This morning brought the airing of the story of Gregory K. Many of you will remember him as the first child to actually go to court to “divorce” his parents.
The son of a self-absorbed mother and an alcoholic father, Gregory had been in and out of foster care. By the time he was 11-years-old, he had spent more time in foster care than he had with his own mother – having spent only seven months out of the previous eight years with his family.
After a lengthy legal battle young Gregory finally won his right to happiness, with his chosen, new family. Gregory K. legally changed his name to Shawn Russ and was adopted by George and Lizabeth Russ in 1992 at the age of 12.
Shawn’s story was one that had captured the attention of the media in a big way. I can still recall the headlines as this shocking Florida story was reported nationwide.
As I watched today my heart when out to this child, forced to turn his back on his mother, who he felt in his heart, he could no longer trust as he made a life-changing decision to put his own happiness first – something he knew in Rachel Kingsley (his mother) could never bring herself to do.
I simply couldn’t put Shawn out of my mind today; so I decided to try and track him down to find out if he felt he had made a wise decision 15-years-ago. While I wasn’t able to reach him, I did speak to his adoptive father, George Russ.
According to Mr. Russ, Shawn is doing well; today he is in college he comes home regularly to spend time with his adoptive family. Shawn had a great deal of neglect and abuse to come to terms with after his adoption. I was pleased to learn that Shawn was able to eventually forgive his mother.
Sadly though, she died several years ago without having seen or gotten to know the young man that she brought into the world and Shawn will be forced to live with things that were left unsaid.
When a family enters into an adoption arrangement one never knows where the road will lead. If the parents are compassionate and understanding towards the child’s feelings and needs, the outcome can be beneficial for all. In the case of Gregory K., it appears the child was wise beyond his years and was able to see his mother’s heart clearly and knew that he had found the love and acceptance he desperately needed in the Russ family.
Sadly, many children aren’t as lucky as Shawn Russ, in finding a good home with a good family. Often adoptive parents simply aren’t prepared to raise another’s child and in all too many cases in recent years, children have been unwillingly separated from their own parents, forced into an adoptive situation that will do them more harm than good, in the long-term.