As part of our 2022 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.

Brandy Stronczek

Finalized Koltyn & Deklyn’s Adoptions February 2022
Finalized Aavynleigh’s Adoption November 2022

When Brandy began her adoption journey she initially wanted to adopt one girl. One. Girl. A friend suggested that Brandy explore adopting through Indiana Adoption Program, so she contacted her adoption consultant for an initial conversation. After going through the recommendation process, Brandy read the profile of two brothers, each of whom had a high level of need.

If you’re thinking, Wait? Two boys? Didn’t you just say…? Yep. Two boys. After learning about the brothers, Brandy’s initial plan of one girl shifted. She’d never even had a foster placement, but Brandy knew that she could provide the boys with a great home. Her background as a social worker and speech language pathologist was perfect for what they needed.  

Shortly thereafter, Brandy’s case manager asked if she would be willing to take (yes, you guessed it) a baby girl as a placement too. This wasn’t just any baby girl, though. This was the younger sister of the two boys she was already planning on adopting! There was no question that Brandy was going to say yes to the bonus baby! 

Brandy says she knew in her heart that they were meant to be together the first time she met the boys – a feeling that was reinforced by the kids’ team members. She credits those team members with offering the support the family needed early on, and for helping them all remember to be patient in the tougher times. 

Megan & William Mullins

Finalized Marlena & Draven’s Adoptions March 2022

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if all you have are words? That’s all Megan and Bill had when deciding to inquire on Marlena and Draven. After interviewing, the family was matched. Even as seasoned foster parents, doubling their family’s size was an adjustment! 

Megan knew it was critical to build a network of support; theirs included their adoption consultant, friends, family, and fellow foster parents. That close-knit group helped get this family through rough patches, and is also there to celebrate the great things too.

Bill and Megan’s best advice to anyone going through a similar time of adjustment? Not surprisingly, Build a network of people who can give you a break when needed, and lend an ear if you need to vent (and you will need to vent!). Read everything you can. Be honest with yourself about what you can handle. (Not everyone can handle everything, and that’s okay!) And be patient. It’ll take some time to find a rhythm as a family. Be patient with the kids, but give yourself some grace too.

Jaime & Christopher Richardson

Finalized Avram’s Adoption February 2022

After adopting 13 children with a range of medical challenges, you might think that the Richardsons wouldn’t seek out another. But if you think that, you haven’t met Jaime or Christopher. Their philosophy is more like this: If we have the room, the love, and the medical knowledge to care for a child, why would we say no? It’s just that attitude that led them to Avram. 

A charming and happy kid, Avram loves to make people laugh, and enjoys being helpful and learning new things. He also has significant medical needs that require 24-hour care. That alone would be daunting to many parents, but not the Richardsons.

In February of this year, Jaime and Christopher officially adopted Avram, bringing an end to his 12+ years in foster care and bringing their family’s size to 16…and ushering in a lifetime of new adventures, lots of laughs, and lots of love.

Eric Bradshaw

Finalized Carter’s Adoption August 2022

Ever since Eric was a teenager, he knew he wanted to adopt – in fact, he distinctly remembers telling his parents that this was part of his life plan when he was about 13. It was just something he felt that he was meant to do. If you know Eric now, then you know this fits with his compassionate and caring personality. He’s just not complete unless he’s caring for someone who needs it (which is one of the things that makes him such a good firefighter and EMT).

Eric began the process of becoming adoption recommended with Indiana Adoption Program in early 2020. Although somewhat delayed by the pandemic, Eric was not deterred; as soon as he was able, he began inquiring on children who needed adoptive homes.

Pretty soon, his heart was drawn to Carter. He interviewed with Carter’s team, and then the two were able to meet. They bonded quickly, never wanting to leave each other’s side. “When I drove him back to his foster family (2 hours away) after his second weekend visit, Carter just sat and cried because he wasn’t coming home with me. That was when I just knew that we were meant to be family.”

Eric officially adopted Carter in August 2022, and they’ve both been getting settled into “normal life” in the months since. Have there been challenges? Of course, but Eric’s motto “Expect the Unexpected” goes a long way to helping him keep things in perspective. Besides, “when you start to see your kid have a relaxed, carefree look, it’s the best feeling you’ll ever have…seeing a child start to blossom after receiving the love and support they deserve.”  

Autumn Crowe

Finalized Serenity & Jozilynn’s Adoptions August 2022

At only 28, foster and adoptive mom Autumn Crowe knew her age could add a tricky dynamic to parenting older children. But she felt so strongly about providing a loving, stable home for youth in foster care that she decided not to let that deter her. Autumn had experience as a CASA and a lot of trauma training, and knew she could advocate for any child, regardless of their age or hers.

When Serenity and Jozilynn were placed with Autumn, they initially struggled with the small age gap between them. All three credit their DCS case manager with helping them work through those. He helped Autumn maintain consistent boundaries and an open line of communication, which helped the girls feel secure and able to trust Autumn as their reliable, loving parent.

Autumn is honest about what she learned through the foster and adoption process: “It’s LONG. I learned that children’s behaviors fluctuate, especially closer to adoption. It’s natural for older children to struggle once after the adoption is final, and as a parent, that’s not always easy. But, I also learned that this process isn’t about me. It’s about the children, and giving them hope & stability.” Serenity and Jozilynn chime in that they think their family is “ready for Round Two – and that the next addition should be a boy!”

2022 National Adoption Month Highlights

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