of 23 I married a kind woman who wanted to have children as much as I did. She also worked in the health care field and cared for others. Shortly after we married, our daughter Darcy was born and two years later she birthed our son Brendan. About four years after that we adopted Jason (who was 4 at the time), but it turns out that that is not something she wished to do. We separated and I became a single parent of Jason, with Darcy and Brendon staying with us half of the week.

About a year later, I met Audrey, who tentatively became a step-mother when we married the following year. After getting my vasectomy reversed, we had a child named Shona (who was the last to recently leave home). Shortly after Shona was born, we had our 14-year-old foster daughter Leti move in with us.

If you’ve kept track so far, that makes five children. Darcy and Leti both married and each now have two children, so we don’t have any lack of children around, but it’s quite different. The wonderful grandchildren are Jupiter, Ilee, Lola and Neiva. Audrey and are are respectively known as Oma and Opa.

When I mention that our last adult child has left home, friends say things like, “Oh, you have an empty nest.” Or, “That must be hard.” Or,”It must be nice having the house to yourself.” It’s difficult to give a definitive reply, as it feels like a combination of all the above. At times I miss the kids. At others, it is wonderful to have time alone. And at other moments I’m not sure what I’m feeling. Knowing all the children and grandchildren are fundamentally healthy and happy, alleviates a lot of anxiety and worry. Of course, there are always a mixture of feelings when there are issues of concern or difficult transitions.

So, out of choice (Was it really choice or conditioning or karma?), I’ve been partially creating, raising and nurturing children for well beyond half of my life. I have no regrets.

I wonder if we should perhaps adopt another child who needs a home? Why not 4 or 5 more? Oh yeah, there is the reality that they are with you the rest of your life, whether they leave home or not and unlike radishes or broccoli, you can’t just plant them in the soil and water them once a week for them to grow into adults. It takes a little more attention and love that that, as I’ve discovered five times (so far).

Carried In Our Hearts

0399161058.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Carried In Our Hearts
New York Journal of Books
Review by Gabriel Constans

Carried in Our Hearts: The Gift of Adoption:
Inspiring Stories of Families Created Across Continents

by Dr. Jane Aaronson

“. . . There is great care, hope, and love in these pages.”

The introduction to Carried in Our Hearts reads, “These stories need to be told,” and Dr. Jane Aronson does so with honesty, insight, love, conflict, and conviction.

This collection of adoptive families around the world is wisely divided into eight thematic sections, the headings of which convey the essence of the essays in each. They are: The Decision, The Journey, The Moment We Met, Early Challenges, Becoming A Family, A New Life, Reflections: Children Tell Their Own Adoption Stories, and The Children Left Behind.

The author/editor of this collection is Dr. Jane Aronson, who has two adopted boys of her own from Ethiopia. Dr. Aronson is a pediatrician who specializes in adoption medicine and who founded the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. To say her heart, body, and soul are thoroughly invested in helping children (professionally, personally and collectively) would be an understatement.

UNICEF estimates that there are 153 million orphans in the world. Dr. Aronson is trying to get as many of them into families as possible and make sure those not adopted are treated with dignity and care.

The title of the book comes from an adopted child’s remark overheard by her mother when she was speaking to another young child her age. Her daughter’s friend said she was carried in her mother’s tummy and the adopted daughter replies, “My mommy didn’t carry me in her tummy; she carried me in her heart.” That line alone could make the harshest reader’s heart melt, but it is just one of many poignant moments revealed throughout this compilation.

Molly Wenger McCarthy, who has three children, including daughter Lu from Ethiopia, sums up the experience of adoption (and having and raising children by any means) with an insightful and comprehensive line, “The home side of our adoption is a humbling, astonishing, crazy, poignant mess of a life.”

Shonda Rhymes (creator of TV shows Gray’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal) tells about her need to surrender control to the process, as she adopted her daughters, as does actress Mary-Louise Parker and many others who had children previously or were adopting for their first time.

All of the parents who adopted also spoke about learning how to balance doing what they could for the process to move forward and simultaneously letting go of what was beyond their grasp or ability to change. Some might liken it to an adoption parent’s version of 12-step programs’ serenity prayer.

The section titled Early Challenges is especially helpful and necessary to give readers an objective perspective of the difficulties that can arise in the midst of all the goodness and joy. Physical and mental health issues, birth parents changing their minds, governments saying “no” at the last minute, adopted children having difficulty adjusting to a new environment and language, etc. can all take place before, during, and after adoption, just as painful issues can arise with biological children.

Carried in Our Hearts proclaims to contain stories from “families created across continents,” which may lead one to believe that the essays include a variety of adoptive parents (culturally, nationally, and of various financial means), but the reality is that ninety percent of the families who speak about their experience in the book are not only privileged white Americans, but also predominantly from the New York area.

This is not surprising due to the author’s circle of contacts and practice, but it would have added an enriching depth and perspective if there had been as much diversity with the adoptive parents as there is with the children who were adopted.

There is also only one story about an adoption not working out and the child being returned to the orphanage or childcare center. There may be fewer unsuccessful adoptions internationally (which is the primary focus of this collection), but on a local level there is a higher percentage (as much as 50% in some areas), in which the children do not stay in the adoptive home.

Whether you have children, are thinking of having children, thought about adopting or adopted hundreds, Carried in Our Hearts is an inspirational and timely collection. There is great care, hope, and love in these pages.

*****

Read complete review and more at New York Journal of Books.

Reviewer Gabriel Constans’s books include Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call; Good Grief, Love, Loss & Laughter; The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales; and The Last Conception (coming in 2014). He is the father of five children (two adopted) and is closely associated with the Rwandan Orphan’s Project and the Ihangane Project, both in Rwanda.

Adopt A Dolphin

Dear Gabriel,

dolphin_adoptionDolphins, like humans, use calls to communicate and stay together.

But if blasted constantly by seismic testing for oil, it’s easy for babies and mothers to get separated.

Adopt a dolphin»

Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals on Earth. A mother and baby will use calls to communicate, just like humans.

They also form tight bonds with each other, seeming to grieve for lost family members.

Those emotional bonds are too often ripped apart. Seismic testing for oil drilling can send noise blasts hundreds of miles, every 10 seconds for weeks, which harm dolphins and drown out their voices.

With one simple act – adopting a dolphin – you can play a big role in saving baby dolphins from that deafening noise.

Oceana’s comprehensive campaign to stop seismic testing in the Atlantic and implement stronger international bycatch rules is pushing us closer to a day when these gentle, smart creatures are safe.

Adopting a dolphin with the Dolphin Gift Pack Adoption means getting:

• A cozy stuffed dolphin for you or your loved one
• Personalized adoption certificate
• Dolphin cookie cutter
• Seasonal cookie recipe

We’ll do the gift wrapping for you for just $5!

Each adoption helps fund our work around the world – from protecting sea turtles and whales from drowning in fishing nets, to keeping oil drilling out of the Arctic, to stopping seismic blasts from harming dolphins.

Cross some gifts off your list with animal adoptions from Oceana.

If you’re interested in adopting a different ocean animal, browse our online adoption center to see all of our great selections.

For dolphins and all other ocean creatures,
Emily Fisher
Oceana

Adopt A Penguin

Dear Gabriel,

Adopt a penguin!

PenguinPlush

The holiday season is upon us, and what better gift to give the ocean lover in your life than a cuddly penguin? Adopt a penguin or other animal from our adoption center and recieve a soft plush or a unique cookie cutter gift in return! All proceeds go towards our work protecting the world’s oceans. We’re currently offering free shipping with no minimum, and if you use the coupon code EARLYBIRD by December 1 you’ll get 10% off your order!

Click here to adopt a penguin today>>>

Oceana

Gay Adoption Advocate

From Nation of Change
16 April 2012

CNN Includes Gay Adoption Advocate in ‘Heros’ Series

CNN has named David Wing-Kovarik, who founded Families Like Ours to help gay and lesbian people adopt children from the foster system, as one of its Heroes of 2012. “I’m fighting for the right of that child to have that family,” Wing Kovarik says. “It’s why I keep doing it every single day.” Watch a short segment about his work:

http://www.nationofchange.org/cnn-includes-gay-adoption-advocate-heros-series-1334592700

Family Survives Adoption Process

Keep your eye out for this book – This is Us: The New All-American Family by David Marin. It’s set to be published in September by Exterminating Angel Press and it’s not only good, but also frustrating, emotionally overwhelming and inspiring.

I was asked to review this book for The New York Journal of Books and am glad to have the privilege to do so. Without saying too much at this time, let it suffice to say that this is not only a story about a single man adopting 3 young children, but also about a broken Social Service system and someone who had the guts and determination to stay with it and go into the unknown, not only for the children, but because it began to define who he was and what he stands for.

We’ve had friends trying to adopt some siblings for over 2 years now and they’ve been put through the ringer (literally). Many of the instances described in this book ring a familiar bell, as they have experienced similar set-backs and bureaucratic back-stabbing that has no place in the process.

Don’t forget the title, This is Us.

Father Doesn’t Know Best

Father Knows Best was a show from the late fifties, that portrayed the father as someone who always had the answers and wisdom for life’s lessons and problems. He freely shared his insight when asked and it was of course, always right. In later years, The Cosby Show had a similar father figure, though he could also make you laugh. In my experience, I’ve never had all the answers, known what to do (for sure) or imparted any great wisdom to our children. I’ve tried to be the best example I can, but it seems to be an ongoing education that continues regardless of their age or circumstances.

First, our oldest daughter moved out. The next to oldest daughter left soon after. Then, our first-born son went his way and his older brother followed suit. There is one remaining at home. He just graduated and starts community college this fall.

Our oldest daughter and her wife, who lives just 1/2 mile away, had a beautiful baby daughter a few months ago. Her childhood friend (who we have known for almost 2 decades) just had a little boy a week before that and we’ve gladly offered to babysit. Our daughter and her husband, who lives in Seattle, have an amazing 2 year old son. Then, there are our friends who are in the process of adopting a brother and sister (5 & 7), who they have foster cared for almost 2 years, whom I also love to support and spend time with. And two of our 3 sons plan to have children some day.

When it comes down to it, we haven’t “lost” anybody who has left home, but only gained more wonderful beings to the family and increased the amount of love and care to go around. Completing the circle, are all the wonderful children at the ROP Center for Street Children in Rwanda and those there caring for them.

I’ve known I wanted to parent children since I was sixteen. It looks like my wish has come true 10 fold and will always be a part of my life until my last breath as a human. Sure, I love my wife and our time alone and being able to do things we couldn’t always do when children were living with us 24X7, but it is also an awesome and wonderful responsibility to support, perhaps guide and nurture other precious beings and make a difference in their lives and hopefully, their hearts. I know I rarely know anything or have any answers like the Dad’s on those old TV shows, but that’s doesn’t matter. I’m OK with not knowing or being perfect and hopefully they are too.

The Vital Ingredient

One mother, two mothers, three mothers or four – we can never have enough love and care for our children. One father, two fathers or more – we can never provide too much love and care for our children. Raised by a grandparent, a brother or and aunt – there is never too much love to go around. One mother and a father, a stepfather and/or a stepmother – there is never too much support, stability and loving presence for our children.

If children are our most precious resource (which is repeatedly mouthed by politicians and religious leaders), what difference does it make if their parent(s) and/or those willing to adopt them, are gay, heterosexual, bisexual, asexual, black, white or brown? The arguments against adoption by gay or different colored parents become increasingly ludicrous, unsubstantiated and unsupportable.

Everyone, who knows or is a gay parent, understands that sexuality has nothing to do with one’s ability to care for children. Every significant study of children raised by gay or different colored parents over the last two decades has shown there is no difference (other than a slightly safer home environment in lesbian households than in heterosexual ones) in how well-adjusted, successful and happy their children are as adults. Nor is there any significant difference in the percentage of children that become adults and identify themselves as heterosexual or gay, than in those raised in households with a heterosexual mother and father.

Our family has experienced almost every kind of parenting. From a previous marriage I have two amazing children. As a single father I adopted a wonderful son. After re-marrying we became foster parents to an incredible daughter and my wife birthed a beautiful little boy. The only kind of parenting I haven’t experienced is that of being a gay parent and/or a different color then our children, but many friends have had that experience and continue to provide their children the love and support we all need growing up.

I’ll never forget the birth of our friend’s daughter almost twenty-five years ago. She was a bright joyous addition to our world and is now a delightful, intelligent young woman, secure in herself and her own sexuality. She grew up with two moms and had as much or more love and opportunity than most.

Another friend adopted a boy and a girl who are both well adjusted, happy adults who fondly visit their parents and call them both Dad.

One of my foster sisters adopted an incredible little girl with multiple physical problems as a baby and continues to raise her, as a single, gay mom and is helping her grow into a healthy assured teen.

Even though my wife and I both identify our selves as heterosexual, one of my sons and one of our daughters are gay. They will make wonderful parents, not because of their sexuality or gender, but because they are good, caring, respectful human beings.

Common sense and human decency shows us the advantages of providing permanent safe homes for our children. Being part of a responsible, nurturing family with boundaries, limits and an ongoing container of love are the vital ingredients of a good home, not the color of the parents or guardians skin or their sexual orientation.

If some people, acting out of their own religious or political beliefs, choose to make or support ignorance and outdated laws that separate, divide and/or condemn others because of their race or sexuality, that is their sad right. On the other hand, if they really want to support “the family” and wish to make a lasting difference in the health of our nation, they can open their eyes and hearts and lend a hand to those who have taken on one of the toughest, most frustrating and satisfying jobs in the world – parenting.

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