When you think of millennials, what comes to mind? Maybe college students in coffee shops, “digital natives,” or younger people who have a renewed interest in collecting “vintage” items like Polaroid cameras, vinyl records, or needlepoint. But how many of you think of millennials as adoptive parents…to teens? Maricela and Cody — in their 20s themselves — share why they decided to adopt a teen from foster care, and offer some advice for other families.
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.
When Megan and Jeremy first became foster parents, they set some very firm boundaries: Nobody over the age of 10, and ideally someone younger than their biological son. Fast forward to November 2020, when their family finalized their first adoption — of a teenage girl! Their unexpected change of heart changed the life of an Indiana teenager in foster care.
Adoptive parents Shelly and Michelle are the first to acknowledge that adopting siblings from foster care hasn’t always been an easy road. At times, the couple felt like they were being pushed to their limits, but now they consider those experiences as preparing them to be the best parents possible for Matthew and Alex.
When Rachel and Kevin got married, they always envisioned children in their future. But they quickly learned that Rachel’s health concerns would make it nearly impossible for them to have children of their own. Fortunately, they knew there was a great need for foster and adoptive families, so Rachel and Kevin decided to get licensed as foster parents. What they couldn’t anticipate, though, was how drastically their lives would change after adopting a child who had a traumatic brain injury.
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 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.”
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.
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.
Berta, a full-time teacher and foster mom, first met 9-year-old Zoe when Zoe started 3rd grade at Berta’s school. That was the year that Zoe was removed from her home due to neglect. As a foster parent, Berta understood Zoe’s situation – and as a teacher, she was especially aware of the impact that entering foster care could have on Zoe’s education.
Brandy and Matt decided to adopt through foster care because of the number of children in the system who need homes. They became foster parents who were supportive of reunification, but were also open to pre-adoptive placements. Now a family of 6, they admit that adopting 4 kids wasn’t in their initial plan. But, they also adamantly insist that their family is “messy, but perfect in our messiness.”
After interviewing for several children and not being selected as the right family for any of them, Scott and Lori Wilson reached out to their adoption consultant for advice. Being open to that advice, and a different approach, allowed the Wilsons to add 3 children to their family almost immediately.
If you have biological kids, you wonder how adoption will affect them. Should you worry about birth order? How much of a “say” should you give your biological children in your decision to adopt? We asked a biological child to share her experience of going from being an only child to being the oldest of 6.
Donna and Jason Kempf’s adoption journey didn’t end after they adopted two children with special needs. Their daughter Eva-Grace, adopted in November 2019, is medically fragile, and requires a special diet, custom medical equipment, and vigilant monitoring. Read on to learn more about this phenomenal child and her parents.