Ready To Be A Dad
As a Big Brother volunteer and a firefighter, Van Kohrt has encountered his share of painful situations. He quite literally runs towards the kinds of terrifying places that most others run from. But when it came to adoption, the seemingly fearless firefighter was taken aback. Was he ready to be a dad?
Seeing his passion for the Big Brother program, his friends encouraged him to adopt. He brushed them off—his work schedule was hectic and he didn’t feel prepared to be a single dad. However, his friends didn’t stop suggesting adoption, and, after years of positive peer pressure, he finally looked into Arms Wide Adoption Services (then Spaulding for Children) on the recommendation of a friend. He liked how Arms Wide Adoption Services had such positive name recognition, and, as a prospective single dad, he was welcome at Arms Wide.
Learning The Adoption Process
The adoption process was stressful in its own way. Learning how the foster care system works was overwhelming, but luckily Van had caseworkers who walked him through each step. Reading the files of kids available for adoption was a lot to take in—hearing about the kids’ struggles, behavioral difficulties, and past abuse or neglect was incredibly disheartening. Van remembers how some kids’ files were so thick that he was immediately afraid of considering the child. However, he asks prospective adoptive parents to be brave when reading through a file, and to remember that the kid represented in the paperwork is desperate for a forever home.
“Don’t run when you see that file,” he says. “It’s a child. It’s still a kid regardless of the file.”
Matching With Logan
When he was matched with Logan, an 11-year-old boy in foster care, he was eager to meet him and discover whether the two could become father and son. He distinctly remembers driving up to Logan’s foster home for the first time. Logan looked so small, sitting on the front porch steps of the little house waiting for Van. Before he got out of his car, Van took a photo of the boy on the steps to capture the very first moment he saw his son. He still has that picture to this day.
Their first visits together were full of fun—they played at an arcade and visited the Cadillac Ranch. Van recalls writing their names on one of the cars at Cadillac Ranch, cementing their bond in spray paint. Van and Logan seemed to belong together.
When Logan moved in with Van, their first few days were full of fun. They set up Logan’s room, and got him ready for his first day at his new school. Though they soon settled into the routine of everyday life, plenty of seemingly ordinary things were incredibly exciting for Logan. He had never traveled by plane or ridden on a carousel, so these innocuous things were a big deal in his eyes. In particular, Logan loved (in fact, still loves) when Van volunteered at his school as a Watch Dog, the school volunteer program for fathers. For a boy who spent years without a forever family, hearing “Logan’s dad is today’s Watch Dog” announced over the loud speaker was a thrill in itself.
Since Logan’s adoption was finalized, the family of two has created countless memories. They love taking road trips together. When he was first adopted, Van asked Logan where he dreamed of visiting, and Van made Logan’s dream of touring the Smithsonian come true. In the years that have followed, Van and Logan have traveled across the country—Times Square, Niagara Falls, the Santa Monica Pier . . . now Logan is begging for a road trip to Alaska, and Van is negotiating a more realistic drive.
“What do you want me to be?”
Although they’ve had a lot of fun together, Logan and Van have had their struggles. Logan missed kindergarten and first grade, placing him behind in school. Thankfully, he had a dedicated teacher who helped him catch up and Logan’s now enrolled in AP classes. With the support of biweekly visits with their caseworker, Rod, and support from a counselor, Holly, Logan blossomed in his forever home. He has plenty of friends (and always asks for them to come along on whatever adventure he and his dad embark) and plays on the school football team. Each summer, he looks forward to Frontier Camp (a Christian sleepaway camp) and YMCA camp (which he attends on a scholarship provided by Arms Wide).
Van told how recently he chided his son for being a “pain-in-the-neck teenager.” Frustrated, Logan responded: “what do you want me to be?” Van smiled when he repeated his reply: “Nothing else. You’re a normal, pain-in-the-neck teenager. That’s what you’re supposed to be.”
When Logan entered Van’s life, the boy carried the stigma that come along with lacking a forever family. He struggled with the constant changes in schools and living situations that are commonplace for kids in foster care. At 11 years old, he was laden down with worry. Now, when Logan runs around with his friends, he’s doesn’t seem to have a single care.
Van has seen Times Square, Niagara Falls, the Santa Monica Pier . . . but he says his carefree son is the best sight in the world.