There’s an old house sitting vacant in our town.
It was a grand structure in its day, designed by the
best architect, built by the most sought-after builder,
and belonging to a prominent family who owned a
local high-end department store. Known as the “Hinds Mansion”, the house has six bedrooms and five bathrooms! A mansion by my estimation, and to most folks, I would imagine. However, it has been empty for almost four years now, with all the Hinds family long gone. Why hasn’t it sold? Doesn’t anyone want this big house, with a fenced yard as big as a park, and a three-car garage? Is it worth updating the electrical, remodeling the kitchen, redoing floors, plumbing and the like? My father was an architect, and my mother sold real estate…. I know what it could be worth! Or do I?
In 2008, my husband and I took a road trip with our youngest two children, Aaron (12) and Nathan (10), and our 17-year-old niece, Amanda, who stayed with us for 18 months after her mom- my younger sister-- drowned. The trip was actually my “East Coast & New England Tour”, traveling through 14 states and 4,000 miles, giving concerts and teaching a songwriting workshop. Our travels took us to West Virginia, where I was singing at a church in Charleston. When my mother learned of our stopover in WV, she reminded me that my little “long-lost cousin, Jeffery”, lived there. She put us in touch with Jeffery’s grandmother, who was raising him, along with a baby half-sister. Their mother was still using drugs, and had lost all rights to the children. We spent an hour playing with and taking pictures of the children at the park, then reluctantly said our good-byes to head back toward our home in Oklahoma. When I handed little Jaycie back to her aunt and grandmother, little Jaycie reached her arms back toward me and began to cry. Of course I began crying, then my son, my niece, Jeffery, his aunt, and his grandmother. What was happening?
I had the most overwhelming sense as I tearfully got back in our minivan that these were going to be our children. It was a preposterous thought, since we also had five grown children, making 8 in total, already. I didn’t say a word to my husband, fearing he’d drop me on the roadside in Kentucky, telling me I was crazy! The magnetic pull between each of us was unexplainable and undeniable, however.
I’d given 8-year-old Jeffery my music CD that day, saying that he could call or write to me any time he wanted. There had been no communication, however, and five months passed. One evening in mid-October, our son Nathan asked, “Mom, if Jeff and Jaycie’s grandma dies, are we going to adopt them?” Again, this seemed an absurd statement, and I told him so… we were virtual strangers to these children, and their aunt would likely adopt them. “Go to bed,” I instructed him. But his question haunted me.
Three weeks later in early November, I received a call from the aunt--- she’d never called me before. “Becky, I just want ya’ll to know that momma died three weeks ago.” Her words were piercing as hot tears stung my cheeks. I felt her pain as one who’d lost loved ones, and also grieved for Jeffery and Jaycie, who now had lost not only their birth mother through no fault of their own, but now had lost their “surrogate mother” in their sweet grandmother. I telephoned my husband at work, who came home immediately. Hank walked into our living room declaring matter-of-factly but with a somber face, “Well, honey, you know what we have to do.” My response, “What??” wasn’t very brave, I suppose….. I DID know. We both knew. In a whirlwind of decisions, phone calls, fingerprints, tears, excitement, fear, and family discussions (our kids were in full agreement), we began the adoption process.
Our new children arrived Feb. 27, 2009, and we celebrated a belated Christmas with them on Feb. 28th, having kept the tree up until they arrived at Jeffery’s request. He’d lost so much… it was the least we could do. After about a two-week “honeymoon” period with our new “babies” (Jeffery was 9, Jaycie was almost 3), we each witnessed some of the issues that come with children who’ve been traumatized. Nothing insurmountable, but not what we were accustomed to. Thinking ourselves “seasoned parents” (my teaching degree, my husband a Child Welfare Supervisor), we felt as equipped as any to deal with whatever might arise. However, we soon discovered how much a child can miss through serious neglect and abuse, particularly in the preschool years. We still often find we are training a 4-year-old in a now 12-year-old’s body, and it’s difficult…. But it’s worth it! Both children have come such a long way… including Jeffery getting all A’s and B’s on his last report card, being chosen Student of the Month, and Jaycie being in the top reading group in Kindergarten and dancing ballet in our kitchen. We’ve seen the positive results that good self-esteem can produce for a child who once had none. We’re sticking with it, working diligently, and laugh a lot amid a few tears!
We’re uncovering treasures in these children who once had no family. We see the diamond that they each are, and cherish who they are—underneath the hurt--- and whom they will become. And, we have the honor, joy and privilege of being “mom and dad”, with all its rewards. A worthy effort--- even better than refurbishing an old house. Hey—I’ll take that old house… it’s a treasure worth restoring. How much more… a child?
Becky Wright is an adoptive mom with a blended family of nine children (plus her niece). She and
her husband, a Child Welfare Supervisor, live in northeastern Oklahoma with their four youngest
children. Ms. Wright is a singer/songwriter and keynote speaker at foster & adoption events
nationwide, and was named 2011 “Female Songwriter of the Year”. She just released her fifth album,
“The Heart of Adoption”, now playing on hundreds of radio stations. She is on Staff at Artists
in Christian Testimony, Intl., a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit organization based in Brentwood, TN. For more
information or to hear or order music, see www.beckywrightsongs.com.