September 16, 2008

Generations of Hope

There's a beautiful, touching story in the New York Times today about a community called "Generations of Hope." The story in short is that Generations of Hope, a nonprofit adoption agency, has created a small community of adoptive parents and children along with surrogate grandparents. There is a permanent community of adoptive families, and there are older people who live there and agree to volunteer with the community.

For the most part, it works. Before she came here 14 years ago, Ms. Bohm, a retired schoolteacher and widow who never had children, said she was “bored and lonely and feeling like maybe I should just hang it up.”

She saw a pamphlet about Generations of Hope in a shopping mall. She now believes her years here have been the happiest, and most important, of her life. “I feel like a cowgirl on wheels around these kids,” she said.

Part of the beauty of the program is that these kids need grandparents, and these grandparents need grandkids. The philosophy to make families permanent is also a good one:

At the heart of the program is the ethos that parenthood and grandparenthood are permanent.

“I know of two ways to raise children: you have them biologically or you adopt them,” said Dr. Eheart, a former researcher at the University of Illinois. “Foster care is an oxymoron.”

There of course is the racial aspect--most of the grandkids are black, and most of the grandparents are white. It's always a difficult pairing because there are issues that an older generation of white folk will not understand when it comes to young minorities. But there's a strong need for mentorship with both age groups, so I think Generations of Hope is doing a great thing.

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