The Fost/Adopt Saga
One family chronicles the first-year joys and challenges after adopting two older girls from foster care. Read the full series here!
by Kathryn Reiss and Tom Strychacz
Part 1: In the Beginning
"'Wait—you already have three children!' some of our friends exclaimed, baffled, when they learned we were planning to adopt. Others, more positive, were interested themselves in the idea of adoption.
Yet 'Are you out of your minds?' seemed to be everyone's thought when they understood the details of our plan. Adopting a baby was one thing, they reasoned. But—adopting an older child from our state's Fost/Adopt program? Surely such a child would have been damaged by neglect or abuse." Continue reading
Part 2: A New Family Dynamic
"We came into our new daughters' lives on a rainy spring morning, under the promise and blessing of a rainbow. Two hours later, we were as close as we would ever get to abandoning the whole project.
"Alexandra and Angie were sweet children, who were obviously trying to be as relaxed as possible, considering they were meeting the people who might turn out to be their parents for the rest of their lives. But as they towed us into their bedroom at their foster home, the meeting veered quickly into the unexpected." Continue reading
Part 3: Settling In
"'When we're adopted, can we call you Mom and Dad?' Angie asked eagerly, on the first night she slept at our house. 'We hope you will,' we replied, 'when you're ready.' Our two new girls had known us only a few weeks, and we didn't want them to feel rushed.
'OK,' said Angie as Kathryn leaned over to tuck her in. 'Goodnight…Mom.'" Continue reading
Part 4: School Daze
"Since the beginning of our adoption odyssey, we had known that Alexandra had a learning disability, specifically involving language and reading. She had been in special-ed classes from the start, and she was proud to have passed fourth grade just before coming to live with us.
But we soon realized that her birth sisters, well versed in the art of 'playing the system,' were the real reason Alexandra had 'passed' from grade to grade." Continue reading
Part 5: Balancing Act
"Our teenager, Angie, was embracing her social life with a vengeance. Cheerful and outgoing, she was much in demand. The phone was ringing off the hook—always for Angie. A pattern quickly developed: We found ourselves telling her to get off the phone and the computer and limiting her get-togethers.
Just as quickly, our restrictions caused conflict. Angie felt we were being unfair. Her friends were nice! What was our problem? Our problem was, having to regulate a child's social life was new to us." Continue reading
Part 6: Finally—Finalization!
"If we had to choose a watershed event that marked the end of our adoption odyssey, it would be the adoption ceremony at which Alexandra and Angie legally became our children.
It happened in September, more than a year after the girls came to live with us. Our family had already been “finalized” in our hearts many months before the court date, so it was a symbolic ending, an arbitrary date selected because that’s when the judge was available." Continue reading
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