Mar 10, 2010 at 7:43 am #1256308
@junctionLocale: Atlanta, GA
This is a very complex story. I won't get into all of the details. They are not really important. It is what it is. A good friend of mine is going to die. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer almost 3 years ago. She has lived with it for a long time… fighting the fight. She had an update from her doctor 2 days ago… 3 to 4 months to live. It's truly heart breaking. We all knew it was going to happen eventually. You are just never prepared. We hope the doctors are wrong. They have been before… she's strong, but her health has been degrading over time. I have a gut feeling that they might be right this time.
What does all this mean, and how does it affect me? Well, she has a little boy. His name is Dalton. He is 6 years old and full of life. He doesn't even know his mom is about to die. Whether that's the right thing to do or not, well that's not my decision. That's up to his mom and what she thinks is best. I have been asked to take care of him, to become his family when she passes away. His father is not in the picture. That's not an option. Without getting into detail, he's better off not living with his father. I have put a lot of thought into this situation, and have decided that I will take on the responsibility, the privilege, of raising her son.
It's going to be a big change in my life. I'm not married, my job keeps me away from home. A lot of changes will have to be made. I'm not worried about the financial aspects of things. His mother has left enough behind to take care of his needs for life. I'm more worried about Dalton's adjustment and mental well being. It will be a tough road ahead. I don't know for certain what i'll do, but I thought I would share. Just needed to vent a little I guess.Mar 10, 2010 at 8:11 am #1584545
Bravo! You have indeed taken on a great responsibility and I applaud you for it. Your life will indeed take a significant turn, for what I believe can be the most rewarding path one can take. I spent 8 years after I retired working in a residential setting as a Juvenile Sex Offender Counselor, working with boys’ ages 8 to 18, for the state of Ky.
Very little can compare to the feeling of knowing you have made a difference for a child that will lead to him having a better chance in becoming a productive member of society. Seeing “the light turn on” in a child’s eyes upon understanding of a taught concept, is an amazing feeling.
Good luck and know that all the sacrifices you make will be worth it in the long run.
MikeMar 10, 2010 at 8:12 am #1584546
@thomdarrahLocale: Southern Oregon
TDMar 10, 2010 at 8:28 am #1584553
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
Good on you! I counsel young adults and teens, many of who are struggling with traumatic events. The deaths of parents is not an uncommon story. My advice is to foster emotional intelligence. Role model and teach connecting with your emotions and talking about how you feel. It makes a huge difference in young people's lives.Mar 10, 2010 at 9:01 am #1584574
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
I tip my hat to you! Raising a kid is just about the biggest responsibility — and much love, compassion, and guts are required to take this on.
I think the transition is going to be different for every kid (and the adults involved). But I think to the extent practicable — honesty and openness with the boy will go a long way.
Wonder what (if anything) mom will share with her child regarding this? Also (not an expert here but just thinking out loud) — what about legality? I assume this will be a legal adoption (to minimize future complications with the child's biological father)?Mar 10, 2010 at 9:22 am #1584585
@marcpenLocale: Western NC
I don't have a lot of experience in child rearing to pretend to give you advice in that area. I would only advise to be yourself – because you are obviously a caring, strong, and emotionally driven individual which are obviously the characteristics required. You certainly show these traits in your post above.
We all wish you and everyone involved the best in the future!
MarcMar 10, 2010 at 9:46 am #1584596
@cooldripLocale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
I'm not a parent myself. I am an adoptee, so this subject is about as personal as it gets for me. I applaud your courage and compassion in this undertaking. Never let Dalton forget his history and his mother's legacy. Roots ground us, and give us a base from which to grow.
Bless you Juston, and all other adoptive/foster parents.Mar 10, 2010 at 10:00 am #1584602
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
The Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a states:
"…and whosoever preserves a single soul…, scripture ascribes [merit] to him as though he had preserved a complete world."Mar 10, 2010 at 10:37 am #1584617
drowning in spamMember
I can't really think of the right words, but let me give it a shot by saying: Well done and good luck.Mar 10, 2010 at 10:46 am #1584619
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
Be sure to line up help, as much and as soon as you can.
If I had known how great it is to have a kid, I would have
done it earlier.Mar 10, 2010 at 11:55 am #1584640
@jdeyoung81Locale: New England
She would not have chosen you if she did not think it would be the best spot for Dalton. While you may have to give up a few things what you will gain from sharing your life with a child will be so much greater.
As a father of 3 (2 of which are step children that live with me full time) there is nothing better then seeing them happy.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason… so there is a reason that all this is happening to you.Mar 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm #1584651
I don't know either of you personally, but I would venture to say that even at this difficult point in her life, finding a suitable guardian for her boy brings her a peace of mind few of us could imagine. Good luck to you all, and God bless.Mar 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm #1584676
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Big change! Big responsibility. Serious commitment by you – best wishes.
You know, at 6 years old, he should be able to go on walking trips with you. Just maybe that would be an excellent thing to be doing to give him the support he will need? You could tell his mother about this too.
And you can buy him gear … :-)
Cheers and best wishes
Roger CaffinMar 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm #1584689
@thomdarrahLocale: Southern Oregon
"My life is about to change", and for the better.
I'm having Ron make me a custom MLD sleep system, SL bivy and Spirit quilt, sized for my child. I would be happy to have him make a set for you at the same time. This will help to get both you and Dalton off to a good start.
With the two kids being close in age we will need to arrange a future adventure.
ThomMar 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm #1584692
@angelazLocale: New England
6 is such a fun, quirky, challenging, amazing age. You're taking on a daunting task… but the love that will come into your life will blow you away. What an honor.
If I lived near you I would offer some babysitting free of charge! I used to nanny. :) 4-6 was my absolute favorite age group.
There was a really good article on a child whose father faced terminal illness in the NY times. It might comfort you a bit in terms of that anxiety about not knowing how Dalton will adjust. He is at a very resilient, intelligent, empathetic age. I'll see if I can dig up the link tomorrow morning.Mar 10, 2010 at 2:06 pm #1584695
I'd like to thank you for posting this. Why? Because it underlines an important part of BPL, for me, anyways.
It highlights that we are a community that is caring and trusting enough not only to help each other with our gear addictions, but for actual real issues that matter most. You (and as a few others have done) writing a post of such personal magnitude demonstrates a sense of humility and community just as much does a rally to help someone in need.
You said that you needed to get that off your chest. Expressing yourself here speaks volumes about what BPL has become–for you as well as the community.
While I will always look to BPL for advice on backpacking, it seems to me that I am learning about many other things as well–things that I never really thought I'd learn from a backpacking forum.Mar 10, 2010 at 2:06 pm #1584696
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Bless your heart, Justun, for truly walking the walk. I have one good friend and an acquaintance who have accepted a like responsibility. In both cases it was, and is, an enormous challenge, but with commensurate rewards. Neither of them would change a thing if they had it to do over again. I hope you keep us up to date as things progress. Lots of support here if you need it.
TomMar 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm #1584697
@jcarrLocale: Humboldt County
22 years ago my wife and I got a phone call from an old friend asking us to take care of her 6month old daughter so she could get straight. She never did and I am so gratefull as Lacey has been the best thing in our lives. She just graduated from college and is looking to make her mark in the world. I also took 2 single moms and their 3 boys, two 8 year olds and one 7 on their first (for the boys) backpacking trip to Tangle Blue Lake in the Trinity Alps and they loved it!! So go for it and if you are ever in N CA. I'd be glad to take you both out on a hike.Mar 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm #1584699
Juston – you will not regret being a father and mentor. That child will have a tough battle ahead with the loss of his mother and your support will undeniably help him get through this.
God bless you, the child, and his mother.Mar 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm #1584700
@junctionLocale: Atlanta, GA
Thanks to everyone for the support and kind words. I'll update this from time to time. I'm not the kind of person who scares easily, but I won't lie… This has me scared a bit. I feel good about things though. I know it will be ok.
When the time is right, plan on it. I look forward to
it.Mar 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm #1584709
Cool! I love being an uncle. ;-)
Much luck. Much success. And many, many happy adventures!Mar 10, 2010 at 2:33 pm #1584712
@philipdLocale: Ontario, Canada
Best of luck Juston. Big change for you and a huge scary change for Dalton. Wishing only the best for you, your friend and Dalton.
If I can give any advice…it's be patient with the little fella. He will be adjusting and adapting through all this also and it will be hard on him…at that age kids do not always know how to appropriately express their feelings.
I myself adopted two children when they were around that age. It's been great to watch them florish and grow into the young teens that they are today.
It's a huge change, a huge commitment, a huge amount of work…but extremely rewarding and I know in my case it has been simply amazing and I wouldn't want it any other way.Mar 13, 2010 at 7:33 pm #1586167
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
6 is an age where a child is very flexible – but also old enough to understand death and finality.
My son at that age lost 3 close family members in a 3 month period. We never hid death from him, which as an adult your first instinct is to do that – to only want to protect them from pain.
If I can give any advice is that therapy will be needed, someone he can talk to. He needs to understand that he did nothing to cause the loss of his mother. Small children can take too much pain and grief upon themselves but with time will flourish well.
Children are a blessing and can enrich your life beyond measure.Mar 14, 2010 at 12:12 am #1586224
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
Juston good for you. Just remember if it ever gets difficult its probably not your fault or the boy's. Kids aren't supposed to lose their parents and when they do it will be hard on them, there is no perfect way to fix a tradegy. Personally I can't think of anything more worthwhile than helping someone in need.
Edit – I just remembered I know some folks down in GA that work with kids (some of them adoptees) who are struggling so cope with the hard knocks of life. If you want them as a resource PM me.Mar 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm #1586343
Thank you for sharing and I hope that you keep sharing your burden and your joy with others.
Can I suggest you organise a video message from the mother to her son ?
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