One of the best sounds in my world is to have the quiet of an evening at home interrupted by the laughter of teenage boys. They could be up to something, but it is more likely that they are just enjoying each other’s company, after nearly ten years of separation. Both, of my now young men, were born into foster care. As younger children, they were moved often, but the state kept them together until they were about 8 and 9. After a period of disruptive behavior by one of them, the decision was reluctantly made to split them up.
The two of them could not be more different. One is massive, artistic and introverted while the other is wiry, athletic and outgoing, but they are bonded by the crucible of a so-called childhood that many of us cannot imagine. Yet to meet them and know of their back story is to inspire awe in realizing how wonderful, sweet and funny that they are. They are just normal kids who had the extreme misfortune of being born into dire circumstances not of their own making. They struggled and survived until their luck changed because of an organization called the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange. MARE is a small non-profit that finds permanent homes for children waiting for adoption in the Massachusetts foster care system.
Through MARE, I met and eventually adopted the younger brother. Shortly after, the older brother, who lived in foster care in another city, began to spend most weekends and much of the summers with us. I offered to adopt him as well, but he never gave me a direct answer. He has a self-styled independent streak and wanted to finish high school in the same city. The formal legal recognition became less important while reuniting the two of them as family became the goal. After graduation, the older sibling aged out of foster care and moved in with us fulltime. They both are in college, work part-time and complain about the other’s chores contributions around the house! Their favorite week of the year is to work together as counselors at a summer camp that reunites kids separated by foster care.
I am not a religious man, but I commonly refer to both of them as true blessings in my life, and I mean it.
That opportunity would not have come my way without MARE, which is dedicated to working with literally the most vulnerable children in the Commonwealth.
On Sunday, May 21, I will walk in MARE’s annual walk for adoption. If you have the capacity, please consider supporting the good work of this great organization.
Tony LaCasse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-877-6871