My name is Jason VanDusen, the honored husband of Bonnie VanDusen, founder and operator of Geronimo-Project.
I am participating on the front lines this month along side my wife Bonnie and shedding light from another angle on foster care and adoption. This is the dad's angle, the Father's plan and a family's purpose for something greater than we can see.
To sum up my past growing up, I came from a relatively normal childhood, two parents and a sibling in a suburb house, in a suburban neighborhood, in a small town. My brother and I were pretty much spoiled and life was great. Until the day my parents got divorced and it seemed my life was anything but normal. Fast forward through years of hiding pain, and just dealing and bottling up fears, I slowly spiraled. Drugs and numbing rewards were life. Anything to be able to escape the trauma inside. I know it seems pretty medial in comparison to some stories you hear, but it was MY trauma.
You see, ever since I can remember, I have always said "when I have a family, I'm never going to break up the family." This motto my trauma generated was the glorious God already working, even as a non-believer. This was a foundation to fight, work hard and do whatever it takes to make my family work, for my kids. Little did I know it was His plan of fighting, working hard and doing whatever I could for other families and other kids too.
I fell in love with a child that was not mine before falling in love with the mother of this child. That was my beginning in adoption. I adopted our now eighteen-year-old son Isiah when he was only a year and a half. Of course, Bonnie was a catch too 😊 but Isiah got the side of my heart that wanted to be a dad and blood didn't matter.
Today, three kids, including two adoption processes, nearly sixteen years married, and over twenty kids in our home over the years, I am a dad, a foster dad, a husband and a SON of God! I truly believe that we can do more for families and kids in our communities today even in the smallest of ways. Not all of us are called to be foster parents, but all of us are called to help families in need.
Why Be A Dad?
The question isn't just why be a dad, it's why be a dad to kids that aren't yours?
I have always loved children and the idea of being a father was amazing. Kids have always loved hanging out with a "boy at heart" grown man just because I could be a kid. I was always good at recognizing situations, understanding feelings, reacting in moments, and most importantly, being a goof ball, laughing and having fun.
Yes, to be a dad requires a lot more than just fun times and laughing all day long, it requires heart, focus, patience, strong will, patience, grace, forgiveness, patience and patience. 😊 It means picking the battles you want to fight, learning and adapting, and loving everyone as God's children.
Don't get me wrong, it is difficult to take a child that's not yours in and father them. To me it's more like a multi stage process. Stage one, befriend and build trust. Stage two, try and understand pasts and give grace. You never fully know the stories these families have. Stage three, just be you, and share, be relatable, develop "expectations". In my house, all kids get my talk, my two rules. Respect and Compassion. Now yes, all rules and guidelines fall under these, but I make it simple. Beyond that, over everything show God's love!
When these kids come into our life, whether short or long term, the idea is to give this child, or these children, a view of what unconditional love looks like, what God's love looks like. The bottom line is, they deserve better hands than the hands they've been dealt in this world. They deserve more!
Trust me, it can be difficult. The way I think, and how I react in situations is not perfect, it takes prayer, it takes guidance, grace and understanding. But to not try for these kids or to hear these kids' stories and do nothing, is much more difficult for me.
If we all can simply plant one seed, or heal one section of a heart, or lift one head in this world, these children, these families, can begin to heal. They can begin to truly live, and more so, love themselves and others. We can simply break a cycle, nudge a life in a better direction. If we look at it like that, it begins to seem a little easier.
I hope one day I can share a bit more of individual situations and stories of struggle and stories of amazing praise, but for now this is my glimpse. This, is this father's perspective!