Friday, June 06, 2008

Fletcher Family Friday Fun Day -- Year Two Day One

It is the first day of summer vacation for our children. Claudia and our two newest kids are out of state visiting her parents in Arizona (they left early on Tuesday morning and will return tomorrow, Saturday, night). The rest of us (well, except for our oldest daughter, who has pretty much been at her friends day and night) have been slogging through a very difficult day. Transitions are always so awful for our family, and I almost always forget that until the transition is upon us. I spent yesterday feeling pretty enthused about spending the first day of summer vacation with our kids, but it is not mid-afternoon, and I have endured too many moment of blatant defiance, obnoxious verbal assaults and the perpetual "I'm bored, Dad," from our second-to-the-youngest son. I am a very patient man, but today my patience has been exhausted.

In an effort to make the day a positive one I planned our first Fletcher Family Friday Fun Day -- Year Two, Day One. We began this last summer as an effort to do some positive, educational, get-out-of-the-house-so-mom-can-work-unassailed days. Most every Friday last summer we set off to a location to visit a historical site, or to camp, or to do something interesting together. We will be doing it again this summer.

Today's venture was close to home, but provided us a few hours away from the house. We visited the W. W. Mayo House in LeSueur, Minnesota, which is where the Doctors Mayo spent six of their earliest years of life. The elder Dr. Mayo (the father) emigrated to the USA from England in the early 1800s and by the mid-1800s the family found themselves in LeSueur, a small town on the Minnesota River, which at the time Minnesota became a Territory, was a bustling part of our state. The house was considered nice for its day (although it was nothing extraordinary even then), but by today's standards is quite tiny. The rooms, furniture and spaces public and private are so very miniscule compared to our expectations in the 2000's.

The Mayo Brothers would eventually move to Rochester, Minnesota, where together they would found what would become the biggest hospital in the United States. Today "Mayo Clinic" is associated with top-notch research and health care, and is often the place where US dignitaries (including presidents) and foreign heads-of-state receive medical care. It is impressive to consider what has become of their legacy.

I was also captured by what the Mayo Brothers had to say about the esteem they garnered while they were yet living. Dr. Charles Horace Mayo said, "The biggest thing Will and I ever did was to pick the father and mother we had." His brother, Will, attributed their success as follows: "We have accomplished much, my brother and I, but we should have done great things; we were given the opportunity. We were born at the right time and to the right parents."

I have been musing on these words all afternoon, considering how our children's lives have been changed because they have been adopted. To be sure some of them will have lives that are as troubled with us as they would have been had they never been adopted. Our son Mike, for example, who is now in court-ordered chemical dependency treatment (and then back to jail) may never have a life all that different. But, he had the opportunity. He had a chance that he might not have otherwise had. And, I am reminded, that at the young age of nineteen he may still have more of a chance if he decides to move beyond what he has become so recently enmeshed in.

Our oldest son Kyle had the opportunity to grasp success and took it. He left home four years after high school graduation to attend a private college, and graduated four years later with a 3.25 GPA and a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Would his life looked the same if he had aged out of foster care? Or if he had stayed with birthparents whose lives were ravaged by histories of neglect, chemical dependency and skirmishes with the law? I really doubt it. And, in a real sense, like the brothers Mayo, Kyle "chose" his (adopted) mother and father. He didn't have much choice as to where he would live and with whom (as he regularly has reminded us over the years), but I remember the conversation I had early after his arrival with us. I said, "Kyle, we have chosen you to be our son. You did not have a choice in that. There will be moments when both you and we will regret that. But at some point I want you to decide that we will become your mom and dad. We will wait for you to make that decision, and we will love you. In fact, we will love you whether you choose us or not, but it will certainly make things easier for all of us when you do." He decided within a number of days that I would be his dad (until that point he had called me by my first name), and later decided Claudia would be his mom (another story for another day). Kyle was adopted at the right time and with the right parents so that he could accomplish something of his life.

Our other children have similar stories, although it is probably too soon to tell with most of them. They are still at home and young enough that much is yet to come before they make their foray into young adulthood and leave the nest. But for today I am holding on to the hope that God has somehow placed these kids in our lives at just the right time so that they have a chance to accomplish more than most would predict.

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