On an Adopted Son

Adopted children are special. I know this first hand. My sister’s son is adopted, and my own son is, too. Unlike children related by blood, adopted children are selected to a degree; their choosing by the adoptive parents, at least to me, means that they are special and beloved even before the adoption paperwork is completed. That is a bond that transcends blood relation. And, sometimes, love and marriage bring a son or daughter into a parent-child relationship that can often be a wonderful thing for both.

Take the case of Leslie Lynch King, Jr. He was born in 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mom, Dorothy, had married Leslie King, Sr., the son of one of Omaha’s richest families. But the marriage wasn’t a happy one. The husband was a spoiled rich kid. He often beat Dorothy. He even threatened to kill her and her unborn child. Once her son was born, Dorothy secretly left Omaha and the senior Leslie and moved first to her sister’s house in Illinois and then into the house of her parents in Michigan. The wealthy grandfather of Leslie junior eventually provided child support, so Dorothy didn’t have to worry about money while raising her boy.

However, by the time the son was three, Dorothy had met a wonderful guy in Michigan, a man named Rudy. Rudy was not wealthy, although he made a living as a worker in his family’s paint store. Unlike her first husband, Rudy wasn’t a spoiled man who didn’t consider other people when he made decisions. He was kind and hard working and appreciated the love that Dorothy had for her son. And Dorothy knew that Rudy would make the perfect adopted dad for her young Leslie.

And that is exactly what he proved to be. Rudy took Leslie under his wing. He taught the boy the meaning of hard work, of patience, of being appreciative of others and aware of their needs and of his own shortcomings. He taught his adopted son sports–something that Leslie soon found he liked and excelled at– and encouraged him to join the local Boy Scout troop. Leslie loved scouting, and, as he grew, he climbed the scouting ladder until he reached Eagle Scout–the highest ranking a scout can obtain.

Dorothy and Rudy had three other sons, but the bond between Rudy and Leslie was unmistakable. One day, Leslie asked Rudy why he had a different last name than his step-father. Leslie tugged at his chin. “Well, would you like to have my last name, son?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” the young man said. So, with Dorothy’s smiling approval, Leslie Lynch King, Jr., took on the name of the man who was not his biological father but rather of the man who was his dad, the man who raised him, and the man who made him who he became.

That’s why you knew him as President Gerald R. Ford.


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