An open letter to Colt and Harley.
I wrote my first story for the Dispatch paper in June of 1996 and most have been about hunting or fishing here in Alaska or in various spots in the lower 48. I have a never-ending list of hunting and fishing stories mainly because I have spent a lot of time enjoying the great outdoors but also because I have a good memory. This story is not really about hunting or fishing because some things in life are more important than hunting or fishing. It is about something I have stressed to my children for many years: making wise decisions. Each day of our life regardless of our age we are faced with making decisions that are important to us as well as to our families. It is and always will be important to each of us throughout our lives to make wise choices that are beneficial to us and those around us. Last January I was at home recovering from knee surgery when I received a phone call from the Alaska Office of Children Services. I was told the story of two young boys, ages 8 and 12, who needed a home because a very important member of their lives made some poor decisions and was now in jail. I was also told how difficult it could be to place two children in the same home and in all likely hood these boys were probably going to end up being split up. I asked the Social Worker and licensing agent where the boys were at the present time and I was told, “Down the road in another vehicle waiting for you to say yes.” I told them I was not a foster parent and they quickly responded with, "We will give you an emergency license!" I already had three of my five children and a foreign exchange student from Greenland living here with us so I also had to make a wise decision in dealing with this situation. I quickly thought about the adjustment we would all have to make to bring in two more children plus the shuffling of kids to make everything work in our home. I did not have much time to mull this situation over or to do much talking about it with other members of my family as the need was NOW and the decision had to be made. So I said, “Bring the boys over here as my dad always used to say, “When you get extra people at meal time you just add a couple more cans of water to the soup.” We would make the adjustments to make it work some how.
I got some special help from Duffy Phillips and Wayne and Mary Mize in adding the sixth bedroom to our home plus rounding up more beds. Wayne brought a friend whom quickly and professionally wired our new bedroom and we were able to get everything done quickly. I always have a house full of people of all ages so two more kids on a regular basis would not really make that much difference. I ran into a few problems last summer as often times I had way more kids wanting to go fishing then I had room for. If I could not find another driver so we could take two vehicles and two boats if needed I often did not go. I did not have the heart to tell any kid they could not go fishing or to pick and choose whom went and who had to stay home. On those days I simply did not go fishing at all and I hope that was a wise decision in keeping harmony in my home and not showing favoritism. I can't imagine growing up and not having a dad to take me hunting or fishing or simply being there for us on those days we all need a dad. To my knowledge these two boys have never had a dad in their lives and often times the situations these two have faced in their young lives forced them into making decisions on their own. They told the Child Placement people this last summer that no matter where they end up or even if they end up adopted, they always want to be able to come back to our home because they had already gone fishing with me more than with anyone else. Yes sometimes kids don't like getting homework done or doing their chores but for the most part things have gone pretty well. Now due to some more poor decisions by a parent I may soon need to make another decision and hopefully I'm making the wise decision in the best interest of these two boys. Children are only allowed to remain in the foster home program for a limited time here in Alaska than they are put up for adoption. I have decided that when the time comes and if I have those very important papers in front of me and there is a place on the bottom to sign as the person adopting these two boys I will put my signature there! If there is another spot to sign for "Dad" I will also sign that too. You will always have a home with us if you choose. Yes you still have to do your homework and chores and even eat Swiss chard, but you will always have a home. See you next week!
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