Confessions of a dad on Parents' Day
Often times I’ve heard you can’t control the day you were born or the day that you leave this life, but you can control the dash in between. How will others remember your dash? I know that’s a loaded question. Your dash could represent parenting, career choices, and daily relationships. Part of my dash today is parenting.
I come from a great family, both parents growing up and I have eight siblings – 6 sisters and 2 brothers! Yep!! My parents were super busy if you know what I mean. I remember being 10 years old and telling my parents I wanted to adopt kids so they could have a safe loving home to go to like I did.
I couldn’t do much at 10 years old, but when I turned 18 I became a CASA advocate for abused and neglected kids and a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters – anything to be involved with kids that needed love. I did four years of that and at the age 22 I decide that I want to attend a ministry leadership school in L.A. at the Dream Center, a 24/7 church in the heart of L.A. that rescues women from human trafficking, takes in homeless families, feeds homeless people, and so much more (check it out).
Many great things took place there, but the greatest for me was becoming a dad to Ashton. He and his family had been from shelter to shelter—in and out the system. One day, his mom decided she wanted him to have a better life. He went from potential home to potential home but each time, it wasn’t the best fit. Soon after, I got a phone call from a great friend that had worked closely with the family. She informed me that Ashton was up for adoption, and she asked if I wanted to adopt him, because if not, he would become lost in the system. I remembered back to my 10-year-old self who couldn’t do much, but now at 25 I could—so I said YES!! I knew it was something I wanted to do and if I didn’t say yes and make my dash count now, then what would change that 20-30 years from now? I had the opportunity to not just talk about it but to actually become a dad!
So here I was 25 years old, a single black male—having no idea about parenting but saying “YES” to becoming a dad to an abandoned 4-year-old boy. #Clueless! How can you love a kid you just met? How do you tell a kid you are his dad? How do you tell your family and friends you are adopting a kid being single? What will people think? He’s is a different color than you. So many different questions flooded my mind that I did not have all the answers to. But I knew God would be with us on this journey.
Our first week together was WILD. I took him to Disneyland on day three and he let every color of tantrum show that day. Everyone was watching. I felt helpless and I asked God “What have I gotten myself into?” I was embarrassed—but how could I fault him? I remember picking Ashton up and singing God’s words over him and praying. That got us through that day (praise Jesus). The first few months were challenging, but that was expected. I cleared my schedules to be with him so that we could get to know one another as father and son (we had many camping adventures).
I’ve learned that all kids need is unconditional love and CONSISTENCY. Parents, I know times get rough, but that’s when they need love the most. I read a book called The 5 Love Languages of Children, and it wrecked my life. When I learned my son’s love languages, it took our relationship and the meaning of parenting to another level. Ashton’s is touch and quality time—it matters so much for parents to know. It could help tear down walls and help you understand and know your kid more.
Today it’s been 3 years since our journey started together and we are living life. Mr. Ashton is now 7 going on 27–he’s the real boss! Ashton is super smart. He finished top of his 1st Grade class with all A’s, he loves reading, and loves the outdoors. I can’t imagine life without him—in the good and even in the bad moments. Many people ask me, “Donald, how do you do it?” I tell them I just “Wing It” and with a whole lot of JESUS. Parents, we don’t know it all. We will make mistakes, and our kids will make mistakes, but that isn’t the end of life. Be there for your kid—LOVE them, be CONSISTENT, LISTEN to them, spend TIME with them and make MISTAKES—you are your kids’ HEROES and they need you more than ever! NOW GO AND RAISE WORLD CHANGERS!
Also, if you are considering adoption—Go for it!! Get involved in the system, go to classes, read books. You may not have all the answers but your “YES” (dash) will make a difference in a life of a child just as mine did in my son’s life. Now we get to do life together making our dashes count, sharing our story, and encouraging others that they can do the same. #JustWingIt