In late '08, in a fervor of patriotism, I adopted a military service person though an online website.
I got a snail-mail and e-mail address for this gentleman and proceeded to do my non-American best to send a little friendliness and gratitude his way. In my head, I was one of those "nice women" who was doing her part to give back to those who were sacrificing for me.
The execution was a bit less than the expectation. I am unemployed, but my 'contract' with the adoption agency called for a letter a week and a package a month to my service person. The letter was no problem, the package a bit more so - sending something worthwhile took about $12 in postage. But filling that damned box seemed to cost upwards of $40 every month. Little things here and there really add up, and before I knew it I had a $50 hole in my budget.
But, no big. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make for my service person. Until I found out my service person was living a lot better than I was. He lived in Hawaii. Was already quite high up in his ... ummm, how do you say it? service? He was career military, had been in for 15 years or so. He'd earned his stripes. He went on two vacations in the first couple of months I was assigned to him. He didn't need any of the crap that I was sending him.
He seemed happy for the communication - we soon fell into an e-mail correspondence, which, again, sort of went against the tenets of the adoption agency. Their big deal was that soldiers get recognized at mail call. I've lived in boarding school, I know how important mail call can be. So now, instead of my soldier getting a letter every week in front of all his buddies, he's exchanging e-mails with me in his little office. And he's getting a package of "Stateside" crap that he doesn't need cuz he's living in the States.
But, somehow, I still think that I'm doing my part for this service man, until I realize that he doesn't even have need for my communication. He's got a wife at home. And three - or was it four? - little girls as well.
So, now my fervor of patriotism has somehow devolved into sending Snickers and socks to someone who makes a very healthy salary and can easily purchase these items for himself at the corner Walmart. It has become an exercise in communication with someone who has plenty of family to chat with already. It has, sadly, (and before I knew he was wifed) become a flirtation between myself and this man that makes me uncomfortable because he can't seem to figure out if he's separated on the way to divorce or hanging in to work things out with his wife.
In other words, my "nice woman" exercise left me feeling like I was bringing ants to a picnic. I wasn't helping anyone at all. About five months into my commitment, my grandmother died and the extra bills from trying to get home for her funeral sucked even that extra $50 out of my stretched budget. Not being able to fulfill that part of the obligation was the last straw for me. My service person said it didn't matter, but I don't like to welch on my promises - so I put him back in the pool of worthy adoptees and surrendered my "nice woman" position.
The e-mails fell off almost immediately. I'm sure I didn't explain myself well enough for him to know that I wasn't dumping HIM, I was merely resigning my commitment. Further, I was more than willing to continue to chat with this almost friend I had almost made. But I was unable to continue sending packages and therefore unwilling to "officially" keep him. We stopped chatting. The adoption ended, and last June or July I got notice that he is no longer on their rolls and has been sent home from his tour. (Yes, he did eventually ship out.)
Now it's almost a year since my gran died, and I'm thinking of adopting again. I've moved from Tucson, picked up a roommate (that's a whole other story) and have a bit of room in my budget again. But I really don't want to be sending Skittles and scarfs to a service person in SoCal and stepping in to help out where my efforts are unneeded (and possibly destructive).
On the other hand, I still think it's a worthy effort to make. I still think there's some lonely, confused kid out there in a war zone who needs to know that there are people who just want to say thank you. I'd still like to do my part, small though it may be. I just don't wanna be the one carting in a truckload of insects to mess around at someone else's party.
What to do? What to do?
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