A Lesson from Irene and Jimmy
Jimmy was eleven years old when he was adopted. His mom said that she’d assumed she couldn’t adopt. “I was single, I worked, and I was going to school.” Her friends encouraged her to learn about adopting, and before she knew it she’d met Jimmy and couldn’t get him out of her mind.
It was a relatively smooth adjustment, as big changes go and despite the fact that Irene was in law school.
Irene had raised two children by birth, so she thought she knew what to expect. But the early days brought some surprises for her.
“There were some unsettling things …. I didn’t know what he didn’t know,” she said. “I took for granted that he would have had the same kinds of childhood experiences I did. But he hadn’t been to a circus, he didn’t know what a pineapple was, and he said he’d never eaten peanut butter.”
Jimmy had been in foster care for several years and had taken on a sense of responsibility for himself that no youngster should have to assume. He tried to look like an adult on the outside, but on the inside he was still a little boy.
The time Irene spent with him on her lap in a favorite rocking chair helped release Jimmy from that heavy responsibility and allow himself to be a child with an adult to care for him.
In the early months Jimmy didn’t ask to go outside and play, or to use the telephone to call his new friends. But slowly he began to discover a new role for himself. In time he could be found riding his bike or hanging out with friends he met in his Scout troop. . . coming home dirty, like boys should.
Jimmy thrived, and so has Irene. “You don’t have to be rich, or give them everything they desire…just share with them what you have,” she says.
That’s good advice for all of us – whether we work in adoption, are parents, volunteers, or find ways to support the children and their families.
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