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Second Chances Ignored

Joined: 7/13/2015
Posts: 5
My son Ben got the first of his many Second Chances when we adopted him. His birth parents were high school kids, not at all prepared to assume responsibility for a baby. They placed him for adoption and we stepped forward, promising to give him a stable home, a good education, and all the love he deserved.
He was a challenging child, programmed, it seemed, to test limits. He was suspended for fighting and stealing in 4th, 7th, and 8th grades, but not expelled because the principals thought he deserved to show he had learned his lesson.
He was expelled from the private high school in the 9th grade, but helped to settle in at the local public school by a concerned guidance counselor.
The dozen or so physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists we saw during his early teen years hoped to steer him away from his inclination to break the law. They gave us reduced rates, extra sessions, and opportunities to show he regretted stealing his father’s car and destroying school property.
The staff at the rehab home worked hard to give him strategies to stay away from drugs, and family members encouraged him to “straighten himself out” by being part of family events.
Our younger son forgave the times Ben stole from him and the neighbors told us Ben needed help, not punishment, when we broke into their homes looking for money to buy drugs.
His pregnant girlfriend gave him numerous ways to show he wanted to be a dad to their son.
His many, many employers seemed willing to accept his excuses for being late or missing work altogether.
Even the Army didn’t punish him as they could have when he went AWOL. They gave him a General Discharge with GI Benefits, telling him to use the funds to be the man they had seen in combat in Afghanistan.
Through all of this, we stood ready to help, with second (and third and fourth) chances, but my son missed them all. As I write this, he is in prison, serving a 10-year sentence for assault and battery and robbery. He doesn’t get a second chance to use the phone; if the line is too long, he must wait until next week. There are no second opportunities to argue with his lawyer or suggest that the guard is a jerk. He doesn’t get another shot at a good education or make-up time to re-visit the special events from the life of his now 8-year-old son.
And, sadly, I don’t get a second chance to parent my son through the difficulties of growing up. There is no re-run of my decisions about how to guide him. There is only my (probably) last chance to insist that he use this time to ponder all the second chances he ignored and to encourage him to use this very big chunk of time away from temptation to decide that maybe he is worth taking a serious chance on himself.
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