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The journey of adoption is not unlike a scavenger hunt. Some are scanning the crowd for someone who looks like them while others are searching for someone to bring them home. Some spend years waiting for a child to love or pining for a child they loved but could not raise. Adoption is rarely a smooth road, with unexpected peaks and valleys, but it is always life-changing.
Over the next few weeks, we will feature stories that highlight the different aspects of adoption, as told by both the adoptive parents and adoptees.
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If someone had told my husband and I twelve years ago that we would be adopting a child, we would have told them "no way!” But, as we found out, love knows no color, age or boundaries.
Our story starts 36 years ago when we adopted two of our relative's children and then, almost two years later, adopted their brother. Nine years later we had our first biological child, a beautiful baby boy. Our family felt almost complete with three boys and one girl, but I still longed for a biological daughter. As each year passed, my husband and I became older, and we finally gave up on the idea of having more children. Besides, we felt that we already had a nice-sized family.
At the age of 39, my husband and I got the most pleasant surprise that we could ever have received: another pregnancy. This time we had the darling little daughter that we wanted, and we couldn't have been happier. Once the older children had left the nest, I began thinking how nice it would be to have a baby or other small children romping around the house, especially for my daughter who might enjoy the company. I approached my husband about becoming foster parents. Our home was large enough, and we would be able to give children in need a temporary, loving home. My husband agreed, and we pursued the required training. Now mind you, I said a temporary home. There were never any intentions on my part or my husband's to adopt a child.
As foster parents, we became involved in many children's lives and found it to be a very rewarding job. More often than not, we came to love these children as our own. When it was time to let go, it was devastating. Not every child becomes available for adoption, and as difficult as it is, parents getting back on track and reunifying with their children is a good thing. As a foster parent, I can say from first-hand experience that most children are reunified with their families. However, there are the few cases that do not work out and a child needs to be placed in an adoptive home.
Eleven years ago, a baby boy was placed in our home. He became part of our family—our baby boy. As we watched him grow and reach milestones, reunification with his biological family became a dim prospect. In cases like these, where biological parents cannot meet the requirements set before them by Social Services (obtain employment, provide safe shelter, stay drug-free), adoption becomes the main objective instead of reunification. Family members are always the first preference, but, if this is not feasible, then the foster family can be considered. The child had been our baby and family member for almost two years by that point. We had gone into foster-parenting saying we were absolutely not interested in adoption, but our heart belonged to him; it always had.
Once we were aware of the situation, we stepped forward and informed Social Services of our intention to be the adoptive family. Our son was a little over three years old when the adoption was finalized. He is now twelve.
Adoption through the Social Service system is an alternative to international and domestic adoption. While other avenues can be a very costly, adoptions through Social Services can be affordable and provide supports along the way. The first step is becoming a licensed foster/adoptive home. The second is opening your heart to a child who may be different—in gender, ethnicity, or age—than the one you imagined.
More information about adoption through the foster care system can be obtained from your local Department of Social Services.