Do you have one of those uncles? The kind that thinks he is living this wonderful life and is so blessed by God. Well, maybe he is, but not by my God. My God teaches tolerance of other people, not conversion to a single-minded narrow perception of the world (kind of sounds like the Republican Party, but that’s a different subject).
So, Uncle John has given up on me. See, his religious beliefs allow him to do that, give up on family that doesn’t conform to his ideals. Imagine that! What has triggered this blog entry is he sent out an email called “The Johnson Family Update”. My mother had to forward it to me, because years ago I asked Uncle John to quit spamming me (and he did).
Let me preface this with a little family history of my own. First off, Uncle John is only 10 years older than me. He was raised by my grandmother and his sister Joan with his cousin Ford who is 2 years younger. How he became this person he is today is beyond me. He married in his 20’s to my aunt Janet who worked in the office at the summer camp he ran. They adopted 3 girls. This was a noble thing to do since they came from an emotionally disturbed background of abuse and neglect.
John and Janice raised these girls (with my grandmother in the beginning) with a stern hand. He was very strict. Pretty much the opposite of how he was raised. But the point is he failed one of them. The oldest, my cousin, Lee Ann, he has disowned. The other two have fallen in his good graces and married good Christian men.
Lee Ann, needed the most help. She was abused the most as the eldest child. She blocked out part of her memory, and to this day refuses to deal with her past. For uncle John she became the wild child. She wore makeup and hiked her skirt up, she smoked, and ran around with boys, and yes the unthinkable she became pregnant out-of-wedlock. Imagine that! I don’t really know Lee Ann that well but I love her still. Uncle John has written her off. She has three children now. The first one lives with his father, the second one my Uncle John and Aunt Janice adopted as their own and the third one she kept.
Let me just say that the second one, my nephew called the “spawn of satin”. You see John and Janice home schooled her. By the time she was seven she was sitting me down on the couch and wanting to talk to me about Jesus and how he could save me. Please!! At the same time she was mean. Hitting other children. Throwing things at adults and otherwise an obnoxious child. Unfortunately, her rebellion didn’t succeed. My Uncle was not to fail twice (depending on how you look at it).
Oh, did I tell you he founded his own church, and is a bible literalist. And yet he doesn’t truly know what the gospel was about in my estimation, forgiveness.
So here is the letter. It’s a little long so don’t read all of it if you don’t have the stomach for such things. I have written my own version which follows this one.
Subject: New Developments with the Johnson Clan
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a summary update of some of the exciting things that have been happening in the Johnson family. First off, you may know that Jane and Matthew have been serving as foster parents for a total of 18 different children over the past two years. Most recently, in April, they were given charge of a premature baby boy who they picked up at the Conemaugh Valley Regional ICU in Johnstown Pennsylvania after spending nearly a month there as a preemie. His name is Cole and he is doing quite well. At this point, after weighing a little over 4 pounds when he was picked up in April, he now is about 11 pounds as this is being written.
On 3 July, Jane and Matt received a call from Children and Youth Services asking them to take two brothers , one a 17-month-old and the other a four-year-old. The foster home in which they had been originally placed were unable to control them and they need to be placed in another foster home. After prayerful consideration Jane and Matthew agreed to take them on in addition to Cole.
On 7 July Jane and Matt received another call from Children and Youth Services asking them to take on a newborn infant who was addicted to cocaine and heroine from his mother and his mother abandoned him at the Indiana hospital after giving birth and repeatedly said she wanted nothing to do with the child. That baby spent a week at the ICU in Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital in Johnstown where he went through a drug detoxification program. Being a full-term baby, he was of average weight but was dealing with this drug situation. One week later, they brought him into their home with the only stipulation that they need to keep giving him small doses of Phenobarbital twice a day to help take the edge off of his withdrawal symptoms. When he finishes this one complete prescription, the prognosis is that he should be withdrawn from the drugs. At the end of week two, he is doing very well and seems to be taking nourishment and the symptoms of the drug addiction are almost completely eradicated. Praise God a court hearing was held early this week at which time due to the fact that the mother did not show up, he was given a name by the court so that he could be issued a birth certificate and acquire a system security card. The name given to him by the court was John David. Which, quite by coincidence, as you know, John is my first name and Matthew’s father’s first name is David. In addition, Janice’s brother, who lives in England has the name John David. We believe it was not a coincidence but a divine ordination.
In the case of this most recent infant, he probably will be eligible for adoption and as a result of a recent court hearing, the judge has ruled that Children and Youth Services needs to try to get the adoption completed within six months. Jane and Matt are both very excited about this . The only challenge to the court is they need to do” due diligence” to try to find the father to make sure that there are no claims to this child. Every name that the mother has given as a potential father has proven to be a false lead. Therefore, an advertisement will need to be run in the local newspaper for a period of time, to determine if there is any man out there who wants to take a DNA test and make claim to this baby. If not, adoption procedures will move forward rather quickly.
As for baby Cole, his mother has not made any effort to see him or contact Children and Youth Services about him since he was taken from her in the hospital because of her inability to be able to stay awake and take care of him even with rather forceful attempts to awaken her. A biological father has been determined in his case, but he is currently unemployed and has three other children to 3 other, different women. He has been seeing baby Cole for one hour a week for the past month. He has expressed mild interest with reservations of trying to take care of him. It may be that he too will be eligible for adoption by Jane and Matthew.
Daughter Tonya and her husband Brian have also been taking care of foster teenagers who have been sexually abused by their parents. Currently they have in their charge a 17-year-old girl who was abused by her step father, a 16-year-old girl who was sexually abused by her stepfather and was aided by her biological mother in perpetrating the offense. Her 14-year-old brother was also placed with Tonya and Brian and he was sexually abused by a stepbrother. In all of these cases it has been determined that these children/teenagers will not be returned to their parents and that they will remain in the system until they graduate from high school or reach 21 if they so desire to stay within the system.
Due to the number of interacting support services for each of these children in both homes, Janice and I have been helping on almost a daily basis to take care of one or more of the children from the two homes while the foster parents take care of the needs of those who have appointments or other pressing needs, on a priority basis. It has been very rewarding, but it has also caused us to rework our schedules and priorities to be able to assist with these kids who need to have support.
Most recently, the 14-year-old boy who has been staying with Brian and Tonya, whose name is Tyler, was determined by children youth services to be best placed in another foster home as there were apparent conflicts with him in the home with the other girls and with Brian working all day. There is no male figure present during the day. He has been staying with us off and on, even for several days at a time and has been absolutely no problem for us. We have found him to be a very polite young man, who is very eager to help in any way that he can, but clearly he is a boy and has different needs and interests from the girls. He is a hard worker, takes direction well, and needs to be actively involved doing something constructive on a regular basis. He and Tiffany have “hit it off” very well and they enjoy playing games with each other, shooting hoops, looking for crayfish in the creek, watching movies, reading books together and it has been good for both of them.
The upshot is, Children and Youth Services asked Janice and me to consider applying for becoming approved as foster parents with the idea that we would be given this young man on a full-time basis as soon as the approval has been given. That request was made of us 2 weeks ago, and we thought about it and concluded it was the best thing for the young man and we willingly began the process of going through the hoops to become approved. As of today, we have received our State Police Criminal Record Check Clearance and have submitted Our Child Abuse Clearance to the Department of Public Welfare of Pennsylvania , FBI fingerprint clearance to check for out-of-state infractions. We also have had physical examinations, our well water supply tested, TB tests, and a walk-through visit by the representatives from Children and Youth Services. We met with the young boy’s assigned attorney who has agreed with the Indiana County Judge, to allow us to homeschool this young man in a similar fashion as we already homeschool Tiffany. He was also granted permission to be able to travel out-of-state with us on a case-by-case approval basis as long as we keep Children and Youth Services informed. In all probability, the certification to be foster parents will be complete by the end of this month and he will officially be assigned to us at about the same time frame. Tonya and Brian are both okay with this, in as much as he still will have contact with his biological sister through our extended family and they respectfully realized that it just was not working out for him to be with them.
We fully recognize that educationally he is behind by several years but believe with proper encouragement, to which he seems to respond greatly, we may be able to accelerate his learning and help them make up for the lost time that he has previously experienced during his previous education.
As you can see, a lot has happened in a very short period of time and it has changed our lifestyle somewhat. However, the reality, so far is, it has not made much of a difference as it has not been a burden for us to have him and as a matter-of-fact, this young man has been very helpful to us in a variety of different ways by helping us keep up with things around the house and keeping both of us young as Tiffany already does. Instead, he has been a real joy. Another good point is, he has readily and enthusiastically expressed his desire to be placed with us to those who are in authority. Without a doubt, we believe that this whole situation has been ordained by God and that God has moved in a supernatural way to bring things together to make this happen in a very short period of time, to the amazement of everyone.
John, Janice, Tiffany and Tyler
Okay so on the surface this sounds wonderful. They are taking care of children and all that nice stuff. But really, they are ruining children’s lives. These are the foster parents from hell. The ones kids want to get away from. Is it just me or doesn’t 18 children in 2 years sound like a bad situation? Don’t get me wrong. I am with you. I want these children to be taken care of and my uncle has the money to do that for sure. I am just worried about their emotional well being.
So anyway, here is my comedic (asshole) rebuttal:
New developments in the Johnson/Dunn Clan:
Rick and I have been together now for 13 years. To celebrate my 52nd birthday we are going to New Orleans over Labor Day weekend. As some of you know we met on Cinco de Mayo, 1999 and have been together ever since. We became domestic partners in San Francisco at the Gay Pride festival on June 24th, 2000. We became domestic partners here in Nevada at the Carson City Capital building in the office of the Secretary of State, on October 1, 2009 the day it became legal.
We live in Reno since Rick retired in 2007 with our cat Billy. Rick’s son, Brandon, who lived with us for a short period of time with his two girls, married (Lannette) on June 10th of 2010 and lives with his new wife and their combined 4 children in Modesto. His girls, Emilee 15, and Abbie, 11, just spent a week with us here in Reno, swimming, shopping, baking and having a good time with their two grandfathers. Lannette’s two children, Taylor, 16, and Trevor, 12 spent the week with their father. Having all four of them in our little 2 bedroom condo is not practical, although we have done it for special holidays like Christmas, with sleeping bags and their parents there to help control the mayhem.
We are the modern family, gay parents and grandparents, partially retired and living the good life in Reno, Nevada
Of course I could never send this but I feel better having shared it with yall. “Divine ordination” indeed!!
P.S. If you some how read this Uncle John, I forgive you, but in the words of Pink Floyd, “Teacher! Leave those kids alone!”