Monday, March 21, 2011

What deadbeat parents leave behind

I was in a Walgreens the other day, standing behind someone returning some merchandise. Fairly painless because Walgreens will take back anything, anytime for any reason. If it costs them money, no problem--they just jack up prices for the rest of us honest consumers.

But the point of this post isn't to rag on Walgreens for their return policy.

The point is how come we can't do the same with deadbeat parents?

I was talking to my eighteen-year-old cousin, who in actuality is more like a niece to my wife and I. My paternal grandfather had eight brothers and sisters, spread out over a period of almost twenty-five years. That means for a lot of second and third cousins with some huge age variances.

Anyhow, my cousin was telling me about one of her best friends and how the girl's parents had formally disowned the child, and done so a long time ago, leaving the young lady to fend for herself, literally and figuratively. The young lady now, understandably, has some issues.

The crapper here is that the deadbeat parents who decided they didn't want to be parents way back when they disowned her, those parents will not be nor ever be held accountable for the problems their child is having.

Now, the young lady in question is not criminal--not even close. She isn't pregnant nor has she ever been. No drugs, no booze.

Just a frightened young woman dealing with the emotional minefield of why her own parents suddenly decided they didn't want her.

My question is why didn't the parents simply turn their daughter over to someone who WOULD want her and love her? I doubt the selfish sonsofbitches could answer that question. But I'd sure like to ask them. In person.

I'm a huge fan of adoption. I support it, and late last year, decided to get involved by doing more than simply writing a check and donating money here and there. I signed up to volunteer to be a mentor to some of these kids. To be a friend, a confidant, someone they could trust and count on.

In other words, someone who wouldn't disown them.

I know family courts are overworked. I know--because the training I had to take and am still taking tells me so--that a family court judge's primary goal is to keep the family united. In many respects, I can understand and accept that.

But when a sperm-donor and egg-recipient (aka: biological father and biological mother) formally disown their own child, and in her early teenage years, there is no longer any family to keep together.

Worse yet, the child feels responsible and carries the guilt.

As of December of last year, there were almost 13,000 kids under the age of eighteen awaiting adoption in Texas alone. Across the entire U.S., there are over 300,000 kids waiting on those magic words from their caseworker of "Good news! We have a family interested in adopting you."


The overwhelming majority of these children are teenagers. Nobody wants teens. They come with baggage. They may never call you "mom" or "dad." They may have attitudes. They may be surly. They may have developmental problems and they may have emotional needs.

But that's what commitment is all about. Good with the bad. Having the patience to ride out storms. Having the courage and the sword to help these young people confront their emotional demons, then slay them.

And yet, many of those emotional needs are only listed as "mild," which in translation means the kids are just ordinary teenagers who are more than a little shaken up over having been in a bad home--with deadbeat parents--and are now in a foster home and wondering why nobody loves them.

That kind of situation would make any of us a little emotionally needy.

Look here: ""

These are but just a smattering of the children here in Texas alone that are awaiting a forever family, a family that will love them rather than disown them.

If you search on a national scale, you'll find even more kids waiting on a forever family and home. ""

This is what deadbeat parents leave behind, which is why I have two wishes:

1. I wish there were more than enough families and homes out there to give these beautiful kids the family and home they truly deserve, and

2. I wish we could put deadbeat parents in jail. We already do that, allegedly, to deadbeat dads--but that's only for not paying monetary child support. What about the deadbeat parents who abandon their kids because they simply no longer want them?

I wish I had an answer. I wish anyone had an answer.

Give these kids a shot at a brand new life. And remember: When you reach out and take a chance, these kids are taking a chance on you too.

But isn't that what love is really about? Love is what moves us to take chances with people. Faith is what ensures us it will work out.

Let's find good, loving, forever homes for these children.

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