Dads in the Limelight
Our 355th Dad in the Limelight is John Simmons. I want to thank John for being a part of the Dads in the Limelight series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers’ knowledge)
Wow. Limelight, huh? I guess that means I’m a legend in my own mind? For a career, I’m President/CEO of a manufacturing company that produces pumps for the Semiconductor industry. My passion is writing about
orphans. Several years ago I wrote a novel called The Marvelous Journey Home. It took a while before I was able to gather the “metal” it took to write the true, unvarnished tale of our own international adoptions. It will be released June 15, 2013 under the title, To Sing Frogs.
2) Tell me about your family
My wife and I had three biological sons before we were unable to have more children. After that, we adopted a one-month-old little boy with Down syndrome. When he was ten, we went to Russia to adopt two biological sisters who were five and two-years old. While we were there, we decided to adopt another little boy who was not related to the girls. He was a year old at the time. While we were in the process of finalizing our Russian adoptions, we learned that our daughters had older siblings in other orphanages. We spend another year and a half locating and adopting two biological sisters who were fourteen and fifteen when we got them home. Currently, our nine children range in ages from twenty-four down to nine. Seven of them still live at home.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
My four daughters are biological sisters. They came from an extremely abusive background. By far, the greatest challenges I have had as a father are those related to trying to help them to move on with life while managing their justified fears, apprehensions and psychological trauma. I’m sure they’ll never completely get over it. I know I wouldn’t. Still, I hope that they can recover enough to have happy lives and real, long-term, and vested commitments to meaningful, trust-filled relationships.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Remember what it’s like to be a kid. Force yourself to view their lives from their perspective, without your experience. Ask yourself the questions you would ask if you were them. It’s easier to lead them when you understand them. On the other hand, don’t spoil them. One of my favorite lines in my book says that “our country would return to its former glory of yester-year if only we expected our children to be what their forefathers were.” If you put yourself in a position where you really need your children’s help, they will surprise you. They will rise to the occasion like you never knew they could.
5) Seeing that you (or your position) are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? If you are currently not in the limelight per se, please still answer this in regards to how you balance parenthood and outside life.
Between writing about orphans (all proceeds go to help orphans who age out of orphanages) and my career, I work a ton of hours and I still travel extensively. It takes commitment and scheduling to fulfill my responsibilities to my children. The nice part for me is that while I am very busy, I make my own schedule, so I can take time away from work that would be more difficult if I wasn’t the boss. I think what helps the most is listening to my wife. Sometimes she just steps in and tells me that I need to spend more time with the family. My wife is awesome. She’s the mortar that holds our family together. What works well with my older children is involving them in the family business. I get to spend time with them and interact with them while teaching them to work.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
My dad owned a yard-care business while I was growing up and I learned to work at a very young age. My parents were pretty traditional, so my education from them was all about good-old-fashioned morals and values. I guess you could say I learned a lot more about my responsibilities than my rights.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
It’s the best job I have ever had, the toughest college I have ever attended, the funnest amusement park I have ever frequented, the saddest days I have ever seen, the happiest drama I have ever witnessed and the tallest mountain I have ever tried to climb.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
The first time I held my daughters, they were in photographs. It took several months after that before I held them in my arms. My daughter, Sarah, had just turned five when I met her. I remember how the orphanage workers coaxed her to come and hug me after she hugged my wife. I still remember that I could feel Sarah’s tiny heart beating against my chest while she squeezed me around the neck. It took my breath away.
If you have any questions for John, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!