Daniel is 54 years old. He is quiet. Reserved. Respectful. We got to know him as the grandfather to several of the children of Roots & Wings. He would often be the one to drop them off in the morning or pick them up in the afternoon.
In actuality, they are not Daniel’s grandchildren at all. They are his wife’s grandchildren. But you would never know it by the love and commitment he shows toward every one of them.
Daniel has not had an easy life. He spent the better part of his adult life behind bars from a life of crime and alcoholism. But he got out a changed man, committed to leaving that life behind – and he did.
When we began hosting a Bible study at Roots & Wings several years ago, he was the first to ask if he could attend. He subsequently gave his life to Jesus and was baptized.
Over time, we realized that one of his grandsons spent a significant amount of time in the care of his grandparents. Adrian, who was placed in the program by his mother, would more often than not be in Daniel and Bertha’s care.
Like a ping pong ball, Adrian would bounce back and forth. Mom and step-dad. Grandpa and grandma. We discovered that this had been the pattern for the majority of his life.
We noticed something else too. When Adrian was with his grandparents, he was noticeably more emotionally stable. When he returned to his mother’s home, or even sensed that he would be sent back, his would regress significantly.
We began to take note of Daniel’s dedication and commitment to Adrian and began discussing with both his mom and his grandparents the importance of giving Adrian a stable home.
Sadly, his mom was unwilling to fight for her son and readily agreed to let Adrian decide where he wanted to live.
On the other hand, his grandmother was hesitant to commit to raising another child at her age.
But Daniel never faltered. He said “yes” immediately. “He is staying with us.”
While many men might have run away from the responsibility of raising another man’s child, Daniel welcomed it. He promised to do whatever it took to give Adrian the family he needs.
Adrian was ecstatic. While the rejection of his mother hurt him deeply, it was exactly what he wanted. To know that living with his Grandpa Daniel would be his forever home.
We began to work with Daniel and Bertha to help empower them to become Adrian’s full-time guardians, and we were immediately impressed by Daniel’s persevering spirit.
Daniel accepted a job as a night guard at Roots & Wings. He takes extra shifts whenever possible and works days at the garbage dump to supplement his income.
He is excited at the possibility of Adrian receiving a scholarship to private school next school year. He has even offered to adopt him.
Adrian has blossomed this past year. He has grown in confidence, charisma and self-worth.
He has something that most of our children do not have. A healthy male role model. A father figure. A grandDAD.
When asked what being a father to Adrian is like, Daniel responded, “It is a blessing. It means guiding him in the best way possible. I love when we sit in the backyard and sing worship songs together. It often brings tears to my eyes.”