A Promise to Show My Son the WorldSally, Drew and Lee at the Great Wall of China.
May 8, 2012
by Sally Bookman
Our kids were grown, but 13 years ago my husband and I decided to expand our family. Through an open adoption, Drew entered our lives, blond, blue-eyed and beautiful, at just seven weeks. I was in my mid 50s at the time and my husband, Lee, was 60. We were older than most, but Drew’s birth mother liked how we wrote about traveling with our other children and sending all three off to college in our application.
She wanted a better life for him that would include a chance to see the world and an emphasis on education. Being older, we felt we could not be the energetic parents we were with our others, but we could travel the world with him, especially through cruising.
We’ve kept that promise. Since the age of 2, Drew has traveled on Princess seven times, to Alaska, the Panama Canal and around the Caribbean, enjoying the Kids Zone and the ports of call. Just how important travel would be to Drew wasn’t clear until we came home from a 16-day cruise from Beijing to Singapore aboard Diamond Princess.
Drew’s longest cruise yet, we weren’t sure how his teachers would feel about taking him out of school for two weeks. He has learning issues; school has not been easy for him. Extremely bright and very social, he suffers from anxiety issues which make it difficult for him to take tests and focus on assignments. Every day is a struggle.
Drew’s teachers reassured us that travel was also a learning opportunity and that such a trip could build confidence in him. I bought Drew a camera for the cruise, so he could literally focus on what interested him most. We also had him write a daily journal.
Some days were easier than others. Drew did not like seeing eel get their heads chopped off in South Korea, but the plus side was that he saw in Pusan one of the world’s largest fish markets. He loved the jade museum in Beijing and took dozens of close-ups with his camera, and was equally fascinated by the street signs of the city. Drew is fascinated by the details.
The friendships Drew makes on cruises are another thing he treasures. On this trip, he met Samantha, a 13-year-old from South Carolina. The two hit it off like you wouldn’t believe. Drew taught her how to play shuffleboard and they ran around the ship together. She is a more serious student and I think some of that rubbed off on him.
Coming home brought the big surprises of the trip. His teachers report that he seems like a new person, bouncing with enthusiasm and confidence. I am getting daily reports that his grades are often the top in the class, and that is definitely new. We think that he feels more confident about handling studies because of what he has seen and done.
Around the house, Drew takes out the trash without complaining. Before, whenever we asked him to do something, it would start a big argument. We all came back refreshed, but Drew seems to walk taller. I think he grew up a bit.
On the social side, he and Samantha are keeping in touch through Skype and her family has invited him to visit over the summer.
Travel has helped define all of our children…our older ones have grown up to find work and recreation across many borders. It’s too early to say what Drew will grow up to be, but whatever he pursues, I suspect that travel will play some part in it.
My husband and I will continue to keep our pledge to his birth mother to show him the world. In fact, amazed and delighted as we are by our family trip to Asia, we are already looking into the next adventure with Drew—a Princess cruise to Russia.
Sally lives in Santa Cruz, California. She’s enjoyed seven Princess cruises with Lee and Drew.