Happiness one day at a time through foster care adoption
Amanda adopted her son Matthew earlier this year with her husband Kelly. Amanda shared her experience with adoption and why her family decided to adopt from foster care.
Learning we had matched with Matthew was one of the most amazing feelings. Kelly was out of town so we weren't together when we got the news, but we screamed for joy over the phone for an hour. We kept calling each other over and over to talk about it. We were so excited!
I remember staring at the few pictures we had of Matthew. I studied all the curves of his face, all of his features. I sat down and wrote a letter to him right then and there. I told him how we couldn't wait to get to know him and hold him in real life, how we knew he would have mixed emotions about this big change, and we would be there with him through it all. He was only 12 months old and wouldn’t be able to read the letter, but I felt it would be important for him to read later in life, to see the joy and love we were feeling in that moment.
I had the best time calling all of Matthew’s future grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles, sharing the news. More screaming and cheering and tears of joy.
I called his foster mom daily. I started making up funny reasons to call ("What bath soap does he like?"), just on the off-chance I would hear his voice in the background. His foster mom was very accommodating and sweet, and completely understood the anticipation.
The two weeks we had to wait to meet him felt like ten years. It's funny what you can accomplish in 2 weeks.
Crib? Check. Bedroom decorated? Check. Bottles, diapers, clothes? Check. Emergency baby shower thrown by friends? Check! We would come home from work with toys, baby carriers, and clothes dropped off on our porch. We were very lucky to have such an amazing support group.
The day we met Matthew was just as awesome as we had imagined. He was grabbing our faces and tracing our faces with his fingers, smiling and laughing with us. "He knows, he knows you are his parents, look at that!", said his caseworker. Although I don't think he knew we were his forever parents at that moment, those words felt like magic.
After a 5-day transition, we brought Matthew home. I remember so many days of developing a routine and playing on the carpet, rolling balls, stacking blocks, and trying to figure out his favorite foods. It's such a special time in the grand scheme of life. The opportunity to unplug from the outside world and just focus on our family was nice.
Kelly and I felt like lost, brand new parents all over again. Our arms were sore from rocking him to sleep, t-shirts stained from spaghetti sauce fingers, counters full of baby bottles and spilled Goldfish crackers. These are moments you dream of when starting the foster care adoption process.
Our daughter Audrey didn’t start kindergarten for a few months so she was right there with us, practicing her big sister skills. We would take Matthew on walks around the block and Audrey would push the stroller. Those moments are fun to look back on.
Watching him walk around the house with his 'blankey', open the cupboard to grab a snack, causally sit on the couch and cross his legs like a little man, all that while humming a tune in his head – it’s the most amazing feeling of pride and comfort.
We hope Matthew has all the self-confidence to tackle life's challenges. He's so funny, smart, talented, and kind. We’re committed to his success and are connected with specialists and community members so that we can give him the best possible start in life. We hope he knows how awesome he is, and how many people are ready to help him through life’s challenges. Our village is strong and supportive. He will never be alone.
To those considering foster care adoption: listen to your Boys & Girls Aid teachers and your clinician. The tools and skills we learned in classes and support groups was spot on. It helped us act with insight and empathy, to see the world through the eyes of a child.
Children are in foster care not because of anything they did. It's not their fault their parents are incapable of making good decisions for them. Stability, consistency, and love shouldn't be considered a gift. Children shouldn't feel "lucky" to be adopted or cared for, it should be the minimum expectation for a human. All children deserve those things. We felt we had extra to give; extra energy, extra love, extra effort. What better way to spend your energy than on a child? Foster care adoption is beautiful, and we’re so proud to be a part of this community.
When we first met Matthew, he had stiff legs from trauma he encountered in the womb. He was also sensitive to textures and didn’t like walking on grass or sand. A few months after being placed with us, he broke his leg playing with his sister (not our favorite moment.) He wore a cast for 8 weeks of summer and was smiling the whole way through. We worked with physical therapists and got his muscles relaxed and legs moving with full range of motion. He is now running, jumping, climbing like any other 2-year-old. Now, the beach is his favorite place. When we pull up to the beach he claps and cheers, “Beach! Beach! Yayyy Yayyy Yayyy!”.
When it was time to take Matthew’s cast off, his orthopedic surgeon brought us into his office to show us Matthew’s x-rays. He compared the x-ray of the broken bone and the x-ray of the healed bone.
“Pediatric orthopedics is truly amazing”, he said. “A broken bone in a child this small heals in a way where it is now stronger than before the break.”
Sure enough, the image of his healed leg was glowing white with a whole new layer of strength and bone on it. I thought to myself, what a symbol. A symbol of what Matthew has been through in his life. He is truly a resilient child, and we couldn't be prouder to be his chosen parents.