May I call you dad, Mr. Peter? Single dad adopts 11-year-old from foster care “ Anthony entered foster care at 2 and was adopted at 4. He was the younger of two Oklahoma-adopted boys. Anthony was hospitalized to a local hospital six years after his adoption for unknown reasons.
He never saw his parents again when they returned home. They never picked up the son who called them “mom” and “dad” for so long. The promises of a forever family were broken, leaving this young kid alone, abandoned, afraid, and emotionally destroyed.
He didn’t know when or if they would return because he wasn’t in on their plan to abandon their child. This wasn’t their first time abusing a youngster, but most people couldn’t imagine it. Sadly, they did the same to their other adoptive son two years before.
I expected to care for children of unfit parents when I started foster care. I never expected to raise the child of two parents who had passed the onerous background check requirements for foster parents, only to abandon not one but two of their children.
The sorrow Anthony and his brother must have felt after being betrayed again by those who are supposed to love and support us is tremendous.
I fostered two 4- and 10-year-old brothers before Anthony came into my life. They revolutionized my life and my knowledge of human love. They had my heart.
I assisted the boys and their parents for 7 months until the Family Court ordered reunification. After an hour in court, this was decided.
I had many hours of foster parent training, but none of it prepared me how to say goodbye to these boys who had so much of my heart. Emotions arose on the one-hour drive home. I cried much of the way since I would never see boys I had known for months. Yet thinking about how great it was that they could return home with their parents made me happy for the whole family.
Four days later, my social worker called to ask if I could take in an 11-year-old boy for the weekend. I told her I was heartbroken at the loss of the two boys who had just been reunited with their birth parents and had no energy to care for another child.
I indicated I needed more time to grieve, and she persuaded me to take the child for the weekend. She always convinced me it was the right child at the right time, and she was right, especially in this case.
I didn’t want to get involved or inquire why he was in foster care because I was still grieving. I decided that if the placement lasted longer than two nights, I would refuse to let him stay out of concern that I would become attached again and grieve again.
I had fostered three children for seven months without a break. I needed 1–2 months to recharge.
He and the social worker came at my home at 3 a.m. after driving two hours from another county in the state. Oklahoma has a severe foster care shortage, so social workers must place children outside of their county of birth, often taking them from their only home. The social worker had no choice because older children are harder to put.
I resisted asking why he was in foster care. I refused to bond with any more children until I was ready. I let him call me “Mr. Peter.” 20 minutes after arriving, he asked to call me “Dad.”
What? Despite not knowing his last name, he wanted to call me “Dad.” Most foster children first want to remind you that you are not their father and “never will be.” This child I had just met didn’t even argue that. I immediately said, “No!” I informed him he was only staying with me for two days and not to call me “Dad.”
Monday dawned. I lied to the social worker and told her I was leaving for Texas at 11:00 a.m., so she arrived at 10:00 a.m. I finally asked why he was in foster care knowing he was leaving. The social worker said his biological mother abandoned him at two.
He lived with church elders. The family that reared him abandoned him in the hospital approximately ten years later. They signed away their parental rights and never looked back. I’m stunned! What I heard was unbelievable. I cried out of rage at what they did to this 11-year-old.
I had no idea it existed. It was afterwards labeled a “failed adoption.” After almost a decade, the parents returned their adopted child to the state. My heart was shattered. How could anyone, let alone a child, be abandoned? How could they leave after all these years without wanting to see or hear him?
I said, “Where will they take him?” while wailing hopelessly. He would leave my home and go to a group home because there were no family members or foster families available. I would never allow that.
I refused to abandon him again. He already called me “Dad.” I requested a placement letter from the social worker to enroll him in school the next day. We cried joyously after she asked me 100 times whether I was serious. I told her that his food, housing, and love would always be provided. As long as he called me “Dad,” I was fine.
I formally gave my son my last name on November 12. This is my greatest blessing. Amazing journey.
Anthony has supported me through eleven foster children in three years. In 19 months, he has read over 500 books and gained many wonderful friends at church, school, and in foster care. Despite his hardships, he is very positive and resilient.
Though difficult, this journey has been a blessing. I now love him and see his best. He taught me to dream larger, care more, laugh more, and be bold. He taught me to never say no, follow my ambitions, and that the finest things always come from the most unexpected places. So that night when I was wallowing in my sadness for the boys I had lost, the social worker dragged me screaming to the most amazing young man I am glad to name my son. I needed my son more than he needed me.
This one act of compassion has brought us family and friends we never thought imaginable. After fostering four children, I was ready to quit, but making a split-second decision to foster a child no one wanted opened my heart to caring for five more. As my son and I prepare our house for additional potential placements, we are excited to see what we think is possible through faith and love.”