Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

I have a son who is 4 years old now, and as much as I love him, I have to admit he’s made the last four years considerably more challenging than the ones that preceded them. This is not to say that the child-rearing process isn’t without its rewards, on occasion, or that I’m not happy to have a child. It’s just that the current situation I find myself in is not the one I’d always envisioned.

You see, it had always been my plan to adopt a child, preferably one who was in his final year of medical school. I never got around to doing it for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’ve been conditioned to believe that adoption takes many years, costs tens of thousands of dollars and inevitably involves a little Chinese girl. Not that I have a problem with Chinese girls, but I thought it would be nice to at least have other options. Oh, and I don’t have tens of tens of dollars to spare, never mind tens of thousands.

The second reason I didn’t adopt a medical student was because it seemed to me that adopting an adult child is just not the sort of thing that people do. At least, it wasn’t something I’d heard of many people doing. Thus, with my hopes seemingly dashed, I went against my better judgment, got married and had a kid the old-fashioned way.

Happily, the results of both the marriage and the kid have been overwhelmingly positive, although I find myself much more concerned about my financial future than I would have been had I adopted a budding neurosurgeon. Also, as it turns out, it seems I was wrong on both counts in my presumptions about adoption.

Apparently, according to an article from, not only is it possible to adopt someone who isn’t a little Chinese girl, it can also be done in a matter of weeks for little more than the cost of a phone call. And, yes, it can involve an adult.

The heartwarming story (that might be the first time in the history that this column has used that phrase without sarcasm) involved two parents, Charee Godwin-Smith and her husband, Kerry Smith, who adopted a 22-year-old U.S. Marine aviation operations specialist named Billy.

Godwin-Smith first met Billy when the latter was 14 and living at a home for abused and neglected children where she was the development director. Billy would stop by her office frequently to talk and help himself to candy from the jar on her desk, and before long Godwin-Smith started inviting Billy to spend the holidays with her family, which already included two daughters. When Billy turned 18, he was given a key to the house and told to stop by whenever he felt like doing so.

Finally, in 2010, Godwin-Smith called Billy in North Carolina, where he was stationed, and asked him to be her son. He said yes, and three months later the adoption became official. It’s a nice story, and it gives me hope that maybe it’s not too late for me. Sure, a Marine aviation operations specialist probably couldn’t support me in my dotage the way a brain surgeon could, but at the rate my biological son is going, it would be a pleasant surprise if he ends up so successful.

So, now that I know it’s OK to adopt an adult, I think I’ve figured out a good plan for my retirement: I’m going to find a worthwhile medical student from India and extend an offer to join my family. Why India, you ask? Well, for one thing spelling bees are always won by Indian kids, meaning they’re obviously smart. More importantly, though, if I play my cards right, by adopting an Indian I might be able to get a free car.

I got the idea from a BBC News story about how health officials in the Indian state of Rajasthan are trying to combat overpopulation by offering incentives for people throughout India to sterilize themselves. Among the rewards for sterilization are TVs, motorcycles, food blenders and the Tata Nano, an Indian-made car.

I figure if I adopt an Indian, that would sort of make me Indian by association. Then all I’d have to do is get a vasectomy, and the car would be mine. Sure it’d be hard to pass up a blender, but I imagine I could just get my kid to buy me one of those when he finishes his residency.


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