photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, March 14, 2011

His Brother's Keeper

I recently had lunch with my adopted son- two days before he left to take a job overseas for at least six months.

We were talking about Alec, and Jordan kiddingly said something along the lines of "That kid's gonna need a lot of therapy".

Since he was 2, Alec has seen his dad be rearranged and rebuilt from the cancer and graft replacements Ward's needed. We've spent obscene amounts of time in the bowels of the cancer hospital, which is not something most kids have to deal with.

We home school, not because we seek to shelter him from the evils of the world, but because there's no way the confines of a school can teach him all the world has to offer. I have two photographs from a few years ago- the first was taken in Audubon Park in New Orleans, reasonably close to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The second one was taken 6 weeks later in Minnesota where you can hop across a tiny creek- the beginning of the self-same river. Public school field trips to the fire station sort of pale in comparison...

He's been to 26 of the 50 far. One benefit of spending so much time in Houston (at the hospital) has been our proximity to many of the finest museums in the country.

Although we didn't plan on cancer, home schooling has meant that I don't have to choose between leaving Alec here with friends so he doesn't miss school, or dropping Ward on the curb of the hospital. We pack up school and just go.

We don't have blood relations close to us, so have knit together a family that's proven even stronger than blood, and outwardly even stranger than fiction.

Were he in school, he'd only associate with children his own age all day every day, but he's with all ages in tae kwon do and art class, and adults in the hospital and here at home. He's comfortable in every situation, from asking pertinent questions of a museum curator to ordering at a good (read "the food is not in styrofoam boxes") restaurant to finding his way through the miles and mazes of MD Anderson Cancer Hospital to maneuvering our farm in the dark by moonlight on his bike.

When asked about the all-important "socialization" that being in school would provide, the indignity of having to ask permission to pee, the indoctrination of conditioning to react to bells and alarms and not questioning authority, dealing with bullies on the playground, jockeying for position in the jungle of monocultural social clique bullshit I'd laugh, but it's not funny. All I can say is considering what he's faced with grace and bravery, and the maturity and compassion he possesses, I think he'll do roughly 700% better in life than any of the mean little bastards pushing smaller children around for fun when the teacher's back is turned.

Were we in church, we'd be surrounded by people fundamentally the same (pun intended). But we're not. He's been exposed to all types of religion and beliefs and is forming his own opinions on how the Universe works and his place in it.

Among our adopted family members are people of all races, political ideologies, ages, religions, sexual orientations and tax brackets.

And here's the thing.

They all share one very important trait.

Every last one of them cares. They care for their friends and they care for their family. At one time or another they've every one of them been there for us and cared for us, as we strive to do for them.

Every last one of them has shown our son what it is to be human, and good, and decent.

If our son has learned not to be part of his peer group, or part of his church group, or even part of his race or parents' political leanings group, but to look first to the inside of a person- the literal "content of their character", then my contention is not that he'll need therapy because of his raising

but he'll be one of the lucky few of us who doesn't.

Be safe, Jordan- we love you.


  1. I love this post! More and more, as time goes by, I regret not homeschooling my own. I've always believed it to be better but it just wasn't something that I could make happen back then. Good for you, and for your kids. They sound like an amazing bunch!!

  2. Thanks, jojo! My first 2 went through public school and turned out just fine. I thought about home schooling back then, but I was more apt to be swayed by "public opinion" back then. (Boy how times have changed, hey? LOL)

    There's 14 years between my 2nd and 3rd baby- I'm an ol' radical now :)

    And all my kids- both by birth and "adopted" are truly amazing- they all teach me something new every day.

    *Have a great day with Maudie- my house was never sparkling clean when I had rocking age babies- and you know what? All that dust and mess waited for me just fine but the babies were gone in a heartbeat...