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About Us, Part 1

By Brittni Vaughn

Blake and I became friends our first year in college, so I’ve known him since 2004. When I reconnected with him as a widow in 2012, I was struck by how the core of who he was had remained constant, though he had grown in experience and wisdom. In this post, I’d like to share specifically about how his experience in a single-parent household has shaped his adult life.

While Blake began his childhood with wealth (more than I had as a kid!), his dad’s business failed around the time he divorced Blake’s mom. So when Blake was sixteen, he and his mom entered a time of financial struggle–which was still going on when I met him at DBU. He was under a lot of stress to earn income, so he was often rushing off campus to work, not giving me much time to see him outside of classes. His mom had not received a college education and had not been in the workforce while married, so acquiring a sufficient income after the divorce was difficult. It was in those early years that Blake first took it upon himself to help care for her financially. 

Because Blake felt fatherless for many years, he also developed a heart for mentoring teen boys and decided he wanted to adopt one day. Little did he know that my first husband would pass away from cancer in 2012, leaving me a single mom with a toddler. At the time, I was teaching full-time at Bell High School in HEB ISD, and I had family nearby to help with childcare. So in no way was I struggling financially. The pain was purely emotional, but it was deep. I wasn’t sure if I would ever marry again, or if my son would have a dad. But to find out that my friend from college still cared for me–that was a gift I had not imagined! 

When Blake married me in 2014, he formally adopted my son, and we began talking about opening our home to adoption following the birth of our daughter. I had first considered adoption when I learned that my late husband would be infertile following his cancer treatments. Together Blake and I decided that if we could help another family via adoption, we were willing to. 

Over the years, we have often volunteered with women’s clinics that offer financial counseling, material support, mentorship, and other services to families facing unplanned pregnancies. Having gone through the adoption process now, we realize that money isn’t the only reason why some birth parents choose to place their children for adoption. Still money can be a significant factor. We have seen women who choose to parent but struggle to get ahead financially. Without an education or an already-established business, it’s hard to afford the childcare, transportation, and time necessary to achieve those goals and get into a better job. In my time as a single mom, I had many advantages: a college degree, a full-time job, family and church family to support me emotionally and even financially. But not all single parents have those, and those of us who have resources have a responsibility to help. 

If we were to explain how being conservative fits into this, we would say that conservatives, like liberals, want to help people struggling with poverty. The question is how we think we can best achieve that. Our being conservative means that we believe we can best help people at the local level, where we can know them and build community. We ought to mobilize individuals and nonprofits, working together, to identify people who need help, to pull resources, and to strive for long-term, sustainable income for their families–through work when possible and through charity when not. Whether we’re reading Scripture or simply Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, we think most of us will acknowledge that financial success is just as much about the opportunities we are given as it is about our hard work. And those of us who have benefitted from opportunity have a responsibility to open doors for others.

Written by Brittni Vaughn

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