The Indiana Adoption Program Blog
As a fifth-grade teacher, Melissa Lafever always kept a close eye on a student named Gina, whose mother had passed away. Melissa knew Gina was being placed into foster care as a result — but what Melissa didn’t know was how much she would be impacted by the news. Melissa and her husband Shawn started the adoption process and welcomed Gina into their family in 2019. This year, the Lafever family also welcomed Gina’s brother Dean into the family too.
When we first talked with Joel and Deborah in 2015, they shared their “all-in” approach to parenting. Some of that is just their philosophy of life – if you’re going to do it, do it all the way, with all your heart. But, some of the “all-in”-ness was out of necessity: “We were all-in from the moment we met [our boys]. We were learning them and they were learning us. We had to learn real quick,” laughs Joel. It’s been 10 years since the boys’ adoptions were finalized, and the family doesn’t think much about labels like “adopted” or “biological.” They’re just family – one that’s doing a lot of living and laughing (and yes, still learning) along the way.
While we focus on celebrating adoption during National Adoption Month, it’s also important to hear what young people in foster care are saying about what they need in a family, what they want, what’s most important to them. Encouraging youth to have a voice in their permanency planning is empowering and keeps the focus where it should be: on what is in the child’s best interests.
Here we are in November, National Adoption Month, with virtual adoptions and limited celebrations scheduled. But, we are still celebrating! We want to celebrate all adoptions during National Adoption Month — private, international, domestic, adoptions from foster care — and honor the adoptive families and the adoptees, even if life does seem topsy-turvy these days. So, what are some ways we can celebrate in 2020, the most unusual of years in recent memory?
David and Dayna’s adoption journey led them to adopt four younger children from foster care. But once the Atkinsons learned about how many teens in Indiana need forever families, there was no doubt that their journey wasn’t over yet.
Ann and Rhande had decades of expertise in child welfare, but that didn’t mean they had all the answers when they became foster and adoptive moms. Through their lived experience adopting two daughters, Ann and Rhande learned things they thought they already knew, which was critical to their parenting success.
We often ask the youth in our program to share what family means to them. What do they hope their new family will be like? What would they want prospective families to know? What do they love? What are some of their pet peeves? It turns out that what’s true of most people also holds true for the children and youth in need of adoptive families: ask them questions, be genuinely interested in the answers, and you’ll learn a lot!
Ask anyone who has adopted from foster care about their child, and you’re sure to hear some great things. If they’re honest, they may share some not so great things, too. Parenting an adopted child can have its ups and downs. The key to making it through these challenging times is not to focus on changing the child. It might be better to change your definition of success and progress.