It is 14-degrees, and the air has a brutal, bitter bite. I delivered Jose to his National Guard drill at 7:30am, and the sky was heavy with frost.
Last night I taught a pre-adoption class at ACTION Adoption Services, and it dealt “grief, loss and separation.” It’s a tough topic to teach, and one of my least favorites because of it’s heavy nature.
On the way to ACTION, Jose and I were talking, and we discussed some of his own past, and how he is still dealing with certain things. As we continued our way to the agency, it occurred to me that my own life was not far removed from my son’s.
My own birth father was an alcoholic, and abandoned my family when I was eleven. I don’t think that sense of abandonment from a parent ever truly leaves one. Despite having a fantastic grandfather (Leroy Barmes) and uncles (Garry Jolliff, Ron & Tom Barmes) who often stepped in to fill this empty role in my life, I was still missing having a real dad of my own.
Perhaps that is why my sons are adopted around the same age I was when we were abandoned. Whatever the reason, at least I get to be the dad I never had, and for this I am so blessed.
We arrived at the agency and as I was signing in, it dawned on me that it was the 26th anniversary of my birth father’s death… almost to the minute.
Twenty-six years ago there was little consideration for the loss. Mother had just remarried, I was making great strides in college, and the events that dropped before me in 1984 were opportunities to start life over again. A fresh new start with renewed hope built upon the foundation established by my mother.
And a fresh start it was…
The topic of last night’s class dealt with how we work with hurt children, and how we offer them fresh start’s. When we discussed birth parents, I explained to the prospective adoptive parents that so often, the birth parents are not necessarily bad people – they have just made bad choices. My birth father had a number of good qualities, but he just did not have all the tools he needed in life due to his own childhood, and the alcoholism that preceded his own generation.
Twenty-six years later, even after moving on to wonderful careers and sharing life with our wonderful families, my brother, Destin, and I have changed the course of our paternal history. We possess many traits of our birth father, and rightfully so. I do recall the affection, and tenderness he generously shared when I was young, and I see that component shining through Destin, and myself. Destin and I have a deep passion for history, and that, too, was something our birth father dearly loved.
Monday, my newest son arrives. While being “Dad,” I also have the responsibility of assisting Quintin on his own journey of moving on. Sometimes this is easy, and other times it is a challenge. Quintin is chomping at the bit to move on, and desperately wants this new start at life. I am sure my sons look at me, never believing that I was once in their shoes. It will, once again, be my turn to share life tools with a new son, and the opportunity to fortify, even rebuild if necessary, his own foundation.
I am so grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to move on in my own life. Even more, I am grateful and blessed to assist my own sons in their journeys of moving on.
Everything happens for a reason. Of this, I am quite certain.