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.  All month long, we will be posting stories, photos, news coverage and more to honor adoptees and their families.

2021 Feature Families

As part of our National Adoption Month celebration, we’ve selected families who adopted through Indiana Adoption Program in 2021 to highlight as “Feature Families.” Throughout the month, we will feature their stories to honor adoptees and their families, and to encourage others who may be considering adoption through foster care. You can read about all of our 2020 Feature Families too!

Zachary Denham

Adoption Finalized February 2021

As a school social worker, Zachary is familiar with the child welfare system, and knows that foster children experience a lot of uncertainty and upheaval. That’s one of the reasons he became a foster parent — so that he could help ease that uncertainty for children who might otherwise not ever feel settled. Zachary also knew that if the opportunity presented itself, he would want to adopt — specifically from Indiana Adoption Program. The youth in this program were the ones that already had his heart, even though he’d not met a single one.

After becoming Recommended to Adopt, Zachary attended one of our adoption Meet & Greet events. He admits he was nervous and wasn’t really certain what to expect — he was so anxious in fact that he arrived early (even before us!) and just paced the halls of the rec center. It was during that pacing that he spotted Jay. “As soon as I saw him, I knew,” Zachary recalls, “and we hit it off really well.” As that nervous energy subsided, Jay and Zachary spent the day playing games and chatting, both clearly at ease with each other. He was formally matched with Jay as a pre-adoptive home shortly thereafter.

In February, Zachary officially adopted Jay, and the two have continued to be a dynamic duo in every way. Zachary admits that this path to parenthood is not always a walk in the park. But, he reframes it as an adventure, and like any adventure, it can be “difficult, fun, amazing, rewarding, and surprising” all at the same time! And as far as adventures go, this is one you shouldn’t pass up, because the reward is definitely worth it! 

Valeria Tanner

Adoption Finalized September 2021

As any foster parent knows, it’s easy to get attached to the children who come into your home, especially if they stay for an extended period of time. For Valeria Tanner, she got attached to her foster sons not just because she was their foster parent — but because they lived with her for 5 years! She knew the boys better than nearly anyone, and they were family. So when Valeria unexpectedly needed to move out of state, she knew there was no way she was going without her “babies.”

But in reality, they weren’t babies at all. Shawn and Leroy are 15 and 16 years old! Last year at this time, the boys weren’t even sure they wanted to be adopted, especially if it meant that they would have to move to a new family. But when the possibility of being adopted by Valeria became a real option, they were quick to advocate for becoming official family! Both boys shared that they’d never felt like they had a real mom or family before Valeria came into their lives — and in September, a judge made it official. Valeria still calls her boys “babies,” and probably always will, but they say don’t mind. It’s a small “price to pay” for being able to call her Mom. 

Amy and Jared Nelson

Adoption Finalized September 2021

When you’re going through the adoption process, it’s easy to be focused on only your perspective. There’s so much to do, so much that you have to deal with – it’s natural to slip into tunnel vision about how the adoption is going to impact you. Amy and Jared Nelson, who were foster parents prior to adopting their son this year, remind us that it’s important to take a step back and remember that the “adoption journey is not just about finding a great fit for your family, but it is also — and mostly — about finding a great family for a child who needs love, stability, and hope in his or her life.”

How did this family find their great fit? Patience and wise counsel. Amy and Jared relied on Sharon Grayson, their Adoption Consultant, to help provide perspective when they needed it. When the Nelsons’ determination began to falter, Sharon was always there to encourage them to keep reviewing the profiles of waiting children, and to be patient if they didn’t immediately identify a child that they thought their family would be a great fit for.

It was that encouragement and persistence that led Amy and Jared to Cody. The Nelsons say that when they met Cody, it was clear that they were a “perfect match.” One of the things that reinforced that they were the right family for Cody was that they got along so well with members of his biological family. Now adopted, Cody hasn’t had to lose those very important biological relationships. He’s getting to keep those while developing new and deeper relationships with his forever family! 

Kayla & Mitchell Crouch

Adoption Finalized September 2021

Many people have a misconception that you have to be perfect in order to adopt, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Children don’t need perfect parents. They need parents who can provide them with loving, safe, nurturing families. And often, families who have experienced their own difficult times are the best suited to being foster and adoptive parents. For Kayla and Mitchell Crouch, this was one of the reasons that they decided to adopt: because they understand personally the effect that trauma can have on a child. 

When Kayla and Mitchell decided to explore adoption, they knew that a baby wasn’t a good fit for them. They wanted to provide complete, unconditional love to an older child in foster care, and knew that they could offer a safe home where a teen can finally have a family. Their daughter Payton joined their family initially as an emergency foster placement — but the Crouches knew immediately that she was meant for them. “When meeting her, it was an instant and natural connection. We weren’t able to truly get to know each other before she moved in, but it didn’t matter. It was as if we’d known her forever and she had known us.”

As delighted as Kayla and Mitchell are to have Payton as a permanent member of their family, they do offer this cautious advice to prospective adoptive families: remember the trauma. “While adoption is happy and a closing chapter, it is an added trauma. Be understanding, remember the importance of your child’s roots, and the mourning that accompanies the process.”

Todd and Tammy Wilson

Adoption Finalized June 2021

When 14-year-old Hannah found out that a teen boy at school needed a  family, she was eager to tell her parents Todd and Tammy (who had been foster parents for over 20 years) all about him. 

As fate would have it, Tammy was a substitute teacher at the time, and she often had Nayvin in class. In fact, the two had already clicked to the point where Nayvin would jokingly ask Tammy to adopt him. What started out as a joke, though, soon turned into a serious conversation in the Wilson family.

The journey for Todd and Tammy, and for Nayvin, has been…well…a journey! You know, the kind with some unexpected challenges. But in the Wilson family, you don’t walk away when you’re faced with an unpleasant surprise or two. You stay, you figure it out, you lean on each other. You stay.

And they did just that. Not just for Nayvin, but for his older brother too. There is so much more to this family’s story, you just have to read it for yourselves. We dare you not to be inspired by it!

Jacob & Jacqueline Cline

Adoption Finalized April 2021

For some families wanting to adopt, finding the right match takes time. But for Jacob and Jacqueline Cline, it only took one glance! “We chose our daughter instantly. Her smile is like sunshine!” After completing a private adoption with their son, Jacob and Jacqueline decided that the next time they adopted, it would be from foster care. 

The Clines worked closely with Beth Dillon, their DCS Adoption Consultant, who helped them navigate their adoption journey. The Clines admit that although they feel like they chose their daughter immediately, becoming a family didn’t happen overnight. There were setbacks and hurdles, but through it all they remained committed as a family — and finalized their adoption of their daughter this year.

Katie & Travis Smith

Adoption Finalized December 2020

When Katie was working at Especially Kidz Health & Rehab Center, she cared for many children with mental and physical needs. And in the course of caring for them, she bonded with them. That was no surprise, given how caring and compassionate Katie is. But then there was Timmy – energetic, smiley, curious Timmy. The bond with him was stronger. Different. He felt like family. 

And then Katie and Travis learned that Timmy needed a forever family. His case managers were seeking a home for Timmy where he could receive lots of one-on-one attention, support, and most of all, love. He needed a family that could keep up with his boundless energy while offering structure and meeting his medical needs. He needed a family that was up for a bit of a challenge and was open to a whole lot of love. Many families would be hesitant about being able to meet all of Timmy’s needs, but to Travis and Katie, this seemed like a no-brainer! 

Today, Timmy is happy to officially be part of their family — and he loves spending time with his two new siblings. Katie and Travis encourage families not to give up on their adoption journey, even if it can sometimes be a long and bumpy road. Ask lots of questions, be realistic, and most of all, “if this is what you want to do, keep pushing through it all.”

Celebrating Adoptive Families

As Fate Would Have It: How A Simple Joke Turned Into a Forever Family

When 14-year-old Hannah found out about a boy in school who needed a family, she was eager to tell her parents Todd and Tammy (who happened to be foster parents) all about him. As fate would have it, Tammy was a substitute teacher at the time, and she often had Nayvin in class. In fact, the two had already clicked. Nayvin would even jokingly ask Tammy to adopt him. What started out as a silly joke, though, soon turned into reality.

From 2 Weeks to Forever: One Family’s Adoption Story

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.

Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities, Pt. 1

Donna and Jason Kempf have spent years turn obstacles into opportunities for their 3 adopted children, each of whom has special needs. Read Part 1 of their adoption journey, which began in Russia and then took them right here to Indiana.

Redefining Progress and Success

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.

Adoption from the Rearview Mirror: A Family Reflects, 10 Years Later

When we talked with Joel and Deborah in 2015, they shared their “all-in” approach to parenting: if you’re going to do it, do it all the way, with all your heart. “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.”

Indiana Youth Waiting For Their Forever Families

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