I recently came across a book titled Boomerang Kids: how to live with adult children who return home. I haven’t read it, but I can gather that it deals with the conflict and issues that arise from kids who just can’t seem to get off the teet.
What caught my attention the most, though, was my own reaction to the subject. I scoffed at the idea of returning to live at home. In my culture this practice is usually, but not always, thought of as weak or a result of poor parenting. We praise independence and being able to “take care of yourself.” Now I’m sure the author is writing mostly about unhealthy instances of this phenomenon, but when I was in India I met a new breed of boomerang kids. The kids who should have aged out of the orphanage did not fit into my stereotype and I realized that I could learn a thing or two from their return.
As you walk around The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission, or “the farm” as its endearingly called, you meet heaps of different people. There are children, adults, elderly, locals, foreigners, neighbors, visitors, and people from seemingly every walk of life. But the one group in particular caught my eye: the young adults.
At first these 18 to 25 (and in some cases mid 30s) year olds didn’t seem all that different from anyone else at the farm. People knew their names, they fit in, and they were loved. Then I remembered something that is easily forgotten at the farm; this place is an orphanage! In most orphanage once you hit that magical age of 18, you’re on your own buddy. So why are these young adults still here?
The answer is simple; they are a part of the family! And as a a part of THIS family they are welcome to go or…stay.
Some teens at the Farm who hit the age of traditionally leaving home head out to the big city, get a job, and make it on their own while others stay and work at the farm. But even if they go out on their own someone will keep in touch and even go visit to see how they are doing……. like family!
You would think the young adults who stay at the farm are there because they have nowhere else to go, but its just not true. They love it there. They have jobs to fulfill and they are also pouring into the younger children that they were once themselves.
Sunny, used to be one of the boys on the farm and now he is the farm manager. Nancy and Rochelle help prepare meals so everyone stays full. There are endless jobs to be given and the adults that stay on take responsibility and enjoy their work! Some kids leave but end up coming back to the farm. Some come back just to get married on the farm property. It really is just like one big family!
You see, this is all a testament to the kind of orphanage GSAM is. It holds a special place in the hearts of the kids who call it home. They stay, they come back, they visit, they boomerang. I was only at the farm for about 14 days, but I already have nieces, nephews, brothers, and sisters who live there. And I pray that someday I get to boomerang back to the farm myself.