My dentist and his wife have 11 children. Every time I go into their office, I see pictures of a proud, happy and large family. I have also wondered why they chose to adopt so many. I wondered about psychological reasons for doing such a thing, what is it that they were lacking in their lives that made them feel compelled to adopt 11 kids. At times I have been awed by that, and overwhelmed by the sheer nature of the very fact itself. In evaluating that circumstance, which has very little to do with me or the fact that he is my dentist, I have always taken a sort of distant, logical kind of approach to it. I never stopped to think about something that was very vital to it. Maybe there wasn’t some lacking in their mental stability that caused it to happen. Maybe there was never some weird thing about it. Maybe it was about something much more basic and simple. Maybe, it was love.
One of my son’s friends lives in a permanent foster care facility. I didn’t know there were places like that. It never occurred to me that “long term care” was ever required for children in a way that parents couldn’t provide. I never stopped to think about it. Obviously, the facts were there. Kids are in foster care, sure some kids become wards of the state. The difference is, it never touched me. I have never known or known of anyone in that specific circumstance before. When I found out, I was overwhelmed with this very rough and raw emotion. Part of me hurts for this child in a way that I can’t possibly describe. It’s a new sort of pain, a pain for something I have no power to change. In my life, no matter how bad things have been, I have always had the power to change it, but this.. this is different. No matter how much I hurt, or how badly I want to fix it, I cannot make this child’s parents give what the child needs the most. Their love.
No, I’m not going to run out and adopt nine more children. I’ve just never felt so powerless or helpless before. I want to stop it. I want to run up to this kid’s mom and dad and say “What are you thinking? This is your child! This is the most important thing you will ever do in your life!” But I can’t.
I can’t, and because I can’t, I have turned toward the introspective side of myself. The part that I engage with when I really, really need to and now all I can think about is how goddamned lucky I am. Even though my parents weren’t perfect people (who is?) and I am sure there were things they could have done better– though I am hard-pressed to think of what that might be– I have never doubted that they loved me. My whole life, I have been loved and have known that I was worthy of being loved. It’s hard for me to imagine that there are people out there that don’t have that very simple knowledge to join them down the path of life. That simple knowledge has given me courage when I’ve needed it, given me strength when I felt I couldn’t carry on and supported me when I needed to be held up. Without it, I wouldn’t be who and what I am. It is so much a core part of the foundation of myself, that I can’t comprehend a world without it, and the very idea of such a thing pains me.
When you say your prayers tonight, slip a word in for all of the kids in the world who don’t know that they are loved the way many others of us do. We are so very lucky, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t spread it around.