She did not understand why I would support my nephew. She knew of some of his antics, some of challenges, and from her perspective it would be better for him and his child if he and the mother gave my future niece up for adoption.
Knowing that this person knows my story a bit, I took me a moment to gather myself and not laugh out loud or offer a punch to the throat.
Why am I supporting my nephew?
- He wants to parent and is doing all he can to support the mother (despite the fact they have broken up).
- He knows he has to clean up his act a bit and he is trying.
If that was not enough, I will offer that while he may or may not end up living at the end of the poverty spectrum he is currently at, kids understand poor. Kids do necessarily understand mothers or fathers that abandon them at birth for that mythical “better” life.
Yes, he is single. He may not be forever. Even if he is, single dads can be successful. Kids understand break ups, divorce, step parents. They do not always understand parents who give them away. They do not understand why they cannot have their medical history or their original birth certificate.
Yes, he currently works several jobs in retail. Five at last count. Judge if you will. It does not have to be permanent. He can go to school, get another job, get an entry level job at a corporation and work his way up, etc. His temporary situation should not leave him feeling pushed into a permanent solution. He can get a better job. He can never get his daughter back from the adoption machine.
Yes, he had some wild teenager partying years in high school. Who hasn’t? Should that fact exclude him from raising his child?
If these suggestions were not enough, I believe strongly, with support, he can do this. He wants to. He understands the importance. He needs only to have people believe in him and expect him to succeed. Tell him, expect him to fail, he will, if even only in the dark lonely corners of his own mind.
How do I know this? I know this because of young parents like Natasha, Lisette and Gloria. I know this because of the young parents and their organizations assisting them featured in the youtube video below. Thank you ICAH, Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice.
Finally I know this because no one offered me any of the support I am offering my nephew, as little as it may be. If someone, anyone, told me I could and should parent my daughter, I would have stopped and thought twice. If someone said they would help me find housing or a job, I would have caught my breath and said “really?”. If my parents said they wanted to know their first born grandchild and would help me, I would have never walked through the gates of adoption surrender hell.
It is said experience is a great teacher. My experience told me negative things about my ability and my child’s future with me. We can change this for my nephew and other young parents.