November is National Adoption Month. This doesn't really have anything to do with coffee, but it has everything to do with this specific coffee shop owner.
Pictured above are my four precious kids. My wife and I are typically over-sharers, and I hope my kids forgive me one day for plastering their pictures all over Instagram and Facebook. It's not that my wife and I crave attention and public affirmation but, rather, we're always super excited to share the individual moments that bring us joy - and that often centers hugely around our family and kids. We also know that even the "look" of our family is a kind of lesson to us as a society: Connection, love, family... those things are defined and established by way more than the color of your skin or what family situation you're born into. We dub ourselves a "rainbow family", with me being Filipino, my wife is white American, and we have our mixed kids and our African-born kids. So I know that we can't help but stand out with our unique look... and I know that with that, we have opportunity to share our story and be advocates for adoption and for rethinking what truly makes a family.
The short story: My wife and I adopted twin girls from Uganda in 2012. During the long months when we fumbled through the process of learning how to be a family together, I also started the journey of becoming a coffee shop owner. We went from 1 kid to 4 in the span of 13 months. The business was my 5th baby.
The long story? Catch me in the shop sometime and just ask me in person.
Taproom has grown up with my kids. Check out the Instagram feed and you'll notice the occasional cameo of a little Pascual. I keep family and business separate for the most part (with healthy work-life balance) but those worlds do intersect and interact in many ways. One of our customers who comes in every day regularly jokes about her daily habit: "Gotta help put Jonathan's kids through college." And that's kinda true... because I'm the sole owner of the company, you buy a cup of coffee and my kids benefit from it.
One of the big struggles my wife and I had in the adoption process was that we didn't actually know anyone who had previously adopted. At the time, none of our close friends or family had any experience with adoption. So, part of this post is to let you know: You know someone. If you're considering adopting, or if you've recently adopted, or if you even just want to explore that whole world for the first time... reach out and we can chat.
According to AdoptUSKids, there are approximately 400,000 kids in the US foster care system, with about 100,000 of those kids waiting to be adopted. Worldwide, UNICEF estimated in that in 2015 there were 140 million orphans worldwide. It's hard to wrap your mind around those kinds of numbers... every year there are about 20,000 domestic infant adoptions, about 50,000 adoptions from within the U.S. foster system, and about 5,000 international adoptions by Americans (see references here and here).
I don't have a ton of practical action points for you. Really I just wanted to be another voice joining the chorus to raise awareness about adoption. From experience I know that one of the biggest hangups in getting involved is just starting the conversation. So consider it started for you. A bunch of kids out there need families. There are lots of ways to get involved, from being a voice raising awareness, to supporting adoptive families, to the very possible scenario of you taking in one of those kids and being a forever home.
Wherever you find yourself in the process, please feel free to contact me or pull me aside in person to chat. We can share a cup of coffee and talk adoption.
Thanks for being a part of this journey with me.