Before adopting thirteen children, my husband and I volunteered through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program. It is a nationwide organization that facilitates matches where you would mentor an inner city child that has a need whether it be poverty, dysfunctional home, loss of a mother or father or foster care.
My little girl was matched at age 6 and my husband and I loved her dearly, but that is another story for another time. It can also be found in my first book, PHOENIX BOUND: An adoptive mom of 13 shares her struggle raising traumatized children.
My husband’s match was a 10 year old boy living in the projects of a nearby city. His mother struggled with depression and his father struggled with a Heroin addiction. This boy needed someone desperately and so, we took on the challenge. We adored him, as well as his little sister, older sisters, mother and father. It wasn’t always easy to keep this boy entertained because he was a city kid and we were country people. He often had difficulty slowing down his pace and enjoying the peace and beauty around him. He enjoyed movies, electronics and being busy. We introduced him to a new life and a new way at looking at life. He rode a horse and go-karts and went swimming. He went to amusement parks, ice skating, basketball camps, zoos, museums, ballgames and made homemade ice cream by rolling it down a hill in a can. I shared my homemade applesauce, strawberry jam, hot peppers, and spaghetti sauce with his family. At one point, we were even prepared to pay for his high school education at a local private school to get him out of the poverty stricken dangerous city school settings.
I am not writing this because I am bragging about all that we have done. In reality, we often struggled to connect and wondered if he was benefiting at all from our time and energies. We did not witness him rising above his situation and going to college. Actually, he struggled with breaking his family’s cycle and his little sister had a baby at age 14. We stayed in touch with them through the years of our parenting thirteen children. We have helped him out here and there when he has called us and he has always been impressed with our willingness to help him so quickly.
The other day, my husband got a phone call. It was the boy, now in his early thirties. He wanted to thank my husband and I for all that we did and to proudly announce that he was finally getting his GED. He told my husband that he and I were the only people in his life that demonstrated what a family looked like. He was the only father he knew that had a stable job, went to work every day, and tried to better himself and his family. We were the only ones who had a bank account and a steady income. We were the only role models that he could look at and want to emulate.
Sometimes when we think what we do is a waste of time or does not make any difference, we are wrong. Everything we do and everything we say makes an impact. It is important to do what we can, to make a positive difference in people’s lives! But we may not know how much of an impact we made and we need to be ok with that until it is unveiled to us. Go and make the world a better place!