Welcoming the Newest Radical

Meet Reece, y’all:

She was born on Monday, and if all goes well, my wife and I will be adopting her and heading home to North Carolina by Tuesday of next week!  I guess that makes her the newest member of Radical Nation, huh?

I sat her down and explained all of the responsibilities that go along with joining our happy band of educational thinkers.  “You’ll have to challenge the thinking of others, Reece—and be willing to have your own thinking challenged.  You understand that, don’t you?”

She farted and smiled.  I think she gets it.

While she may not know it, she’s already challenging my thinking.  I’m wondering how her life has changed now that we’ve stepped in to it.  Would she have the same odds of success had her birth parents chosen to raise her by themselves?

Don’t get me wrong:  I know that my wife and I are going to do everything within our power to raise Reece well—this is a lucky young lady who has landed in the laps of two people who have wanted to be parents for a long, long while—but can our love overcome the loss that she’ll someday feel, knowing that there’s another mom and dad out there somewhere who were heartbroken to let her go even though they knew it was the right thing for their daughter?

And what consequences will the challenges that her birth mother faced during pregnancy have on Reece in the future?  Will she develop at the same rate as other kids—physically and cognitively?  Are the potential barriers that she’ll face surmountable, or is she starting out at a disadvantage that will be impossible to overcome?

I’ll also admit that I have NO IDEA how I’m going to pay the bills.  Between insurance, diapers, formula and day care, there’s a ton of new expenses that I’m just not sure my teacher’s salary can absorb—and honestly, that makes me mad.  I’ve done everything that I can to increase my take-home pay, earning a Master’s degree and National Board Certification (which carries a 12 percent salary supplement in North Carolina), but I just don’t think that I can make ends meet.

Maybe I’m finally starting to understand why so many of my colleagues have left the classroom already.  We spend our lives nurturing other people’s kids, but don’t make enough to nurture our own. I guess that I’ll know pretty quickly about whether I can teach for my whole career—a goal I’ve always held for myself.

I’ll let the bounced checks be my guide!

I’m also wondering how being a dad is going to change me as a classroom teacher.  Will I have more tolerance and understanding towards my students?  More appreciation of the challenges that parents face every day?

Are the best teachers always parents, too?

Or does having Reece mean that I’ll be less of a contributor to my school because I’ve got something more important to spend my time on once the busses leave?  I mean, I’ve always been the guy who gave 1,000 percent to my kids—-spending my weekdays coaching teams after school and my weekends designing whiz-bang lessons and reading constantly about my profession simply because it was my passion.

Needless to say, I’ve got a different passion now—-you did see the picture, right?  Tell me she ain’t the cutest kid you’ve ever seen—–and it’s crazy how much she’s made me think in the past five days, even if she does poop a lot!

30 thoughts on “Welcoming the Newest Radical

  1. jordan Bulldog

    she is so cute! I bet you will be a great father if I was going through this I would be very exiced and a little scared, it is a pooping, crieing baby in my house! P.S. so is very very cute.
    Jordan Bulldog

  2. Ryan M.

    wow,
    Congratulations to you and your wife! she is precious! And speaking as a 5th grade teacher who had a child 3 moths and 16 days old, my wife and my self have tried many things to keep up with the expencises that are new memeber to our family has intorduced us to. We have both taken on part time weekend jobs. And scence time comes and go’s litterly i can not believe my little hannah grace has already grown up so much. I know that you might not want to pick up a part time weekend job but remember you can still see you angel at 2 in the morning and as tired as you are you will most likley miss waking up and being able to see your child. my baby girl can finnaly sleep in at night and i am so happy because i was so tired but to tell you the truth I miss it. Maybe you can start a family night that you have every friday night as a family tradition so you are sure you get as much time with your family as you can.
    And I would never tell my wife this but i tried freezing my childs poop one night because my class wanted to see what would happen and the out come is pretty cool maybe you should try it. But believe me you don’t want to tell your wife if you do. Have your students ever wondered any thing like my students and if your baby recces’s poop will freeze?

  3. Hello

    Reece is very cute. I can’t wait to know how your teaching changes because of her. Having her will definitely impact your teaching and I am glad that I will be able to experience it first hand as one of your students.

  4. Alice Mercer

    Gorgeous. Most non-parent educators don’t get the pick your battle thing, BUT based on your experience with cheetos and young gentleman, I think you already learned that lesson, so I just suggest you treat her as preciously as you do your students.

  5. Ariel Sacks

    Bill, I’ve been admiring the photo of Reece for some days now! I’m very happy for you and I know you’ll be a great daddy! I am also (selfishly) looking forward to hearing how being a parent fits into your rich teaching life. You continue to be an inspiration to me.

  6. Ginny P

    Congratulations Bill! A little bird told me quite a long time you were hoping to adopt, and I am very happy you are now the proud papa of a baby woman. Everyone above me has made all the important points. Enjoy every moment you can. Parenthood is the best job in the world. My own son announced his engagement earlier this summer. The circle continues!

  7. Cori S

    Ah Bill, she is stunning! She’s the second prettiest baby I’ve ever seen! All I keep thinking is she is so tiny, so absolutely clean, so absolutely furless and so absolutely slim-less! Stunning! When my daughter, Jessy Lee, was born she was covered a blackish like fur from head to foot and was covered in a wrinkle-white-pasty-slim, ahh, she was gross and yet she was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen and utterly weird, and no turning back; Mom making in a mille-second.
    Ha, you bet she will challenge every bit of your thinking. She will become your moral sounding board, your walking-talking conscience, your resource library, and your best teaching lens. Heck, Bill, she’s just given you the title of “Dad,” and it just doesn’t get better than that!
    Your heartfelt ponderings pulled right at the core of my mom-ness. Here’s why: I’m not sure if you know, Bill, but I’m a divorced single parent. That’s a heck of a weighted label if I allow it to be. But see, Jessy and I understand our journey to mean one of resilience not risk. Why? Because of love. I think about love and resiliency with your poignant question about Reece having “the same odds of success.” Ya, Bill, no worries, your brief little post here overflows with your love for your girl. Isn’t it the best space – knowing our girls are entirely surrounded by choices of love?
    Hmm. Loss. That’s a big one. A subject most do not want to discuss. I can rationalize all I like, but the mom in me will feel part of the loss that is the part of my daughter’s journey. I’m a mom, please don’t ask me not to hurt when my girl might. Yet, as I always grieve for this loss, perceived or not to her, this is where Jessy Lee continues to teach me. Jessy Lee understands more about love and loss and resiliency and life than I will ever understand. And too, she understands more about connecting with others than most kids her age. Did I do that? Did her journey? Is it simply her? Is it all of it? Stats are junk. Ha, right, she has as many days logged in this journey as I have had, why should her age make a difference? Mostly, I see that her youth offers her better clarity. My need to rationalize life usually muddles things up.
    Ah Bill, your school kids will adore begin able to share experiences with you, will adore seeing you as human, will adore you are Dad-Ferriter. A little professionally freaky at times, but really, really professionally great also!

  8. Ann Oro

    What a great surprise today when I opened my reader and saw Reece’s picture. She’s beautiful. I’m sure you’ll see all kinds of changes this year in your life … babies do that. When my second was born, I transitioned from a full time corporate trainer’s salary to staying home. The finances worked out. There was a lot of juggling and changes in spending habits (especially those first months), but it was worth it. You might find the same thing.
    Congratulations to you and the Mrs. Welcome little Radical!

  9. Marsha Ratzel

    Congratulations Bill,
    There is nothing even close to being a parent. I think the amazing thing is when I watch my now three twentysomethings sleep, they still look as miraculous as they did when they were this age.
    I will also tell you that it was my own children’s bumps and bruises along the way, their interactions with teachers, friends, scout leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc that made me much more compassionate to both students and parents alike.
    I am adopted…and I think it is a special blessing. Children know their folks wanted them…but if you’re adopted…well, you know your folks moved heaven and earth to get you. There’s something powerful in the fact that they could have “picked” someone else, but they “picked” you. May Reece always be blessed by that unconditional love.
    Hang in there buddy…it will be wild and wonderful ride.

  10. Laurie Wasserman

    Bill,
    This is just wonderful, wicked awesome and exciting news! Reece is absolutely lovely, and I know you and your wife must be laughing, crying and grinning from all this joy.
    Much love and hugs to all of you!
    Laurie

  11. Bill Ferriter

    Gosh, guys….
    I’m blown away by your kind words and by your confidence in me—and in that everything will work out for the best!
    This is more good evidence that digital relationships can be meaningful. For you to be as willing to reach out to me and join me in celebrating my child and thinking through what it means to be a parent—a very personal topic—-is remarkable, isn’t it?
    And the words mattered to me—While I’ve only met one or two of you in person, your kindness was as important to me as the kindness of those who are “closer” to me in person.
    That’s really quite interesting, isn’t it?
    Do you think that everyone can have the same kinds of feelings about digital relationships, or am I just wired differently?
    I’m thinking again….
    Bill

  12. A. Brown

    Congratulations, She is just precious! As a new parent, I believe children make us better people in general. You discover so much about YOURSELF that you never knew existed. Enjoy every second with lovely Reece, they grow up fast!

  13. Melissa Rasberry

    Bill, congratulations! My heart overflows with joy and happiness for you and your wife. I know this is a day that was a long time in the making. May the love that you experienced from the first time you laid eyes on Miss Reece help you get through those sleepless nights and temper tantrums! I have absolutely no doubt that your life – and hers – will be all the better because of her joining your family. Best wishes!

  14. Barnett Berry

    Bill. She is gorgeous and I know she will be blogging soon. We are thrilled to welcome Reece to the Teacher Leader Network and Center for Teaching Quality family. Less time for us to grab a beer together, but probably more need for your fav – Diet Coke. You will need it.

  15. Alice Williams

    Congratulations Bill! She is an absolute beauty. I have no doubt that the days of Reece challenging your thinking have just begun, but I’ll take the safest bet in the world by guessing that these questions will make you an even better teacher and a wonderful dad!

  16. K. Borden

    Almost forgot…please share with Mrs. Ferriter that in my experience something in the genetic makeup and/or brain science of men makes them extraordinary diaper engineers and they should be given every opportunity to explore and nurture the talent. 🙂

  17. K. Borden

    Mr. Daddy Ferriter:
    You will come to know joys so profound your heart literally feels it will burst and fears so deep and crippling all you can do is hope. You are entering an adventure that love without bounds and an amazing capacity to go with the flow will serve you well in each encounter. (yes, you have them both).
    Sometimes inches will happen before you’ve wiped the sleep from your eyes or unpacked the shopping bag from the new shoes that now don’t fit. No matter how many pictures you take or recordings you do, there will never be enough to capture it all.
    I came from a family that adopted one of my younger sisters at birth. I have a hunch Reece will fare as well as my sister has. At the end of the day, being loved and wanted in this world so much, by so many people, is what maters. My sister is a mother now with two beautiful daughters of her own.
    I wake my daughter every day by saying “Good Morning Beautiful!”. I started when she came home the first day. When she was about eight she asked me why. I explained that in the moment I first held her I experienced “beauty” with every sense we have been given and that I feel blessed to have that gift each day. It is a little ritual that starts our day out on a positive note. You have so many wonders, adventures and moments ahead, relish them all.
    Reece:
    Welcome to the world and may it always find you safe and loved.

  18. Steve

    Congratulations, all three of you have won the lottery! of love that is:) The finances are a burden that you’ll never quite lift completely but it will work out, it just does. The totality of being a parent didn’t hit home for me until my first son was about 6 months old and it was my birthday. I was sitting in front of a cake, getting ready to blow out the candles and I needed to come up with a wish before blowing them out. As a I sat there looking at my wife and son it suddenly dawned on me that for the rest of my life I would only wish for one thing, the same thing, every single time.
    It was kind of overwhelming to understand and know this with such certainty.
    If everyone understood in advance the awesome thing it is to be a parent then we probably wouldn’t ever do it. Love makes us do crazy things but somehow it also seems to get us through the difficult terrain that it put us in:)

  19. Deanna

    Congratulations, Bill! I’m so excited for your family. I agree with others that parenting changes and challenges your perspective as a teacher and mostly in a good way. My time at school shortened quite a bit in the beginning, but has lengthened a little now, but is still reasonable. And believe it or not, the bills do get paid, even on a teacher’s salary with $800 a month daycare expenses.

  20. Catina

    and then there is the effect being a middle school teacher has on parenting! I have had several people comment how calm I am when my preschooler had/has temper tantrums. All those years of working with very young adolescents has trained me well!

  21. Colette Cassinelli

    Congratulations! Being a parent has been one of the most rewarding “jobs” of my lifetime — and it makes you a better teacher. Enjoy this new journey in your life!

  22. TeachMoore

    Congratulations to you and your growing family! I was a parent (several times over) before I became a teacher. It made a tremendous difference; when I saw my students I saw my own children. I understand the paycheck concerns, too. It is unfair, but not impossible.

  23. diane

    She is beautiful. Lucky Reece, lucky you. You can’t plan for everything, especially expenses. Take each hurdle and milestone as it comes. Your life will be very different and immensely richer. Congratulations to all of you.

  24. Pat

    Congratulations on your new addition to the family! She is a cutie pie and you will have to fight off the boys when she gets older! May you enjoy each other for many many years! 🙂 (even the teenage ones!)

  25. Kim

    Congratulations, Bill! She is beautiful! I certainly hope you stay in the classroom, you are a wonderful teacher. Somehow everything seems to fall into place, albeit different than it was. There is a natural balance that comes, and it’s okay to leave the school earlier each day looking forward to those little arms wrapping around your neck!

  26. Mike Fisher

    Wow, Bill.
    Congratulations! From now on, it’s going to be hard to remember what life was like before, and you’ll wonder what you ever did with all your time.
    From now on, everything you do with have this miraculous aura to it.
    As far as leaving the classroom–I did it last year, and while there have been days I’ve regretted the day to day with the kids, I think I made the right decision, as now I impact hundreds more in ways I never could have before. You’ve got a lot of talent to share–
    Also, as a consultant–you may find that you have a little more time to spend with your new addition than you would have in the classroom. (Just a thought…)
    Good luck–looking forward to all the pics and posts!
    -Mike

  27. ms_teacher

    Congratulations to you and your wife. I will say that as someone who went into teaching after having children that I do think it has made me a better teacher. When I look at my very young colleagues, full of energy and fresh out of college, the one thing they often have difficulties with is learning to choose their battles. As a parent, that’s second nature!
    Enjoy your new journy as a parent. Don’t feel guilty that maybe you won’t be able to give as much to your students. When I’ve shared stories about my kids, I believe that my students see me as a little more human, which I also think is good thing!
    And, btw, she is absolutely beautiful!

  28. Laure

    Congratulations, she’s beautiful. And, yes, you will definitely change as a teacher (for the better, I think). There’s a level of understanding of kids/parents/family dynamics that you can’t have unless you have walked in those shoes. It softens you in a way, but in a good way. As for time, yes, you will be cutting back on your super teacher role. Needing to be more selective in your involvement – choosing quality over quantity – will make you more focused, not a worse teacher. I think, as teachers, we can give too much , which actually may contribute to the lack of respect we tend to get. I think we can act as (or be perceived as being) doormats.
    So, enjoy every moment of your precious Reece. It’s a cliche, but time does go so very quickly. I have transitioned to an empty nest this year, so I am an expert on that! Good luck!

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