Landing Pad

17 02 2013

When we signed up with the high school exchange program, CETUSA, expectations were not very clearly explained. Our task, as it were, was not only to feed this boy from Thailand, and give him shelter, but also to help find his next landing pad. We had volunteered to host him for a few weeks, two months max. After that, we were told, he would move to a permanent home with a host family. Mere days after his arrival, however, we could tell that we would be searching for a way to keep him instead. The only obstacle was our absence during the month of January. Ironically, he would be here during the holiday break, and we would be kilometers from his family in Thailand.

The agency did nothing to help find another family, leaving the burden on us to scramble for a solution. What we needed, we discovered, was to find another family, preferably within walking distance of Ypsilanti High School, who could take him for a month during the holidays. This is not exactly a small favor to ask of someone, and let’s just say that volunteers were not crawling out of the woodwork.

One Friday night, we were taking dinner out at Bona Sera, a new establishment that had popped up 2 blocks from our house. As we rose from our seats, Bethany spotted another local lesbian couple, Lori and Elizabeth. They had recently had a marriage celebration that Bethany helped coordinate with a local DJ who wasn’t afraid to play the “Chicken Dance” song. As I introduced our son, and explained our current situation, I sensed their interest in our predicament. At that precise moment, Bethany strolled up and, without hesitation, asked if they would like to have a foreign teenage boy live with them while we would be away on our honeymoon. I smiled and rolled my eyes at her forwardness, as the couple stumbled to say that they needed to talk about it privately first. Despite their unwillingness to answer on the spot, they were clearly entertaining the idea, which was very promising for us.

Two days later, we received an email announcing their offer to host, and after a few more coordination emails with details, we had confirmed it. Lori and Elizabeth agreed to host Bank while we would be off to southeast Asia. This was BIG news, because it means that we can keep him for the entire school year! Problem solved!

Although we had not intended to host for the entire year, we were thrilled with the idea, since we had grown to love our new Thai son. Financially, this had sounded like a risky venture. A teenage boy? Don’t they have hollow legs? Why would anyone volunteer to feed one of those for an entire school year? Were we out of our minds?!? Luckily, Bank doesn’t actually eat much more than us, and is very amenable to our diverse, vegetarian cooking. Plus, although we get no stipend for our outlay, it is richly repaid in his kindness and gratitude. He’s a terrific kid.

“We can afford to keep the boy,” I announced to my wife, tongue in cheek. As the official ‘father’ of the household- at least according to the paperwork we signed to become his legal guardians- I felt that it was my duty to make this financial decision. As long as we stuck to our budget, we were in good shape. This did, however, require cutting back on eating out, a sacrifice that Bethany would suffer the most. She has gladly taken one for the team, and truly stepped up to play the role of the ‘Mother.’ She prepared balanced lunches for Bank to take to school, and often greets me at the door with dinner ready. She works hard to keep our large home clean and tidy, especially when we have guests coming to stay with us. She’s just missing the high heels and doily apron to complete the stereotypical housewife role. Of course, my wife is also a full time student, and committed community member. She’s basically a rock star, and I just go to work and bring home the paycheck. Yep, two lesbians and our Thai exchange student. We’re just your typical American family!

halloween housewife3

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