Here’s another amazing story of the blessing that is adoption!
This is the story of TJ and Valery, along with their children Arianna, age 9, Johnovan, age 8, Addelyn, age 6, and Deandre, age 6. Their family has been enlarged and enhanced by adoption out of the foster care system.
TJ and Valery had 2 biological children when they decided to consider adoption. Both pregnancies were extremely difficult. Valery was on bed rest for 22 week for their first daughter, then 6 weeks for their second daughter. Their third pregnancy sadly ended in miscarriage. It was during this difficult time that they realized their longing for more children.
They decided to pursue international adoption and did a tremendous amount of research They kept hitting road block after road block and felt that perhaps their path needed to change. After coming across websites about foster care and adoption, they chose to sign up for fostering classes. Within a month, they were well on their way to becoming a licensed foster home.
Shortly after being licensed, Valery learned of 2 boys possibly in need of an adoptive home. Valery was able to speak to the foster-mother of the boys and decided to become their primary respite provider. Respite is a service that foster families do for each other – like babysitting. The family provided respite for several months and enjoyed getting to know the boys.
In July of 2011, TJ and Valery were invited to attend an adoption staffing for the boys. There were 2 other families that were interviewed as well. Adoption staffings are part of the selection process through the foster care system. A staffing is a formal interview with potential adoptive homes and the team members who have been involved with the case from the beginning. Two days passed until they got the phone call they had been waiting for. TJ and Valery were selected as the adoptive family for the boys!
The family finalized their adoption in June of 2012! The boys now have a family to call their own and a place to grow their wings. This is what all children deserve. The family did not stop at adoption though as they continue to provide foster care to children with higher level of needs; such as emotional and behavioral issues. Even before being matched with Johnovan and Deandre, they provided foster care and helped reunify children with their birth parents.
Growing up, Valery had the goal of eventually being a foster/adoptive parent. She had friends in the foster care system and hoped one day that she too would provide a home to children in need. TJ was a little more slow to warm up to the idea. However, with the wonderful support of their extended family, their decision to become foster/adoptive parents was one that they do not regret.
The biggest joy they get out of parenting their children is watching them achieve milestones in their lives. One of the boys struggled immensely in reading and had fairly severe behavior problems at school. Through the efforts of Valery advocating for his needst, he is doing very well and has made tremendous strides. She believes that love, attention, security, and “good ole’ fashion” mothering have played parts in his success.
The biggest challenge of their experience so far has been understanding and parenting children with behavioral issues that are directly tied to the chaotic home environment and/or abuse and neglect the children have experienced. They have learned that progress may be slow, but at least it is progress! Plus, a sense of humor is key to enjoying each other’s diversity and the unique factors that make up their family. TJ and Valery urge others to consider taking in older youth who are in the foster care system. They love babies, but have found that older children add so much to a family, and need stability in their lives.
Foster care and adoption has taught them to be more open-minded about people and to empathize a little more with parents whose children are throwing tantrums. Valery knows now that one’s experience as a child may shape his or her approach to parenting as an adult, and one really never knows what someone else has been through in life.
TJ and Valery believe they are like most families. They are busy running the kids back and forth for their extracurricular activities, and breaking up fights between siblings. They have those parenting moments of praising each other for tasks well done, and getting on to each other for tasks undone. They look different and come from different pasts, but they are family.
In Valery’s words, “We’ve got our ups and downs and sometimes the downs feel really down, but then something wonderful happens and the love of our family pulls us all back together again.”
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:7