Adopting Love. Part One.

I wrote this story recently. I really hope you enjoy it, and really, that it challenges you to do something better with all that you’ve been given. Time and love are precious, y’all.

It was about a year ago that I went to see the children with facial anomalies in Texas.

I turned my Acura MDX off Highway 198 where it met 79 near Dallas, Texas, and rolled along for fifteen minutes. To my right and to my left, green fields filled my vision. When I could spare a second from my driving, I glanced to see the black Angus cows puttering through the grass and mud, munching and leaving behind patties of dung. There were, in some places, Brahman cows also, with their gray hide and bulbous bulges behind their necks. Here or there, I would spot a horse, a much taller and finer beast, perusing along with the cows, and in places close to a house, a smattering of poultry. I was lucky enough to see two ducks making a made dash for a pond and all this took me back in memory to my own flocks… so long ago.

A scape-goat tree grew in each section of each field, spared by the cultivators to provide the Angus and Brahman cows with shade during the summer, and, by the little ponds, there were sometimes willows blowing in the wind.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Between the muddy fields, tall measures of trees grew around creeks. Mainly hackberries, oaks, cedars, a couple pine trees, and, most salient, the sycamores with their slender white bodies.

Beneath the trees stands of dewberry vines clambered over each over to create a sizeable brush filled with spiny vines—and, during select times of the year, golden-centered white blooms and ripening berries.

Down long, rutted drives, houses grew like mushrooms. Houses in the muddy ground and surrounded with tall grasses that couldn’t be mowed too often. Garages hung open and most revealed or spewed some contents to the effect of transportation: bikes, cars, and other small-wheeled vehicles for children to ride about on.

With most of the houses, there was a molding basketball goal with a flaccid net and a creature hanging about, a dog or a cat, an agent of annoyance and antagonization for most homeowners.

I carried on down 49 until I came to a road called Dorsey, unto which I turned left.

As I drew nearer to my destination, I began to think less about the local topography and more about those who I would be visiting. Primarily, there was Sean Worth. He was my childhood buddy. We’d gone to church, camp, and high school together, played basketball for hours, and gone to the movies together. But then, we’d split ways. Him to medical school, and me to learn journalism. I’d only seen him once after his wedding, but we’d manage to email each other once or twice every decade or so since.

This was how I learned of his family. When I emailed him in 2019, he was still the old Sean I knew from high school. But when I got an email just when 2023 was coming to life with spring, it seemed like my old friend had either gone nuts or hit his midlife crisis.

He’d adopted eight children with facial anomalies.

Drawing near to their forties, He and his wife, Lydia, were facing the music. They weren’t going to have any children of their own. But I couldn’t believe that they could adopt eight kids in four years. And these kids too…

The family portrait Sean included mitigated my disbelief only slightly. Somewhere between disgusted and delighted, I studied the faces of each of his children. The youngest, a boy of Asian descent with two teeth sticking where his lip should have been, was probably about five. As for who was the oldest was nearly indeterminable because the heights varied—and some of the children were obviously unnaturally short—but I would guess that none of the children were over eighteen.

At least the kids were smiling, right? I mean, those who could were smiling. That girl with the massive cheeks that were flush with her lips may or may not have been smiling.

I was slightly disgusted, quite stunned, and more or less impressed. Sean had a lot of spunk. I’d known that ever since he’d driven his bike off the ledge in Faulkner Park. But really, I certainly thought that recklessness had rubbed off after his becoming a rather wealthy doctor with no children.

While Sean’s spunk was something I admired, as a journalist, his story was something I rather envied.

So, I quickly dashed an email off to him asking if he’d be interested in doing an interview. Maybe we could meet for at Starbucks. I told him that I’d be in Texas for another week and would like to meet him—if not for an interview, then to just shoot the breeze over coffee and a bear’s claw and catch up on life.

But he wouldn’t hear of it.

If it’s the story of the kids you want to write, then you’re not going to write it without meeting the kids. How about you come over on Friday at five?

                         So, here I was, bumping along some bumpy Texan road in my car.

                         “In 100 ft. your destination is on your right.” My GPS lied.

There was nothing but trees. Oh, wait. A mailbox. 2400 Cottonwood. I eased my car right and onto the driveway. My tires crunched the gravel as I pulled through the line of trees and got my first view of the Worth’s house.

The house was large. Beautiful, white, and sprawling over the top of a hill. Houses aren’t really my thing, so I can’t tell you what style it was. But it had a lot of windows. It was a large white house with white siding, green-blue shutters and red bricks along the base. Flowering azaleas and roses ran in a line around the front porch, which was spacious. Behind the house, there was what looked like a barn and just off the driveway was a well-kept garden. Several children emerged from the house, the porch and the woods nearby—one of the kids who was in the woods was all dressed up in camo duds and had a pair of binoculars under his arm. It was clear my approach was both well observed and well anticipated.

I drew along the driveway until I reached the end. A red Toyota SUV and a black van, a Nissan NV3500, were parked in front of the closed garage door—also a blue-green like the shutters.

Killing my car, I sat for a moment in the silence and then cracked my door open and stepped out.

Four kids were standing at the rear of my car, watching me with wary expressions. I’m not better than anybody else or anything, but I’m actually pretty good at being a person I’m not. It’s part of my job as a journalist. Ask questions. Be effusive, creative, and witty, but for the love of all things sacred, plan everything out beforehand. I’d already worked this out in my mind. But still, I admit it, I was feeling pretty icy nervous.

“HI, guys.” I grinned and waved. “I’m Noah. Sean and I used to be really good friends… way back in high school.”

It was like greeting Martians. Not because they looked like monsters, well, actually, they did, but mostly because nobody said a word. I guess they’re just not used to visitors—like Martians.


Come back for more soon!!

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