Friday, April 20, 2007

It's Not What I Ever Intended

It's a difficult thing to make choices based upon foundational principles, because it creates an additional bind that most of us would prefer not to have. Most of us are fine with making decisions as long as we can, at some point in time, back out of them if necessary. That kind of decision-making does not necessarily emerge out of deeply held convictions.

When Claudia and I chose to adopt, we did so from very solid foundations. As committed Christians, we didn't have to look far for biblical justification for caring for the "orphan, the widow and the dispossessed." Both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are filled with such admonitions. As people of faith with sensitive social consciences, we didn't need much convincing of the social evil that "kids aging out of the system" involves. And while we did not (and still do not) consider ourselves all that special, we believe that adopting children from foster care is something that God calls us to do and something that God blesses.

We intended, from the beginning, to prevent children from facing homelessness when they reached the magic age of majority, eighteen. (I often wonder why eighteen has been established as the age of majority, but that's the subject for another blog another day). So, suffice it to say that it feels pretty bad to know that our most recently-turned 18-year-old son is technically "homeless." He doesn't realize that yet because he's only been away a couple days away from the half-way house from which he was expelled, and I'm sure in his mind he's thinking that eventually the law or someone will catch up with him, but technically he is "homeless."

He is homeless because social services has no legal responsibility or concern for someone who is legally an adult. He is homeless because his probation officer has no viable options for him, unless (or until) he reoffends, and this time as an adult the consequences will be much more severe. He is homeless because Claudia and I cannot allow him to live in our home with his drug-using, thieving, negatively-impacting-our-other-children ways. It's makes us uncomfortable knowing that he is "on the loose," beause we have too much experience from the past which reminds of the numerous times bikes, medication, money, family valuables, and other items have been pilfered from our home.

But mostly it makes me uncomfortable because it strains my own foundational principles. I mean the reason we decided to adopt children in the first place is to help prevent homelessness. But I'm beginning to realize that having a home is as much a decision the child/young adult needs to appreciate as it is for the parents/adults to provide. There have to be some bases of trust and cooperation in order for any home to function in a healthy way.

This is not what I ever intended, and while I don't like the bind it puts us into, I have to believe that morally it is as important (if not more important) for us to ensure the health and tranquility of our other minor children who still have important years of growing up ahead of them.


Kathleenb said...

Amen. And it's important to continue to hold your son to the same standards you've held for him and the others all along. You can't give in just because he's facing bad circumstances. After all, he chose this.

We're getting closer and closer to a similar place.

Yondalla said...

I too have allowed a child to be homeless even though I never thought I would. Sometimes we parent them by taking care of them. Sometimes we parent them by expressing faith that they CAN take care of themselves, if they will.

Sometimes I think I need the serenity prayer tatooed onto the back of my hand.

Mike said...


As a longtime reader of Claudia's blog, I'm so sorry to hear that. Are you open to meeting with him and telling him how much you still love him, and will always love him, regardless of the bad choices he makes?

Bart said...

Mike, we have repeatedly done this with Mike. He has been in countless placements over the years, and we have always assured him of our love and that we will always be his family no matter where he happens to reside. Because of our son's attachment issues, the whole "we love you" thing has done little more than make us feel better. But at least there's that. I'm sure we will see Mike again at some point in the future, and again we will remind him that we love him, but that he cannot live with us while he is using, stealing, breaking and entering and terrorizing the rest of our family.

Yondalla said...

I nominated you for a "Thinking Blogger Award" in my post:

The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

(I don't know enough html to put hyperlinks into a comment, so you will have to cut and paste to get to my post and the to the originating post mentioned in #2)