As part of our 2020 National Adoption Month celebrations, we highlighted families who adopted through Indiana Adoption Program. Throughout the month, we shared their stories to honor the adoptees and their families, and to encourage others who may be considering adoption through foster care.

Chris and Emily Armey

When Chris and Emily decided to foster, they knew it would be challenging, but they wanted to make a positive impact on each child. When Michael came to live with them, it was as a foster child, but when the time came, Chris and Emily decided to adopt him.

The Armeys know that fostering and adopting may not be for everyone, and it hasn’t always been an easy path. But, they also don’t hesitate to affirm it’s “completely worth it!”

Tara and Derek Blankinship

Tara & Derek started their adoption journey when their son Aiden was placed with them through kinship care. While still fostering Aiden, the family met Austin through Indiana Adoption Program. They adopted both boys in 2020. We asked Tara and Derek when they knew these children were meant to be part of their family: “We knew right away that we were in it for the long haul, whatever that meant. When adoption became an option there was no hesitation. We loved them both so much that the rest was easy.”

Matthew & Christine Bonnell

When the Bonnells became foster parents, they knew they wanted to adopt. They weren’t sure when that would happen, but Matthew and Christine went into every placement with open minds and hearts. The family finalized all 4 children’s adoptions in April of this year. 

“Adopting children who have been in and out of homes, not feeling like they belong, not feeling loved, not having a family to call their own, is hard. You can’t take away their pain and make everything all better. But isn’t parenting hard? We’ve talked to friends who gave birth to children and we share the same struggles. Sure, we have more therapy appointments, more baggage that we as parents do not even know belongs to our children, but our children are so worth it. I could not imagine our life without them. They are our world. They are wanted. They are loved. They will do great things and we’re proud to be their parents. They’re our greatest journey and we will be by their sides no matter what.”

Dennis and Amy Gooding

Dennis’s connection to adoption is personal: he was adopted from foster care at 4. He and Amy knew they wanted to give children a stable, loving home like Dennis’s adoptive parents had done for him. They started with one boy, but couldn’t bear him being separated from his brother…so the Goodings adopted them both!

The adoptions were finalized in the midst of a very unpredictable year, but to Dennis and Amy, the unpredictability is dwarfed by an incredible feeling of thankfulness, not only for their sons, but also for their Children’s Bureau foster care case manager, Brad. “He was there whenever we needed him. His dedication and love for his job made it so much easier! Brad was really the voice for the kids, and we can’t be more thankful for him.”       

Angie and Mark Hough

Angie & Mark say some of their favorite things about Savannah are her confidence and leadership ability. Some things just come naturally when you’re the oldest child, even if you’re the newest family member! One thing she won’t have to take the lead on any more: tracking the number of days she’s been in foster care (1,999, in case you’re wondering). After 5 and 1/2 years, Savannah finally celebrated her adoption this year. For those considering adopting, Mark and Angie say, “Go for it! The journey will have challenges, but the joy of adding a son or daughter to your family is worth any struggle you will face!”

Kiley and Teresa Knoblauch

As educators, Kiley and Teresa know how important it is for children to be taken care of and loved. In 2018, they heard about Christian, then 8, who was in need of a family. They had 3 biological children, but the Knoblauchs became foster parents for Christian, & finalized his adoption in 2019.  Then the Knoblauchs stepped up to adopt two of Christian’s sisters in order to keep the siblings together! Zamariya and Janiya’s adoptions were finalized in 2020. 

The Knoblauchs are realistic about their foster and adoption journey: they didn’t really know how hard it would be until they were in it…but they had no intention of turning back. “We have been able to see the beauty that can come from messy, heartbreaking situations. Foster care and adoption these are the hardest things we have ever done, but also the most rewarding.”

Melissa & Shawn Lafever

A student at Melissa’s school, Gina entered foster care after her mother died. The thought of Gina moving, as foster children often do, was more than Melissa could bear. She and Shawn became foster parents in order to keep Gina close.

Gina and the Lafevers developed a routine, including visiting Gina’s brother, Dean, also in foster care. Melissa and Shawn couldn’t help feeling that Dean should be with them. Then one day, they got a call asking about just that!

Dean moved in just before Gina’s adoption day in 2019, and a year later, Dean’s adoption was official. Family, friends, and even case managers joined the family on Zoom for Dean’s big day – the first-ever virtual adoption in Lake County! 

Kathryn Prairie

She’d been fostering for years, but it was never Katy’s intention to adopt…until she met Aaron, a teen who’d already had an adoption fall through. Aaron was nearly 13 and understandably anxious about whether Katy’s home would be his forever home too. But, both Aaron and Katy say there was an immediate bond between them, and the adoption was official in June. “He’s the son I never knew I needed. He belongs with me!” 

“We may not have as many years together before he graduates high school and goes off to college, but we will make them count! I have so much fun being a football mom and getting to help him with things like getting his first job, opening a bank account, and learning how to become a successful adult. I feel really blessed to be his mom.”

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