November is National Adoption Month
National Adoption Month is celebrated every November, to acknowledge families who have welcomed children into their homes, and also to raise awareness of the need for adoptive families. During National Adoption Month, Indiana Adoption Program partners with DCS, CASA, and the courts to plan events in the courts and the community at large. Because of public health concerns, many of these celebrations are not happening this year. But not even a pandemic can stop us from honoring adoptees and their families! All month long, we will be posting stories, photos, news coverage and more.
Highlights from National Adoption Month 2020
2020 Feature Families
As part of our National Adoption Month celebrations, we selected families who adopted through Indiana Adoption Program in 2020 to highlight as “Feature Families.” Throughout the month, we shared their stories to honor adoptees and their families, and to encourage others who may be considering adoption through foster care.
Chris and Emily Armey
When Chris and Emily Armey decided to foster, they knew it would be challenging, but they wanted to make a positive impact on each child they fostered. Although they were foster parents, the Armeys were open to providing a permanent loving home to a child if that became an option. 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!” Both Chris and Emily credit their foster care agency with providing a lot of support as they all adjusted to the new shape of their family – and they encourage anyone who is wondering if adoption is right for them to consider it!
Tara and Derek Blankinship
Tara & Derek Blankinship started their adoption journey when their youngest son, Aiden, was placed with them through kinship care. After obtaining their foster license for Aiden, they realized how many amazing kids in foster care were in need of a permanent family. While still fostering Aiden, the Blankinships met Austin (who was 16 at the time) through Indiana Adoption Program. This year, both Austin and Aiden became “official” Blankinships!
We asked Tara and Derek when they knew that these children were meant to be part of their family forever: “For both of them we knew pretty much immediately that we were in it for the long haul, whatever that meant. With foster care, adoption is never guaranteed, but when the time came where adoption became an option there was never any hesitation. We loved them both so much that the rest was easy.”
Matthew & Christine Bonnell
When the Bonnells became foster parents, they knew that they eventually wanted to adopt. They weren’t sure when that would happen, but Matthew and Christine trusted the process and went into every placement with open minds and hearts. The family finalized all 4 children’s adoptions in April of this year. Their perspective on adoption is so realistic, honest, and hopeful that we just had to share their note to us in its entirety.
“Adopting children who have been in and out of other homes, not feeling like they belong or even wanted, not feeling loved, not having a loving family to call their own, is hard. It is so hard to know that you can’t take away their pain and to make everything all better. But isn’t parenting hard?
We’ve talked to several friends who gave birth to their children and, let me tell you, we share some of the same struggles. Sure, we typically have more therapy appointments, more baggage that we as adoptive 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 in this world and we are proud to be their parents. They are our greatest journey and we will be by their sides no matter what.”
Shauna and Richard Day
Shauna and Richard began to explore adoption after learning that they couldn’t have biological children. They were astonished to learn how many foster children need loving homes – so they decided to start there, and pursue adoption later. In March, the Days adopted Camran, Anna, and Henry.
To families considering fostering or adopting, the Days suggest getting connected with a good support group – even before you adopt! It helps to have support and encouragement from other families who know some of the unique challenges and joys of adoption. They also could not be more enthusiastic about their agency’s support and guidance, which contributed to a positive experience.
Nicole and Daniel Deiotte
Nicole and Daniel Deiotte adopted their son Ezekiel in July. They say that they knew the instant they met him that this child was going to be a part of their family, and that he has brought them a new joy! The Deiotte family’s commitment to adoption runs deep, as Nicole herself was adopted as a child.
When we asked Nicole and Daniel if there was anything they wanted to share with potential adoptive families, they were eager to emphasize that if you’re interested in adoption, “don’t let anything difficult in the process scare you off, because it is so worth it in the end! Take that leap of faith, because you never know what or where it could bring you.”
Dennis and Amy Gooding
Dennis Gooding’s connection to adoption is incredibly personal: he was adopted from foster care at the age of 4. He and his wife Amy knew they wanted to give children a stable, loving home like Dennis’s adoptive parents had done for him. They started with one little boy, but couldn’t bear the thought of him being separated from his brother…so the Goodings adopted them both!
This family of four’s 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. They’re not only thankful for their sons (who are pretty awesome!), 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, and the kids adore him! Brad was really the voice for the kids, and I can’t be more thankful for him.”
Angie and Mark Hough
From the moment Angie & Mark Hough started fostering Savannah, they knew without a doubt that they wanted to adopt her. And the Houghs say that from the start, they saw in Savannah a natural confidence and leadership ability. Those character traits strengthened over the past year as Savannah grew more comfortable in the family.
It makes sense that Savannah would be a leader and a role model – some things just come naturally when you’re the oldest child, even if you are the newest family member! One thing she won’t have to take the lead on any more, though, is keeping track of the number of days she’s been in foster care (1,999, which, in case you’re wondering, is a lot!). After 5 and a half years of waiting, Savannah finally celebrated her adoption this year.
For those who are considering adopting through Indiana Adoption Program, Mark and Angie say, “Go for it! The journey will likely have challenges, but the joy you have by adding a son or daughter to your family is a gift worth any struggle you will face!”
Kiley and Teresa Knoblauch
As educators, Kiley and Teresa Knoblauch know the immense need for children to be taken care of and loved. In 2018, they heard about Christian, then 8 years old, who was in need of a stable, loving family. Although they already had 3 biological children, the Knoblauchs became licensed foster parents in order to welcome Christian into their home; they were able to finalize his adoption in 2019. Then, they heard that two of Christian’s sisters were also in need of adoptive parents – and the Knoblauchs stepped up, seeing an opportunity to provide them with a loving home and keep the siblings together! Zamariya and Janiya’s adoptions were finalized in 2020.
The Knoblauchs are realistic about their foster and adoption journey: it’s hard, and they didn’t really know how hard it would be until they were in it…but they had no intention of turning back. Believing that adoption is part of their calling as a family, Kiley and Teresa leaned on their faith and community for support. “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
As a teacher, Melissa was familiar with many students in her school, including Gina, who was placed in foster care after her mother passed away. The thought of Gina moving to new families and new schools as a foster child was more than Melissa could bear. She and her husband Shawn became foster parents in order to keep Gina close.
From the day Gina moved in with the Lafevers, they felt like family. They developed a routine, including visiting with Gina’s brother Dean, who was in a separate foster home. Melissa and Shawn couldn’t help but feel as though Dean should be with them. Then one day, the Lafevers received a call asking if Dean could come live with them.
Dean moved in just before Gina’s adoption day in 2019. One short year later, the family finalized Dean’s adoption, in the first-ever virtual adoption in Lake County. Family, friends, case managers, and CASAs joined the Lafevers and the judge on Zoom for Dean’s big day. For the first time in years, the siblings were together, and neither would have to move or be separated from the other again!
Although she’d been a foster parent for several years, it was never in Katy’s plan to adopt…until she met Aaron, a teen in Indiana Adoption Program who’d already had an adoption fall through. Aaron was nearly 13 when he moved to Katy’s home and was understandably anxious about whether this would be his forever home.
But, both Aaron and Katy say there was an immediate bond between them. “He’s the son I never knew I needed, and that’s why I decided to adopt him,” Katy said. “He belongs with me!” Aaron’s adoption was finalized in June, with their two cats joining on the Zoom call too!
Many families are hesitant about adopting older children, but Katy says anyone considering adoption to keep an open mind about teens. “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.”