Monday, May 10, 2010

Defining Courage

Something close to 15 years ago, I sat and watched a movie called Angus.  It was a nice commentary on the whole High School experience, but one quote struck me hard, and has been with me ever since:
Grandpa: Superman isn't brave.
Angus: Did you take your pills this morning?
Grandpa: HeHe. You don't understand. He's smart, handsome, even decent. But he's not brave. No, listen to me. Superman is indestructible, and you can't be brave if you're indestructible. It's people like you and your mother. People who are different, and can be crushed and know it. Yet they keep on going out there every time.
This was the first time I had heard this concept.  I now quote that at my Scout group every year.  I explain to them that Courage and Bravery mean doing what you think is right, even when there's a very real possibility it's going to hurt.  If you can't get hurt, you can't be brave.  Your acts, as Grandpa says, may be good and decent ... but not courageous.

Well, last week it hurt.

Johne came to me asking for help with a potentially abusive situation.  He asked me, point blank, to foster him.  My immediate reaction was to say no.  Instead, as I said in my previous blog entry, I reached out to his dad.  Over the course of the next week+, he made a sizeable impression on my family, and when the very real possibility of him needing a foster placement came up, we as a family decided that yes, we would handle that responsibility.

Then, DHS got involved.  His mother, in defense of her position in all of this, accused me of grooming (don't click on the link unless you want to say ... eeeww!) her son.  She accused me of brainwashing him into saying the things he had shared with me to DHS, as if I had put those ideas into his head.  She called the police on me, and reported me to DHS.

Great way to return a favor, yes?

So, I've now been interviewed by the police in the matter.  I've had DHS sit down and talk to my foster son (who, fortunately, more or less laughed in their face).  For a short time, I was in danger of losing it all ... my foster son, my kids, my freedom.

All because a kid reached out to me for help and I reached back.

Intellectually, I know what I did was right.  I stand by every decision I made.  I knew the potential consequences, and did what I knew to be right anyway.  I know that I'd do it all again if I need to.  I know that all that means I should be feeling courageous.

But right now, I'm not feeling courageous.  It's taken every ounce of self control I have to even blog about this.  To those of you that know me on Facebook have watched this all unfold and have stood by me ... I appreciate it!  My courage and my self control are hanging on by a thread, still, but that thread may have snapped if not for the occasional "give me a break" or "WTF" popping up in my comments.

I know that I'll survive.  I'll pull it back together.  Hopefully when Johne reaches again (I'm confident he will), I'll be strong enough to reach back, even knowing what to expect.

For those of you just catching up with the story ... Thanks for reading.  I'm not going to shy away from this, not going to let it interfere with who I am and the good works my family does.

Sometimes courage hurts!

        aka: goofdad

PS: I'm trying to participate in momalom's "Five for Ten" ... it sounds like a good idea.  Wish me luck!  Click the badge on the right (or here) for details.


terry said...

Boy, it's not easy what you do! But bravery is doing what's right. Like my Grandfather did in WWII.

Sometimes you gotta fight and I know you got that in you.

Keep writing. It will keep you sane.

michelle said...

wow. what a story. and I love love the Angus quote. So true. It isn't brave if you can't get hurt. The true courage comes out when we can. And it sounds like you are living that.

Corinne said...

I think I remember seeing Angus... but it's fuzzy...
It takes such courage to do what you did, putting it all out there for what you know is right. I can't give you enough props for that.
Your family is very, very lucky to have you.

S. K. said...

Your Mama raised a great son. You're a good man.

goofdad said...

Thanks, all, for your kind comments. I've sent an apology to his parents, apologizing for causing strife in their family and reaching out to them to try and make peace.

It was humbling, but necessary. Again, I'm opening myself up. I'm scared, but it seems the only thing I can do at this point.

AmandaRaeShelton said...

Wow! It takes tremendous amount of courage to even write about this. And even more courage to reach out to him again when he comes back around. How scary. But you are right that if it wasn't scary it wouldn't take courage. I hope you have strong support. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah said...

I really hang on to the "reaching out, reaching back" in your post. A lot of the time, that is what gives us courage, isn't it? When we feel needed, when we know we can help if we just push ourselves a little bit.

The scary thing for me here is when you put not only yourself, but your family at risk for doing something you really do believe it. It just doesn't seem fair. I don't know there have been a great many decisions I've shied away from because of the negative impact it might have on my husband or kids, but I know that I don't write certain things for that very reason. Somehow, because writing inherently feels like a brave thing to me, I can identify with your post in this way.

Thank you so much for participating. Here's to some Happiness posts tomorrow!


Shmonae said...

There are things as foster parents that others, just.don't.get. It is hard to be the kind of person that is in this situation over an over again. I think you and I "get" each other. It's never easy, but always worth it. Thanks for being another *slightly* crazy person that cares for others deeply.

postmommy said...

I think being a foster parent is even more brave than just being a parent to your own children. I've considered it before, but I just don't know if I have the guts to deal with the issues that foster children will potentially have--I applaud you for doing it, it really is a great thing. The world needs more people like you.

I don't understand how cruel people can be sometimes...without being 100% sure I don't know that I could ever accuse someone of harming my child in that way, considering the dire consequences it brings. Even the mention of it is toxic, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused. I'm sorry you and your family have to deal with it, especially when you're obviously helping your community in such a big, important, COURAGEOUS way.

Emily said...

I find it interesting that you reached out to the family to apologize because that is probably where I would have found myself if I were you. Not because you did ANYTHING wrong but because there is such power in forgiveness -- and your apology was a way of forgiving Johne's family for what they put you through. I do hope they embrace forgiveness -- sounds like they have a great deal of forgiving to do -- starting with themselves.

Anonymous said...

Teenagers are so complex. Good for you for being such a strong place for them to land. A tough and courageous job.
And hey, it was great to come across a Dad in Five for Ten!

kate said...

thank you so much for suggesting i take a look at your courage post. i am so glad to have read this and hear a sliver of your experience. hang tight to what you feel. the strength will come.