Saturday, January 26, 2013

Adoption and Super Bowl XLVII

Next Sunday, many of us will be glued to our television screens for one spectacular event.

Some will watch for the football. Others will remain captive for the hilarious commercials. Others still will hang out for the game just to witness Beyonce's half-time show. 
(Bet she won't lip sync this one...)

Anyway, whatever we consider the main event next Sunday, most of us will be watching.

As an adoptive mother and adoption advocate, I'm always looking out for adoption stories around me. Today, I thought I'd share stories I've discovered in next week's Super Bowl. Of course I must begin with my beloved Ravens...

Michael Oher

Michael Oher has a story that's been told before. If you've had the opportunity to watch Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, you've heard Michael's story already.

One of twelve children, Michael grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Due to his father's frequent incarcerations and his mother's addiction to crack cocaine, he spent much of his childhood in and out of foster homes. By the time he reached high school, he'd attended eleven -- yes eleven -- different schools. At times, he even found himself homeless, with nowhere to go. 

During one of his homeless stints, his path sovereignly crossed with Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy. And the rest is God-inspired history. The Tuohy's opened their home and hearts to Michael at age 16 and became his legal guardians just a year later.

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick's adoption story has made headlines recently -- but for all the wrong reasons. The media loves drama, so everyone's telling the story of Colin's unwillingness to meet with his biological mother.

I make no judgements here of Colin or his birthmother Heidi Russo. Hopefully, the time to meet will be crystal clear to both of them, and prayerfully, that day will come.

But I do love what Russo said about her decision to place Colin for adoption (via Fox31 Denver): "I knew I couldn't have provided my son the kind of life he deserved when I became pregnant. I had him for about six weeks before putting him up for adoption, and what a blessing it was to have Teresa and Rick Kaepernick be able to step up and raise Colin."


Patrick Willis

Patrick Willis has a tear-jerker story similar to Michael Oher's. Raised by Ernest Willis, a single father in rural Tennessee, Patrick has endured -- or should I say overcome -- extreme poverty and physical abuse by a drug-addicted, alcoholic father.

When authorities removed Patrick and his three siblings from their home, a twist of fate landed them in the home of Chris and Julie Finley. It just so happened that Child Protective Services called Patrick's football coach, Rod Sturdivant, to inform him of Patrick's impending move to a foster home in another county. Determined to keep Patrick on his football team, Sturdivant embarked on a mission to find a local foster home for Patrick and his siblings.

His search began and ended with the Finleys, who had only been married a year. Unable to handle all four children for long, they provided Patrick and his brother Orey with the love and security they desperately needed. Chris guided Patrick through his season of college recruitment and later assisted his search for an agent.

Today, Patrick calls both Ernest Willis and Chris Finley "Dad." 

And the rest is NFL history...

Enjoy history-in-the-making next week when the Baltimore Ravens beat -- I mean face -- the San Francisco 49'ers!


Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK National Holiday: The Beloved Community

As I watched the inauguration of the second term of President Barack H. Obama, I could almost hear the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. reverberating in the background.

And I think of the phrase that has been repeated more than once today -- "The Beloved Community."

"The Beloved Community" was a term first coined in early 20th Century by philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Dr. King, also a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, popularized this term and sparked its evolution.

For Dr. King "The Beloved Community" described a country -- a world even -- of justice and equality and hope. A community of faith and love, where people of different races, cultures and socio-economic groups can live together, work together and worship together.

In 1956, Dr. King spoke these words following the U.S. Supreme Court Decision to desegregate the buses of Montgomery, Alabama:
"The end [of segregation] is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men."
King's dream went beyond African Americans having the right to sit anywhere we want to sit on a city bus. His dream went beyond even the election of the first African American president. His dream was one of community, one of solidarity -- where people of different colors and races and cultures can live together in peace, hope and love. Where we see the difference in the color of our brother or sister's skin, but choose to treat him or her with respect and honor and love.

Yet many of us still live separately, work separately and worship separately.

As we embrace a new year and a new hope for our country's future, let's ask ourselves: What will I do to embrace The Beloved Community? How can I encourage my school, my workplace, my organization, my neighborhood to also embrace The Beloved Community?

If we all embrace The Beloved Community, perhaps we will witness "a love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men."