I knew little about Bubba Watson before he won the Masters Golf Tournament. From the name, I expected a beer-drinking John Daly wannabe.
I was dead wrong.
I found he was a southern gentleman who teared up when he talked about his wife and son.
Like me, Bubba is a left-handed golfer. Five of the last ten Masters champions have been left-handed but before Mike Weir did it in 2003, no one had. Bob Charles was the first and only lefty to win a major until Weir and Phil Mickelson broke the carrier.
More importantly, Bubba just adopted a son. I adopted both of my daughters. The best thing I ever did in my life.
I suspect that if you ask Bubba what was more important, the Masters or the adoption, he is going to correctly answer the adoption.
I know it's at the top of my highlight reel.
It seems like parents who adopt their children have a special connection. Many years ago, I was on the board of the National Structured Settlement Trade Association. Our industry needed a piece of legislation to pass a committee in Congress and the swing vote was Republican Congressman Ron Lewis of Kentucky.
There was absolutely no reason for Ron Lewis and I to connect. At that point in my life, I was an extremely active Democrat who had supported two of his opponents, Joe Prather and Dave Atkinson. I had also supported Bill Clinton, whom the congressman did not favor.
My ten-minute meeting was set up by my college intern who had a vague connection through College Republicans.
I could see it wasn't going well and Lewis was ready to ship me off when he mentioned his adopted daughters. I told him that I had adopted daughters. We wound talking for 30 minutes about our children. At the end, he finally got back to the legislation. He asked me how Jim Bunning, who had just moved from Congress to the Senate, had voted. I told him Bunning favored our bill. Lewis said, "If it is good enough for Jim Bunning, it is good enough for me."
Ron Lewis never got a serious opponent after that but if he had, I would have supported him despite huge differences in political philosophy. He was my unique fraternity of adoptive dads.
Just like Bubba Watson.
In a society where many biological dads aren't stepping up to the plate like they should be, we need to honor adoptive dads like Bubba.
My grandmother, mother and sister were all single mothers at some point in their lives. My father was the only one who remained in their family's lives. The rest split town.
Dad saw us every week, never missed a child support payment, called us every day and was an integral part of our lives. He was a great stepfather for my stepsister. It wasn't something he bragged about, it was just something he was supposed to do.
Being an adoptive child can be a stigma for some. I don't think it was for my children as I had been their stepfather first and adopted them when they were older. We work together in the businesses I founded and I think I am a good role model. I had my dad to teach me.
I'm getting married in a couple of months will have three more stepchildren. It can be frightening, complicated, expensive and a little bit scary but I know the advantages of helping young adults become responsible adults.
Bubba's wife and son couldn't make the Masters ceremony. Earning a green jacket is one of the highest achievements a golfer can aspire to. It would have been nice if Bubba's wife and daughter could have been there firsthand.
Instead they get the rest of their lives to have Bubba in his role as an adoptive dad.
It's not as exclusive as being a Masters winner but in making any impact on the world, it's more important.
As a fellow Southerner, I'm proud of you, Bubba.
As a fellow left-handed golfer, I'm proud of yo,u Bubba
But as a man who stepped up and decided to adopt a child, I am really proud of you, Bubba.
That green jacket looks pretty good on you.
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