I am proud of the young man he is becoming, after all that he has overcome in his lifetime. He is a survivor, and what could have broken him actually made him stronger. He has every right to carry around bitterness, but instead he walks around with a happy heart and an inner joy that spreads to everyone around him. He lights up the room with his smile, and he sings and dances every little chance he gets.
I am saddened as this birthday reminds me how little time we were given to raise him, to influence him, and to model how to correctly respond to the challenges of an adult life. I am thankful he's not completely on level with his peers so we still have another year of high school after this one before we enter the college years.
I am grateful that God chose me to be the one he calls Mom from here on out into his adult life. I'm grateful for how well we've connected in such a short amount of time. I'm thankful God gave him back to us, no matter how "late" it had to be. I'm thankful for all the possibilities that his future may hold. I'm thankful he doesn't have to spend this birthday alone without any family, fearing the future rather than embracing all it may hold.
I remember the day his brother turned 18. Such a bittersweet day, one that held a promise for independence, yet one that held a nearing end to any source of security.
I wrote this poem after meeting Julian and seeing life from his perspective. I am grateful Juan David does not have to walk in the same shoes.
Eighteen years old,
Ready to spread their wings,
Ready to face the world
While in pursuit of their dreams.
“I’m ready for this challenge,
I’m prepared for the task ahead.
I’m ready to face the obstacles.
Free at last!” they said.
Yet eighteen years didn’t quite prepare them,
Eighteen years of training weren’t enough.
The world held more than they bargained for.
Life on their own was rough.
Grateful for parents who loved them,
Grateful they still had a place to call home,
They returned to a place of security,
Finding the street no place to roam.
Yet what if it wasn’t that easy,
And eighteen years were all you got?
Once you reach that magic age,
You survive alone on what you were taught.
No material possessions to take with you,
No family to call on for support,
No home to ever go back to,
No place to find security or resort.
What if you were the orphan
Left to figure out life on your own?
Please listen to their voices
So one less faces this picture alone…..