Years ago, after a serious back operation, my son Gilbert got very very sick. It was touch and go for a while and it was very scary. I remember calling my aunt from the hospital every day…. I was 33 and I needed her every one of those hospital days.
Years after that, my son Irving died, and for various reasons, I buried him in Puerto Rico. I came home to JFK airport to a furious February snowstorm and I drove in it in the middle of the night all the way out on Long Island to my aunt and uncles’ house…. I was 43 and I needed them desperately that night of the day I’d buried Irving.
In between, my son Rodney graduated from college. My aunt and uncle drove all the way to Albany to go to the ceremony. They were in their late 60s…..I was 38 and I was so thankful to have my “folks” there for my son.
You get the point: people need and want their families, specifically their parents, despite being adults. Turning 18 or 21 doesn’t end that need. We just don’t realize it as a need, if we’ve always had them there, and have never felt the emptiness of their being gone. It’s not the need of a kid: it’s the need of a person.
Yesterday, I was referred to, and today I watched, a great video, on YouTube, about older teens and adoption. It was so good, and so accurate, that I was knocked out by it and want everyone to know about it.
[“We Interrupt” produced by Ampersand Families, a fairly new adoption agency out of Minnesota. It is broken into two parts, labeled Part One and Part Two]
Immediately afterwards, I went to the website of “Ampersand Families” and found this statement on permanency:
“Permanency is not a single placement, it is not a plan, it is not a program. It is not what some call ‘long-term foster care’ or ‘permanent foster care’ – there is no such thing, as foster care is designed to be temporary. It is not an Independent Living Skills class. Permanency is a knowing, deep within, that you belong somewhere with someone…..”
Yes. Yes. Yes. And that belonging “somewhere with someone” is always a gift from the “someone.” Ampersand Families recognizes that it is never something you can earn – it must always be given to you. It may not be appreciated till it’s gone, but it always gives us an answer to the question that I heard on the video and knew immediately would be the title of this post.
Who do I call?
Nobody should ever have to say: “I have never had any one to call.”
OK, Jack, so now I’ve started off my morning with tears in my eyes. Not because I feel sorry for the children, but out of the frustration that so many people just don’t get it! It makes so much sense, and yet so many “well meaning” or “good hearted” adults – both foster or pre-adoptive folks, and adoption professionals – can’t? won’t? aren’t capable of? understanding what is REALLY going on with these children.
There are so many phrases in this piece that I want to put on a T-shirt and wear out in public for all to see! But of all of them, one section really got me. It seems to sum up the children’s perspective about how they are made to feel they are to blame for what has happened to them. So with your indulgence, Jack, I want to post it here. FOLKS – GET THIS!
“When I’m really nice, they say I’m manipulating. When I honestly say what I think or feel, they say I’m being disrespectful. When I keep my mouth shut, they say I’m stubborn. Workers talk about how I have attachment problems, then they move me five times, to five different sets of “parents,” and make me switch schools. Basically I have to throw away my life and start over each time.”
This story came to my mind immediately upon reading your post.
My 21 year old son who is away at college called last night. He almost never calls. Last night after a few innocuous questions on my part and his uninformative responses he suddenly said “Oh yeah, I was in a car the other night that hit a deer”. His friend was driving. I asked if anyone was hurt and he reassured me he and everyone else in the car were OK but his friend’s car was damaged and the deer ran off… badly injured. As I listened to him tell me about the accident, I thought to myself about when I was driving a car by myself and hit a deer and how scary it was for me. After getting off the phone with him it occurred to me that he must have been scared and wanted to tell me.
It boggles the mind that there are so many young adults out there with no one to call.