I’ve heard that adopting a child is a trying process, but can’t even imagine what adopting a child from Iraq, a country in the midst of war with us, would be like. Top that off with the fact the child lives with cerebral palsy and you’ve got an adoption case to send nearly any social services office into a tizzy with the paperwork alone.
But maybe the impossibility of it all is why things worked out for Capt. Scott Southworth and his adopted son, Ala’a. Maybe “against all odds” is just the recipe needed to make it work.
In September 2003, Scott, a single, 31-year old American soldier first met Ala’a when he was 9 in an orphanage. Scott’s military police unit visited the orphanage often, so much so that, Ala’a became attached to Scott and began referring to him as “Baba,” which is Arabic for “Daddy.” As Ala’a continued to grow, the nuns who ran the orphanage informed Scott that Ala’a would soon be moved to a government run facility due to his increasing age and size.
Scott wasn’t having that. Having no experience as a father or with handicapped people, he made it his mission to adopt Ala’a, bring him to the US and provide him with the care he needed. At the time, Scott did not have a job or a home to support Ala’a.
Scott returned home and got to work – literally. He ran for district attorney, won and found a home. He won approval from Iraq’s Minister of Labor to bring Ala’a to the US for medical care. He filed papers to bring Ala’a to the US on humanitarian parole, which has more urgency. He engaged local doctors and specialist who would treat Ala’a – free of charge. He worked with the orphanage, embassies and translators. It all fell into place without a hitch.
Ala’a finally made it back to Scott’s Wisconsin home in January 2005. Now, at 13, Ala’a has doubled his weight to that of a healthy teen, loves snow and school. Scott has traded in for a minivan and won re-election for district attorney’s office. With his sense of determination and kind heart, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll continue to move up in the political world.
Scott’s family and small city of New Lisbon, Wisconsin have supported him and Ala’a through it all. Scott ignored all the norms, crossed boundaries and put so much love and work into bringing Ala’a into his family.
So, Capt. Southworth – everyone here at The DIFF salutes you. You are truly the DIFF.