In foster care, navigating TPR and adoptions can be difficult. Permanency is a healthy step, whether it be reunification or adoption, but both still can bring strong emotions.
Our first time meeting our little guy, was for a weekend visit. Within the first 10 minutes of the car ride, he asked if he was good that weekend, would we adopt him. As a counselor, I knew this was a heavy question, so I carefully and quickly put an answer together and asked him if that is what he wanted. Without hesitating, he said yes. We told him that is what we wanted too. He and his sister both beaned, threw their hands in the air and said, “Yes!! Now we will have a mom and a dad!!”. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up.
Our little guy went on to explain that he wanted to play in the NBA when he grew up and that he wanted to change his name to LeBron James when adopted.
We knew the kids were being moved to our home as an adoptive placement as they had already been in care for several years, but still had to wait out 6 months before any formal court proceedings could begin.
During that time, we quickly discovered he loved anything to do with basketball, football, soccer and baseball. He was the happiest on the fields and courts. His schedule was quickly filled with practices and games, and his smile just got wider and wider. Next week he starts his first football camp.
The name change was brought up again. This time he noted that he found out that Michael Jordan was a better basketball player (sorry Lebron) and wanted to change his name to that. As I normally do with all our children that we have adopted; I run down the same scenario. I reminded him that this is his story too and that he can change his name to anything he wanted, but to pick a name that he is okay with all his friends, teachers, coaches and family will be calling him that. And the name Michael Jordan (MJ) was officially born.
To say I didn’t tear up again, would be another lie. My Dad’s name was Michael and with his passing in 2020, it meant the world to me that not only was I able to carry on my father’s memory and name in my future son, but, my son picked put the name without any influence from us. Although MJ never got to meet, my father, his grandfather, he has begun to ask many questions about him. And we recently visited his grave to introduce them to each other. What we tell our son is that he is just like his grandpa. Kind, compassionate, always smiling, gentle, friendly, and athletic. MJ, just like his grandpa, is strong, resilient and loves and believes in the family unit, wanting nothing more than to have and be part of a family.
We love you son. We know that someone from up above had a hand in bringing you to us and helped pick the most perfect name for you. We know that Grandpa is smiling and protecting you each and every day.
In MJ’s words this morning, “I can’t believe I’m adopted, yesterday was the best day ever!!”. Our story ended with permanency being adoption. MJ having a say in his story. And one little boy healing our hearts just as much if not more than we healed his.