A single mother living in a public housing project with her two birth children, Susie Green decided to open up her home, and her heart, to an energetic toddler who needed a family.
My vision of having more children did not die when I divorced. I, along with my two birth children, ages eleven and six, lived in a public housing project in Washington, DC.
The idea to adopt a child came to the forefront of my mind when I heard a civic announcement in church, which described the concept of “one church, one child.” If a member of each church were to adopt one child, the number of foster children would be significantly reduced.
I knew I had enough love to give, so without considering that I had no extra bedroom and that my income was barely enough to sustain us, I applied to adopt a toddler.
Two-year-old Henry had a sporadic rocking problem. During waking hours he rocked on his knees, and then at night he rocked in his bed so violently that I had to tie the post of his bed to my bed to keep him from rocking his crib across the room. The social worker had not mentioned this. Maybe she did not know, because Henry had lived in a homeless shelter and two foster homes. But now he was mine, and with him came his rocking.
To calm his rocking, I bought a rocking chair. I rocked him every day as I sang happy songs. The harder he rocked on my lap, the louder I sang. After months of rocking, one day the rocking chair collapsed and we both fell flat on the floor! Shocked at suddenly finding ourselves on the floor, I began to laugh—and then he laughed. We sat there laughing for a while. With him still in my arms, I stood up, assessed the damage, and together we carried the chair, piece by piece, out to the alley for the trash truck.
Years passed, yet Henry’s rocking did not stop. My patience was tried both at home and in public when he rocked, but my capacity to become more patient grew beyond belief. My concern for why he rocked and how I could soothe him grew despite his missing family history. The more he grew physically, the more I grew spiritually and emotionally. But I had three children—not just one—and there was no time to be obsessed about finding out his history, although something inside me always wonders what his birth parents were like.
This I believe: for many people it is not the unknown about an adoptive child that is most feared. Rather it is what we do not know about ourselves that stops us dead in our tracks when considering adoption. We do not fear whether the child will love us, but whether we have the capacity to understand and to love the child. The most profound lesson I learned was about me. I became determined to accept what I discovered, to understand what I learned, and to love all I knew.
Today Henry is a junior in college, a member of the U.S. Air Force National Guard, and a Department of Defense IT contractor working in northern Virginia. He is healthy and happy, and rocking only to his favorite music.
Susie M. (Harris) Green enjoyed a career as a Senior Computer Specialist with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Following her retirement, she studied psychology and African-American history at George Mason University and Oxford University, and earned a BA degree from Bluefield State College. Susie has three children, is fond of gardening and travel, and cherishes time with her grandchildren. She currently resides in southwest Virginia.
Produced by Dan Gediman for This I Believe, Inc.
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