Abandoned, unschooled and living on the Memphis streets, Michael Oher was taken in by a wealthy white family who tutored him, taught him how to behave and enabled him to qualify (just barely) for a college football scholarship that’s expected to lead to a NFL career. In a City Journal review of Blind Side, Michael Lewis’ book on football, Steven Malanga focuses on the intensive parenting that changed Oher’s life.
Michael Oher found a family under the most extraordinary circumstances, a family with both the will and the resources to reverse years of neglect. But Lewis makes clear . . . that many more kids like Oher fall behind because no government bureaucracy or program can provide what he received. In case anyone has any doubts, Lewis lays it all out in perhaps the bookâ€™s most perceptive lines: â€œThere was a new force in Michael Oherâ€™s life: a woman paying extremely close attention to him who had an eye for detail, a nose for trouble, the heart of a lion, and the will of a storm trooper. A mother.â€
Oher found that family only because a Christian school saw his potential for football glory — he is very large and very fast — and gave him a scholarship.
Still, more children from desperately dysfunctional families — Oher’s single mother is an addict — could be freed for adoption earlier in life and given a chance.
Adoptive parents “invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents do,” according to a new national study published in the American Sociological Review. Adoptive parents spend more time reading to their children, talking to them about their problems and helping with homework; they’re more likely to eat together and go to cultural events.
Even when researchers took into account the financial edge of adoptive parents, they still did better than biological parents. Compared to single-parent and step-parent families, adoptive parents were rated much better.