Hi. My name’s Tariem Burroughs and I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
My partner and I, we always knew we wanted to have kids, even when we first met. Luckily a person that I had – went to grad school with randomly worked in an adoption agency, so when it came time for us to think about becoming parents, it kind of worked out. We went through all the classes and everything and during this time, I was working full-time, I was also starting a PhD and that was a lot. It then hit a point that we thought that, all right, this might not happen. And that sometimes happens with a lot of parents that go through the adoption process. And I had also planned a trip to Europe with a friend because we wanted to like – this is when… we never know… this is gonna be the last time that we’re able to do something like that. And so I talked to my partner, he was like, “You know what? It’s been a minute. Just go.” So we actually put our adoption on hold.
After we came back, three days later, we got a call, and they’re like, “There’s a kid.” And we’re like, “Okay.” We go through all the paperwork and 4 days after he’s born, we get to meet him. There was some kind of an emergency placement and we’re going through everything, and so I still was tying up some things for work. Walk in the room and see this beautiful face and said, I told my partner, “Hold on. I have to do this phone call for work.”
He’s like, “Okay. He’s asleep. It’s okay.” I go out there, had a phone call. The phone call did not go the way that I like it – like I would have liked to go – and to a point to that stress of like just working and just going through all these emotional things at the time, and also going through school – going through school at the time, it just kind of all welled up at one moment and then I just started to cry.
So he was like, “Why are you crying?” It’s just like, it’s just a lot.
I go back and I look at this little face, my son. And it was like – it really got to the point, it’s like, What is important in my life? It’s him. He’s important. He’s the most important thing in my life right now.
I was lucky enough that it was the summer. He was born in June and I was able to take some time off of work and not have to worry about school for that moment. That was a very – a very great three months, a very long three months at the same time. But it also came towards maybe around month 2 or towards the end of my leave that I started getting a little down, started getting a little blue, started getting a little depressed. So I – like everything’s like work’s going to come back, schools going to come back to me at the same time. And now I’m a parent and also a husband.
One day, like, I got up and I wrote myself a letter. I just sat at the computer and started typing and just like kind of let it all out. Because I didn’t know how to process the way I was feeling and in the past, if I was ever feel this way, it was always through writing that really helped me, like, process. I didn’t want to share with my partner at the time. It’s like, We’re doing good… we’ll get through this. But then it hit a point like, I need to share this with you. This is how I… this is how I’m feeling. There’s a lot going on. He was very receptive to it and he was like, “You need a change.”
Once I wrote that letter and then I actually came back to work, then I sat in the chair and kinda – everything kind of came back and I was like, Wow… this is… this is a lot. And now I also have to go to daycare and I have to talk to his teacher, who is a very lovely woman who talked a whole lot, and she kept us there for 15 extra minutes but she gave me his whole entire day. I was like, Man, I missed all that. I missed seeing all these things that my little potato cat is doing and I don’t want to really miss those things anymore. And so that also kinda added to, like, the reason for, like, kind of making a real life change.
A few months later, work ran out of funding. I was like, Okay. This is not the end of the world. And I talked to my program and it was like, “We can fund you.” My PhD program, that is. It was like, “We can fund you so you can finish your studies.” I was like, This is great. And so I was able to continue on but also do some other’s side projects that I really loved, but the greatest thing was I was able to take my son to school, I was able to be here in the evening to, like, put him to bed, and I was also really able to focus on my studies. I wish I figured out sooner, rather, what was really important and it was actually him and just kind of being a dad. He is the greatest addition that we’ve ever created and I don’t care if the cats or the dogs hear this – love them too – but this guy, Finn, was just amazing for us.
It’s so weird that – how certain things in your life just really change your perspective on what is actually important in life. Now that I’m talking about it, I didn’t realize that he changed my life and our lives on multiple planes, and really made me focus and drive and do things that I really love. But not only because I love it, I love it because it’s also I want to create a stronger and a better world for you. I have grown a lot and Finn is one of the reasons I feel like I have grown.