As an adoptions case manager, I hear a lot of people express concerns about age — their own and that of the child, especially when we’re talking about teenagers. They say, “We’re too old to adopt.” “We’re x years old. When he/she turns 18, we will be x + the number of years it will be until the child turns 18 years old,” which leads me to ask how old they will be in that number of years if they don’t adopt. I tell them that I’m currently working with a 62 year old couple adopting a five year old girl, and that the two easiest adoptions I worked this past year were teenage girls. Along with that, I often share this story from my family.
I never knew my great-great-great grandmother Libby Holman, who died almost a half-century before I was born, but I feel as though I knew her from the stories I’ve heard about her. Libby, who was born in 1810 and died in 1903, raised my maternal grandmother Katie Asalee Tant Bailey through her teenage years. It was an informal rather than a formal legal adoption. Back then, taking in a child was about as complicated as taking in a stray puppy or kitten. Even though it wasn’t a formal legal adoption, the important thing is that she gave my grandmother permanence and stability.
My grandmother was 10 in 1895 when her father died. Three years later, 1898, my great-grandmother remarried, and my grandmother Katie acquired a stepfather who was cruel and abusive toward her. At thirteen, Katie left home and moved in with her then 88 year old great-grandmother Libby Holman. The two of them lived together for the next five years, until Libby died at age 93 when my grandmother was 18.
No, I’m not recommending that people in their eighties adopt teenagers.
I’m just saying Libby Holman did, and generations have been blessed because of it.
Libby, who came to faith in Jesus Christ during a brush arbor meeting in 1854, had the privilege of leading her thirteen year old great-granddaughter — my grandmother — to faith in Christ. Thirty-five years later, 1933, Katie Asalee Tant Bailey led her then eleven year old daughter — my mother — to faith in Christ. It is scary to think what might have happened if Libby had decided that she was too old or that she just couldn’t deal with teenagers.
(Lamar was our daughter Lindsey’s caseworker, and I’m so happy he shared this story from his own family!)
Do you have a positive adoption story of your own to share? If so, contact me!