LISTEN LIVE July 9th....As I talk about my "Midlife Life Adoption" with Nicole English on She Said Radio, 1100 AM in Atlanta, GA, at 1:30 p.m. EST. You can also tune in at 1100entertainmentradio.com.
I made one of bravest moves of my adult life. I actually asked to be adopted. I will give you a moment to let that settle in. Are you ready to continue? Okay. Yes, you read correctly. I asked one of my closest and dearest childhood friends to ask her entire family to adopt me and my babies. Here’s my reality, I have three wonderful kids who lost both maternal and paternal grandfathers within a 3-year time span. As a divorced mother with an ex-husband out of state there are no paternal influences in my children’s lives on a regular basis. Yes, I have asked for help in this regard but sadly the support was offered only with certain “conditions” being attached to said involvement. I will give you a moment to let that settle in as well. It is a painful reality of our new society. More of our households are being led by women and often with no regular paternal influence. Many of our families are being ripped apart by divorce leaving both women and men parenting singly every other weekend with court decreed flight plans and broken wings. Every one of us at some point has claimed to espouse the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” However,“the village” must have packed up and moved to the suburbs or become yet another casualty of gentrified neighborhoods. The Village as we once knew it simply isn’t there.
Growing up in southwest Atlanta was one of the best experiences of my life. I am not sure if people from other cities had a similar experience but those who grew up here understand what I mean. Our community was insulated. Our teachers, bankers, doctors, lawyers, principals, real estate brokers, mechanics, hairdressers, nurses, preachers and even the mayor all lived within a 2-3 mile radius. We had one of the first indoor malls in the entire country, Greenbriar Mall, at our disposal as we were not welcomed inside Lenox Square or Phipps Plaza malls. African-American men owned and operated successful businesses in this community and the “cliques” that existed were devised to support the cooperative economics of our people. No matter your socio-economic status families in our community had similar value systems including going to church, respecting your elders, and if you didn’t go to college you had to learn a trade. Our forefathers fought to give us the opportunities they were denied including a quality education and a better way of life. More importantly, our fathers were fathers to every child in the community, not just their own.
The late television anchor Ron Sailor openly admitted that my father spanked him as a little boy when he discovered him stealing from one of his vending machines at an apartment complex he managed. Daddy, my Daddy, became his father figure shortly thereafter and Ron rode everywhere with him. The late Bill Lucas, the first African-American manager of the Atlanta Braves, would walk over at random, pick me up as a little girl, and drive me on his lawn mower all over the yard much to my mother’s panic. Mom says he would say, “Awwwww she’s alright. She’s with me!” My late high school principal who lived up the street, Dr. Thomas Adger, kept his eye on me especially in my AP classes and pulled me aside if ever I slipped. He expected excellence out of me and insisted so compassionately. My childhood pediatrician, Dr. William H. Bland, held my first born as she screamed incessantly from colic and showed me how to gently squeeze her stomach to release her gas. Although he was retired, he accepted my midnight call as an anxious mother with a child in distress. Yes family, I was COVERED by an army of real men, real warriors who laid a foundation of fatherly love and support financially, spiritually, and morally for the next generation. As painful as it is to say, I have to ask, “Have we bastardized their legacy?” Has our greed to attain the accoutrements of the coveted American dream forced us to “pimp” their sacrifice and ourselves to the highest bidder? I guess you might have to ask Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sons that question…but I digress.
Regrettably, there are only a limited number of warriors who remain alive. For months I have petitioned to God to reveal to me the right people to cover me during this season as a fatherless daughter and a husbandless wife. Last Tuesday, on my actual birthday, I was asked a rare question from my childhood friend, “Desiree' how can I help you?” Last night the answer to her question finally came and I said, “I need a sister and I need to ask your Daddy if he can be my father. I need you to be my family.” What I have come to know is that we no longer live in a society with people who actually anticipate our needs and automatically respond. Sometimes you have ask for what you need. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Now, after you ask and knock you do know that you actually have to answer the door, right?!?!?!
On July 4th my adoption was finalized. Wallace Bibbs, a retired Atlanta Public School principal, agreed to be my new father. Hisyoungest daughter, Gail Holmes, who has been my childhood friend since kindergarten agreed to share him. She also accepted the offer to be my new sister with much excitement and great love. I look forward to introducing my children to their new grandfather, new grandmother, and two new aunties who have known my entire family for years, very soon. #ask #seek #find