In my case, the abandonment I felt after my wife left me for a younger, less cynical man, was a warranted consequence of the half-hearted effort I put in to our union. I never gave to the same extent that I took. Our love was a flower, and I left it in a damp, dark, windowsill with the blinds drawn.
I accept my failures as a husband and acknowledge my shortcomings as a lover. I allowed the winds of change to knock me off kilter, and watched as my beautiful wife, Susan, marched steadfast into a well-deserved prosperity, leaving me shivering in the cold chamber of my indifference.
It’s easy to romanticize the prospect of a life untethered. Enjoy life to your own heart’s content, with nothing to tend to except your own dreams and desires. But what I failed to realize at the time, is that the enjoyment of my dreams and desires is wholly contingent upon those with whom I can share their manifestations.
Following our divorce, after months of TV-dinners, Lawrence Welk reruns, and long looks into the mirror, I found my heart bleeding out in search of human connection. Something true. Something pure. Something that can’t leave the ground without a helping hand to lift it into reality.
So I made haste into the pursuit of a shared, benevolent union. Because my failure as a romantic partner still loomed heavy on my heart, I pivoted to a different avenue; an avenue I was certain would provide genuine incentive to become the man I should have always yearned to be. Fatherhood.
• • •
After my injury in the war left me impotent, my wife Susan accepted a life in which we would bear no children. How cruel, how agonizingly heart-wrenching it all seems in hindsight, but I strung along a loving and dutiful partner that could never see the fruits of our biological purpose in life. I had accepted I would never be a father the minute I woke in that hospital bed, and Susan, bless her ungrudging heart, did her best to accept the same. But I knew this ate away at her. I tried not to acknowledge it, but it pierced like a dagger with every walk through the park, every school bus passing our empty picket-fenced yard, every judging glance or snide remark from peers who had all fulfilled their role of procreation.
Now, I found myself with the opportunity to right the ship I let veer me into the desolate path of solitude. I googled AskJeeves.com, then searched for information on the processes of child adoption.
Inspired by the articles and videos I saw of white, suburban families adopting impoverished children from small African villages, saving them from a life of little hope and even less opportunity, I knew that was what I must do. Provide a new life. The thought of saving an innocent child from the jaws of oppression, an oppression they didn’t choose or deserve, supplied my heart with a tingle of passionate bliss I hadn’t felt since the day me and Susan said our “I do’s.”
After months of bureaucratic red tape, undoubtedly designed to deter a less determined man, I began to make headway in my pursuit. Not without a few hiccups along the way, however. Why couldn’t they, The United Coalition of African Adoption, see that I was serious about this? It wasn’t a “rash decision,” it wasn’t an “impulsive lifestyle change for the sake of lifestyle change” as they seemed hellbent on proving. This was my destiny. This was my purpose.
Finally, the Coalition relented, convinced by a fervor and bravado I hadn’t channeled since those raucous nights in overseas taverns during the war, that I was indeed ready to rear a child. A boy was selected and set to become my son. The months of fighting for what I believed in, the struggles to prove my worth as a man and a prospective father, were all about to culminate in something bigger than myself. It was all about to be worth it.
It felt, in a sense, that life was about to begin.
• • •
On that fateful day, I arrived at the airport ready for a new lease on a life I once believed to be shattered beyond repair. I’ll never forget the rapture of bliss that overcame me as I hoisted my son up into my arms for the first time, nothing but unconditional love reflecting back at me from his beautiful brown eyes.
We walked hand in hand through the exit doors of Austin International Airport, the low-hanging central Texas sun looming in the distance. A world of possibility and promise lay on the horizon, as if begging to be reached out for; aching to be seized. We stopped under the terminal canvas, sweat from the humid air already wicking in the underarms of my SuitMart “January Clearance Sale” blazer. I looked down upon him, and he looked back up at me, inquisitive but reserved, as if I held the key to doors he never dared dream existed. It was in that very moment, that I knew.
I had made a horrible mistake.
• • •
The problem with adopting a child from Africa is that there simply isn’t much in terms of shared interests. There’s nothing worse than an awkward car ride, and that drive from the airport felt as arduous as an expedition to the peak of Everest. What is there to talk about? What does an American man in his sixties have in common with a foreign boy of seven? As if the lack of commonality didn’t make conversation daunting enough, he didn’t even speak the language. I could immediately see that this was going to be tougher than I anticipated.
I realized I had idealized this version of a classic American father-son dynamic that would be impossible to actualize within the parameters imposed by African adoption. Those evenings I played out in my head, of the sunset games of catch in the meadow? That scenario is hard to unfold when the boy has never seen a baseball before. What about the standing ovation when he hits his first homerun, or the warmth in my heart as I watch him round the bases and touch home? What about the trip for ice cream after his first little league playoff victory, or the passing down of my high-school glove when he comes of age?
As we pulled into the driveway, I finally recognized that every event I had been looking forward to seeing play out with my child involved little league baseball. What I had really been yearning to do all along was simply coach little league.
The weight of my mistake was punishing, and I knew the ongoing consequences would be an even heavier burden.
• • •
So here we are, fresh off the holidays. We’ve been living together for a few months, and I think it’s evident by the general mood captured in our Christmas card that our relationship isn’t as strong as I had originally hoped. (This was the best take of the entire shoot.)
He still doesn’t really speak English. We communicate on a very basic level, and our back and forth is typically ripe with attitude.
He isn’t a fan of my cooking, so I’ve resorted to just stocking the fridge with Lunchables and letting him have at them when he’s hungry.
I’ve tried to get him interested in baseball so we can forge some common ground, but he leaves the room whenever the Rangers games are on and goes to do… whatever it is he does in his room.
He isn’t performing well in school, primarily because of the language barrier and the fact that, living in Texas, English-as-Second-Language courses are typically targeted at Hispanics. Nobody on staff speaks Kinyarwanda, nor do any of the students, so he has yet to really find a groove socially or academically.
I have to pay for English lessons, a speech coach, court mandated “cultural immersion” courses, and to top it off I have to shuttle him back and forth to these throughout the week.
(And I don’t want to nitpick, but he sings a lot of tribal folk songs from his homeland and it honestly gets on my nerves. Just being open and honest, here.)
It’s just a lot of work. I’ll raise my hand on this one: this situation is my fault, and of my own doing. I’m not one to place blame on others when it should solely rest on my shoulders.
I thought this would be an enriching experience for both of us. I thought providing a better life for a child would empower me, and give him an honest shot at a prosperous life. But quite honestly, he seems ungrateful for the gesture, and I’m resentful of him, and myself, for the failure of this experiment to materialize into something that isn’t a complete waste of time.
If this were an American child, I could probably just abandon him or leave him at the firehouse and he’d be able to fend for himself. Hell, they put Moses in a basket and sent him down a river, and he turned out alright.
But because he’s a fish out of water in a strange land, he wouldn’t stand a chance, and I can’t be held liable for that. There’s a serious paper trail. There’s documented statements from my interviews stating how important it was for me to bring him here, and how committed I’d be to this journey. I can’t back out.
…But I really want to.
I’m in no condition to be a father to this boy. It’s pretty evident that he doesn’t want me to be his father. The simplest move here, and honestly the only move I’ve decided is within reason after countless hours of brainstorming, is to put him BACK up for adoption.
The hard part is over: I got him here. He’s already in the country. Logistically, it should be a breeze to hand him over to the next parent. I have to wait out a probationary period, probably designed to prevent the exact thing I’m trying to do, before I can start the process. But I’d like to use this platform to showcase why you, or someone you know, should consider adopting him.
ADOPT MY SON
Name: Angus T. Bones
Height: 4’6″ (At his age, this is an encouraging sign. There’s no reason to believe he won’t reach above 6’0″, and with his natural build, I think a college athletic scholarship is a safe bet.)
Hobbies and skills: Singing, Dancing, Running (he’s quite fast. He’s escaped my home multiple times, and every time the police return him to me, they tell me he’s tough to corral.)
Language: Kinyarwanda, limited English (with adequate involvement from a parent who truly devotes him/herself to teaching him, I’m sure he could pick it up with ease.)
Price: Adopting, as I found out, is not a cheap undertaking. All things considered, you should expect to pay anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000. Because I covered most of the high-end travel costs to get him to America, and paid the attorney fees for most of the tricky international paperwork, it’s possible you could own this human for $10,000 to $15,000. For someone who actually wants to raise a child, that is quite the deal.
• • •
I implore any and all who may be interested: Help this boy, because I don’t see any scenario in which I turn this around. Be the strong, encouraging, and supportive parental figure that I no longer have any interest in being.
• • •
Disclaimer: It has been brought to my attention that the section in which I showcase my son’s “stats” evokes problematic sentiments of slave-trade. This is far from my intention, and I sincerely apologize to any who feel this article is insensitive in any form.