“Our time together not only made me a better man and father, but highlighted a shared value system that would overshadow any of our differences” – John Waldron, A Father’s Angels
Every once in a while I come across a real page-turner. A Father’s Angels, by John Waldron is the true story of a man struggling to meet the demands of being a new parent. The odds are against him. Social prejudice, the immigration controversy, and the state adoption system threaten to drown his enthusiasm. He needs help.
Enter the angels, four Hispanic women who, one by one, come to work as nannies. They face their own uncertain futures despite outstanding loyalty. First is talented and devoted Paulina, an aspiring artist. She’s undaunted by the behavioral challenges of Waldron’s son, Miguel, one of millions of angry and abandoned kids who end up in the foster care system. Dealing with meltdowns doesn’t deter her…
I won’t be a spoiler. You can read the book and find out what happens.
My conversation with the author is below:
SR: When did you decide to write your story? Did you keep a journal?
JW: Pretty much from the first couple weeks after I adopted my oldest son from the State of Arizona, I began to keep a “loose” journal of thoughts and more importantly stories. I knew I was on a unique journey after I began interviewing the many potential caregivers that would become such a big part of our lives. The stories of these women who had migrated to the U.S. from Mexico had amazing stories to share and I began to make notes of their experiences throughout the process. My journal was a way to footnote touching or difficult times in the day or acts of kindness that were demonstrated by my babysitters. Candidly, I was usually exhausted by the end of most nights and I was lucky if I scratched out a couple sentences before falling asleep. However, as a way of processing all that was happening, I did begin to write…one story at a time. When it came time to share certain stories that described specific locations, I would go back and revisit these spots which would trigger all kinds of memories of raising my two boys. After several years, I realized that I had the makings of a book. With the help and insights of two different editors, I was able to tell an honest story that allowed readers a glimpse into our lives.
SR: How did you deal with the heartbreak of learning that your adopted child had behavior problems for which you were not prepared?
JW: As I describe in the book, I knew my older son had issues and that his birth family as well had a history of challenges. However, I think it’s impossible for a new parent to ever imagine the challenges that come during the initial transition period and the extended challenges that follow from a child who misses out on love in the earliest months of their lives. One of my messages in the book is that gay parents have a much harder journey within the State of Arizona adoption system and if they are looking to adopt healthy children without a lengthy history, they have an uphill battle. It is sad to see so many children locally in need of adoption and yet so many feel they must go oversees or seek a private adoption within the states. Ultimately, this was my situation the second time around. I adopted my younger son from Guatemala as a result of the difficulties and biases experienced in the Arizona state adoption system.
SR: What are you working on now?
JW: I am in a part-time doctoral program in Leadership so I am doing a lot of academic writing but I have two other book concepts that I am writing for enjoyment One is a parable book in keeping with Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager. This time around, I am having fun creating fictional characters and it has been a creative outlet. As for my second group of stories, these remain focused on my family and the lighter side of raising kids in Arizona as a gay dad. Rest assured, there are many funny stories to share.
Thank you, John! You have an admirable story that captured my heart. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading more of your work.
“The truth was now before me.” -John Waldron, A Father’s Angels
Lake photo and collage art credit: Susan E. Rowland