Last Saturday our church held its very first Foster Parent Day Out. We provided a place for foster parents to drop off their kids long enough to get some time to themselves to accomplish whatever they needed. We hosted about fifty kids from 11:00AM till 4:00PM. There were activities for every age. Kids from all over the Jackson County area came and spent the day playing foosball, air hockey, pool and the Wii. There were movies, a gym, crafts and fresh popcorn from a local theater.
I spent the last couple hours of the day at the rock wall in the Kids Zone. The Kids Zone is where we have our weekly children’s service. There is a ping pong table, two foosball tables, two air hockey tables, and in the back of the room, a rock wall that is at least fifteen feet wide and just as tall. When the rock wall is open, there is generally a pretty long line of kids dressed in safety gear ready to go. Last Saturday was no exception, especially since most of these kids have never had the chance to climb a rock wall before.
The oldest kids in our area were about ten, which is a perfect age for the rock wall. To a ten-year-old that wall is four times their height. It must appear massive in size, and it must seem like a real challenge. I spent the last two hours of the day hoisting a group of about four girls up and down that rock wall. My youngest daughter, Anjelia, was in the group as well. Being ten herself, she hit it off with them instantly.
With about an hour left in the day one of the girls looked at Anjelia, motioned towards me and said, “Is he your dad?” Anjelia answered in the affirmative. Without any hesitation the little girl looked at me and said, “My dad died.” She said it so quickly and so matter-of-factly that I was stunned. All I could think to say was, “Oh, I’m sorry.” She shrugged her shoulders and began climbing the wall. With tears welling up in my eyes I pulled on the rope as quickly and smoothly as I could. She flew to the top of the rock wall, giggling the entire way. I held her steady at the top of the wall. She spun herself around and looked out across the room and gave me a smile. I was ready to adopt her on the spot. I wanted to snatch her up in my arms and promise to be her dad forever. I would have signed the paperwork that very second. I know I can’t replace her birth father, but I was ready to give her 100% of my effort till the day I die.
For the last couple of years I have played around with the idea of adopting a son. Not right away, but eventually for sure. The idea of raising a son sounds fun. A different set of challenges and a different set of rewards. Completely new territory. After Saturday I just don’t feel the same way. I realized that after over fifteen years of being a dad to daughters, I have a hard time visualizing myself doing anything else.
I’m used to it all the Barbie dolls and teddy bears. The tiaras and princess dresses. The various sizes of of ladies undergarments slung all over the bathroom floors. The long-hair-filled brushes and clogged drains. The trash cans overflowing with feminine hygiene products. The long waits on Sunday mornings while five women jockey for mirror and bathroom time. The posters and magazine photos of boy bands taped up on all the room walls. The seemingly never ending text messages from gentlemen callers, and the frequent slumber parties complete with boisterous giggling.
At one time I was hopeful that raising a son was in my future. Last Saturday reminded me that I was meant to do something else. I was meant to raise women.