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When Illinois’ state’s adult adopters were able to apply for their original birth certificates in 2010, Joseph Wood said he hopes to find answers to questions that have been troubling him for 45 years.
Wood, a Chicago native who now works County Judges In Washington County, Arkansas, his earliest record was found to be a founding certificate, listed on March 20, 1965 – he thought it was his birthday – the day he abandoned the shoebox in front of an apartment building.
‘The Fight Was True’
When he disclosed his Foundling Certificate, Wood discovers that he was discovered by a man named Caesar Johnson, who later discovered and met him. When Johnson found him and took him to a downtown orphanage, Wood found out he was only two weeks old.
Wood relocated most of his childhood through adoption homes before he was adopted at age 10.
“He loved me, he wanted children in a bad way,” he said of his adopted parents, who would have children of their own. Even so, Wood struggled with a deeper identity crisis.
“I was always struggling to figure out who I was,” Wood said. “Why was I given up for adoption? What did I do?”
As a teenager, Wood recalled that he was constantly reluctant about possible explanations for why he should adopt. He wondered if his mother was a prostitute or if his parents were involved in any forbidden intercourse or intercourse. She feared she might get pregnant by rape.
Wood’s internal struggle took place against the backdrop of Chicago’s southern neighborhood, Jeffrey Manor, which was filled with gangs, drugs and crime.
“The fight, as they say, is real, growing in the tough areas of Chicago,” he said.
Wood refers to 1988 as the beginning of his political career, when his parents were divorcing, and his mother said he would look after his younger brothers and sisters.
“I started a youth service group, a young teen organization,” he recalled. “And it’s a way to keep my brothers and sisters together.” After the local church gave him his building keys to meet his group, a growing number of young people showed up to participate in the productive work they had done in the community.
“I didn’t know how many parents were really looking for something, a safe haven, a safe place for their children to stay away from drugs and gangs in the south of Chicago,” he said.
The lessons Wood learned in Chicago carry over to the rest of his life. After graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in business administration in 1987, she returned to the city and became involved in local politics, serving as a school council member and working with the electoral board.
He recalled his mother telling him, “You have to get up and get involved, wherever you live, because you live there.”
Wood split from Chicago’s prevailing Democratic Party in 1988, when he attended a church service in Wintergreen, Virginia, where he strengthened the decision in 1991.
Recalling how he prayed and wrote to God the many questions that plagued him, Wood said he was wrestling with the book of proverbs for knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
The verses and themes he was praying for appeared during the day’s service. Wood was convinced that God was communicating to him that he was not alone.
Amid his adversity, Wood said, “It was at that time that I had my hand on you and walked with you.”
Wood said that despite growing up in the church, his faith was not associated with God until that moment.
When he switched parties in 1988, Wood referred to someone who told him, “You vote against everything you believe in. You are in church, you are a believer. You believe in smart and small government, you believe in pro-life, and yet you vote against everything Run.
“It just became a watershed moment,” Wood added.
Wood eventually moved to Washington County, Arkansas in 1997, where he served as head of Walmart’s international recruitment and staff.
“Next thing you know, I’m being asked to run for office,” he said. “So I’m the vice president of Republicans here in Arkansas.”
Wood became state treasurer for the state Republican Party, which he held for three terms. He was also a presidential candidate for the Republican Party of Arkansas.
Asked to serve as deputy secretary of state if former Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin wins, Wood said, “Will you pay me to do this thing? I’ve been a volunteer my whole life. My mother didn’t tell me. You get paid to do this.”
Years later, Wood was elected as the first black county judge in Arkansas in Washington County, serving as chief executive officer of the county government. In addition to cutting the budget, he is proud that his county has the first self-proclaimed “pro-life city” in Arkansas.
She points out that Washington County has a heart for children who are in adopted or foster care.
In May, Wood Announced The candidacy of the Arkansas Lieutenant Governor.
Regardless of how far he has come since his days at the Chicago Orphanage, Wood said, “I still struggle. It’s not easy.”
Emotions are fresh when she talks about them, saying she is still yearning to know the identity of her father-mother who gave birth and why she left her.
“I’m still wondering what could be so scary that winter leaves me in a box,” he said. But he noticed that Caesar Johnson said his mother must have loved him because she had put him wherever he could be found.
“I can choke on talking about it, because what happened, they gave me a chance,” he said of his parents.
He has given heart to other orphans who have suffered and to those who have been adopted and struggling with identity and belonging. While admitting that escaping through drugs or other self-destructive behavior can sometimes be particularly tempting for them, Wood said their biggest advice is that they are important.
“Tell them they’re important, they’re really important, they’re here,” he said. “And just because it’s your beginning doesn’t mean it should be your end. There are people who don’t have their influence and influence if they choose to tap.
“So I encourage them to stay in the fight,” he said. “Tell them they are not alone and that they are important. They are really important. And there are people like me who are happy to go on that journey with them.”