Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Long Are We Parents?

My mother on the left, still a part of our family, parenting and
grand-parenting after all these years....and we are all far
past eighteen years old.

I had a conversation a few days ago with the man who was cutting my hair that has been on my mind.  I had never met him before, so we were talking a little bit about our lives, and the subject of adoption came up.  He commented about how he had considered adoption, but because of his age and circumstances, he thought a teenager would be best for him.  I told him there was a great need for people to adopt teenagers, as it becomes harder to place kids the older they get.  I was impressed to think he would be willing to take on the challenges that come with adopting children who have so much past history long before you arrive.   I was impressed until he said the following, “I’m thinking a sixteen-year-old would be best because then it’s only a two-year commitment.”  I was speechless.  He went on to explain that after they turned eighteen and left the house, then if they wanted to keep in touch, they could, but that there wouldn’t be as much time involved at that point.  I honestly didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t want to say what I really thought, as we were in the middle of a long overdue haircut, and I didn’t want it turning south because I had offended him.  Call me selfish, but I can’t afford a haircut very often!  But, I did want to say something, so I searched for a way to say something like “Never adopt!” in a much nicer way.  As I was contemplating my choice of words, it just got worse.  He said he figured that with older children there would be some kind of interview process where he could say “Hey, do you like dogs?  Because I have two and I need someone who likes dogs.” If they answered yes, they could move on to the next question, and if they said no, he could move on to the next kid.  A type of adoption speed-dating, if you will.

I don’t mean to criticize, because I do think that in his own way, he was trying to make it a good fit for the child, too.  But I think what he really needed to do was put out an ad for a roommate.  I think he wanted companionship and maybe to feel like he was helping, but not quite the full realm of parenthood.  I don’t even want to drag out my commentary on this, because I don’t want to be negative about someone when I don’t really know them.  He was a very nice man.  I just don’t think he has pondered much about what it means to be a dad.  There’s hardly a parent out there who thinks they will be finished when their child turns eighteen.  I want to delve into the world of adopting older children, but I think that is a separate post, so will gather my thoughts on that soon, because I do think it is an amazing thing to do.  And I think I will just leave this up to you to ponder, and be grateful if you have parents who have been in it for the long haul.  Call them up and tell them thank you.

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