Editor’s Note: November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and for the past 14 years, the Saturday before Thanksgiving (this year on November 23) has been celebrated in communities across the country as National Adoption Day.
According to organizers, “National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families. This annual, one-day event has made the dreams of thousands of children come true by working with policymakers, practitioners and advocates to finalize adoptions and create and celebrate adoptive families.”
Just days away from Thanksgiving, a day when when family means everything, Hampton Roads Social is pleased to share the adoption story of local musician and aspiring young philanthropist, James Harman.
James Harman was born in 1988, but his life did not begin until 1998, when a childless couple, far removed from the violent and abusive world that James had known since birth, opened their hearts and their home to him and his two brothers.
James Harman says adoption saved his life.
(Photos by KenneWalker, Photographer)
Life is the evidence of God on earth. As it begins an embryo is formed as a new beginning and a train of thought is clumped into a mass we call a body. From the beginning of this cycle the substance that will soon be called a human child evolves and establishes a will to function. This now existing spirit sprouts fingers, toes, and all limbs and organs it will need to survive a lifetime. A child is born and is now searching for nurturing and tender loving care.
The reality we come across in modern times, is that this small package may sometimes be unwanted, an accident, or practically a burden.
The children thrown to the wayside very rarely get to choose their fate, and wind up as orphans, in foster-care, or mixed up in a life of turmoil for lack of identity.
I will be speaking on my own experiences as a child, where I not only felt unwanted, but, to my dismay, was given away. Against the odds I was blessed. I was one of the fortunate ones who got adopted. I will be speaking on what adoption means to me, and the importance of a child growing up in a positive home.
“Knowing from my background that I could become susceptible to trouble, my adoptive parents opened my world to music. It became my coping mechanism.”
I was born in the late 80’s during a time of mental unrest and a rapid spree of sexual reproduction. Coming into the world in the inner city of Racine, Wisconsin, I found myself growing up among gang violence and wars against neighbors. There was no form of respect but street justice. Many people were thrown into the battle of within, including my biological parents, who lived a life of partying, heavy drug usage, and total disregard for the beings they had brought into existence. I was the product of a broken home, and as one who had no choice, I watched, helpless, as their bad decisions became my unhappy reality.
Like many children who grow up in abused homes, I was not completely unhappy with my life. I have several memories of my childhood where I enjoyed time with my mother and father. I was born into poverty, so it would be wrong to blame all of my life situations on my parents.
I knew we weren’t the only under privileged family. There were other families in our community who fared worse. I watched, first hand, as children around me played out the hands they were dealt. Some had abusive parents like my own.
I remember times I would go to school bruised up. I would sit by myself at recess and just look at the sky or stare off into space.
I always knew who the children were who were neglected or mistreated at home. I recall one little girl proudly showing me a scar her step father cursed her flawless flesh with. She was explaining how it happened, but when she got to the part where he touched her, she stopped talking. I didn’t need to hear the rest. I knew she was touched in a different way than I was.
I withdrew into myself, but some of the children being hurt at home acted out in rebellious anger, hitting other children, or cursing at the teachers. The abuse began to become a daily routine, that’s when a teacher who viewed me as one of her smarter students pulled me to the side. My scars and bruises were no longer hidden, but began to appear on the surface of my skin. I could no longer lie about what was going on at home.
I was informed by my social worker that I would not be able to stay with my biological parents any longer.
In fact, while I was still in foster-care with my now adoptive parents, I was informed that if they didn’t adopt me, I would be in foster-care until I turned 18. I was crushed. I had spent most of my young childhood being shuffled from foster-home to foster-home, at times feeling like I was no more than a meal ticket for the foster family. Statistics were not in my favor.
But a blessing beyond my wildest dreams prepared me for my future. My foster parents ensured that I would have a permanent home. I was adopted.
Adoption helped me beat the odds against me, and gave me an option to be successful not only as an adult, but as a child as well. I excelled in my studies at school. I became a young virtuoso on classical viola and piano.
“Once the viola was placed on my shoulder, for the first time in my life I felt that I could become something.”
I am a walking testimony of how a random couple in my community picked my picture out of a binder, and decided to raise me as their son.
Adoption gave me and my brothers a forever family. For that, I am forever thankful.
Click HERE for Adoption resources in Virginia