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Published on 04/24/2009 at Fri Apr 24 13:46.
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Michael Oher -- Getty Image

Michael Oher -- Getty Image

Tomorrow I’ll have my 3 year old adopted son, Michael, with me. And, while he probably won’t have the attention span to watch much of it, I think it might be a good thing for him to see.

You see, this year another former foster kid from Tennessee named Michael is projected to go in the first round. Michael Oher is a 6ft 6in, 310lbs O-lineman from Mississippi. And while Denver doesn’t have a need at this position I might be paying a little extra attention to where he goes tomorrow.

Michael Oher started off life on the streets of Memphis as one of 13 siblings. His mother was addicted to drugs and his father was murdered. He spent time homeless, finding food where ever he could.

Our Michael was actually found abandoned in a car parking lot three weeks before his second birthday. Among the only things with him when the police picked him up was his diaper bag that still had his birth mother’s hypodermic needles hidden inside.

In Michael Oher’s case, he bounced between several foster families before being adopted at age 16. And even though he’s now a FULLY grown man, hearing him talk recently with FoxSports about finally “having someone to tuck you in at night,” hits home in a major way.

In our case, we just finalized the adoption of our son and his biological sister last month. And while we continue to work with them on their very special needs, we are grateful that they didn’t stay in ‘limbo’ as long as Oher did.

This means happy endings for these former foster kids. Unfortunately, that leaves over half a MILLION kids in the US foster care system today.

As most of you know, my wife and I are very involved in our state’s foster care program and we spend much of our free time volunteering for advocacy groups and children’s charities. Most recently, my wife has talked me into getting off my lazy butt to walk in a 5k designed to raise money for school supplies and backpacks for foster kids in Tennessee (by the way, there is a great picture of our family up on my wife’s walk-athon page).

I’m not trying to talk anyone into fostering kids or even donating to any specific program… I just wanted to share a personal story about this year’s draft with you and why you might hear an extra big cheer from my house when Oher’s name gets called. :)

Have a wonderful draft weekend – and hug your kids (no matter what their favorite NFL team is)! lol

Jonathan Douglas

  • (dee)

    Great story, nice way to end the week and head into the weekend. Draft or no draft.

  • DC

    Thanks JD. That was really cool of you to do.

  • Bobby

    That was powerful and touching, JD…Thanks for sharing that with all of us

  • jchase8410

    JD, I think what you are doing is amazing. My wife grew up in the Foster system, and she has horror stories of some of the homes. We have 4 young boys (7 mos-8 yrs) of our own to take care of, but we have discussed fostering kids once our kids are a little older. For now, I just coach youth football and try to be a positive influence in young kids lives. I too am pulling for Oher this weekend, as he has a powerful story as well. Good Luck to you and your family, and to Michael Oher as well.

  • Jaiu

    “Lazy”!?!? Far from it, fellow Bronco Fan. Thanks for the article.

  • roshon2411

    Great piece JD! Adoption touches close to my family as well. My Father was adopted at a early age and he wasn’t told until he was a teenager. Obvisously there was some resentment b/t my Father and Grandfather. It was them two, heading to Mile-High for the occasional game that brought them back together. Bravo, excellent work! Go Broncos! Look forward to tomorrow and seeing everyones reaction on here, good or bad.

  • Thomas

    Great article. The world needs more people like you.

  • flbronc

    Hey man, thanks for what you do. Theres nothing more honorable than helping children grow with solid values and morals. Didnt konw Oher had such a rough background, I hope he does well and provide inspiration for you and your new family.

  • Josh Temple

    Nice writeup Jon, I will definitely be happy to watch this kid land with a team. What you do for your kids is awesome.

  • Matt

    Thumbs up!

    It takes a special kind of person to do what you’re doing and there certainly needs to be more people like you in this world especially with how things are going these days.

  • (stuck in) raiderland

    What a kick-ass post. I do public defense work (poor people who commit crimes, as in, 99% of the people who commit them) and I can say: when we don’t take care of our kids– and I mean “our” kids in the very broadest possible sense– the results are typically my clients. I find stories like Oher’s even more deeply inspirational, and your gift to your kids so extraordinary, because I deal every day with people who have been utterly wrecked by 18 years of neglect and/or abuse as “unadoptable” foster kids. People who adopt foster kids and give them a loving home deserve a national holiday in their honor, and should never have to pay taxes again, if you ask me. With out the slightest bit of disrespect for the heroic people who risk, or have given up, life for this country– in my opinion parents adopting foster kids do as much or more for our whole nation’s future than anybody. Again, no disrespect intended for our military men and women– I just think that highly of people who adopt foster kids.

  • Jonathan Douglas

    Thanks for the encouraging word. It really does take a village and my wife and I have certainly benefited from a great deal of help from our family and friends. No one (birth parents or foster parents) can do it alone!

    One of the truly daunting challenges we face as foster parents today is to find ways to educate the public on the NEW modern systems that states like Tennessee are adopting. With the background checks, bank balance and budget analysis, psychological profiles, extensive training and multiple character references, the people that are allowed to become foster parents today are a TOTALLY different than what Hollywood portrays and most people like Oher may have experienced even 5-10 years ago.

    There are bad cases… any group of people will have an occasional rotten apple in the barrel. But my wife runs the Knox County Foster & Adoptive Care Association and I can tell you, the people WE know who foster are mostly young professional couples that are deeply caring people who just want to help kids that truly need a safe and healthy place to stay (even if it’s for a short time while their family gets things straightened out).

    I don’t post much about this here… IS a football site after all! :)

    But once in a while a story like Oher’s bridges the gap between two of my passions – helping kids and football!

    Thanks, again!

  • Hansen

    Thank you for what you do and for the article JD! You know, everyone – this is another good example for all of us to be very grateful for what we have. Whether you love or hate McD, whether you miss or don’t miss Jay C, etc, we all must realize it’s just a game and there are much bigger things in life. I wish success to Michael Oher, and to everyone on this site. May we all realize how fortunate we are to have what we do, when so many go without in so many ways. Hug your kids, your wife/gf, tell your parents you love them. Enjoy the draft everyone!

  • robtink242

    Beautiful article i wish you the best. i have an adopted sister love her to death.

    I hope the Broncos adopt some studs tomorrow.

  • Garrett Barnes

    What you are doing is a very good thing Jonathan. I as well will be pulling for Oher tomorrow and I also think he will be a great pro.

  • MattR

    In case anyone is unaware, Michael Oher’s story is chronicled in the book “The Blind Side” by Michael Lewis. Lewis was a former classmate of Sean Tuohy who had taken in (and eventually adopted) Oher at age 16. I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who can take in a child and treat them as one of their own. I can only imagine the looks from strangers if the ethnicity of the baby does not “match” that of the parents. It was worse than normal for the Tuohy’s, a wealthy white family in Memphis with a teenage daughter who took in a 6 foot 5 inch socially awkward (at best) black 16 year old boy. Thankfully they were strong enough to not only deal with it, but to confront head on those who had issues with their family.

  • milehighs

    Last time i hope the broncos with the 18th pick they get Josh Freeman.

  • BroncoinVA9986

    no QB’s please