Gary and I met in December of 2014. We knew from the start that we always wanted to have children as our first priority has always been family. In 2017 we got engaged and knew right away we wanted to start our adoption journey. Gary and I first thought of fostering to adopt, but after learning the main purpose of foster care was to reunify children with their parents, we reflected on this and felt this was not the best path for us.
We searched a whole year to find the best agency. Gary and I came across Adoption STAR and we instantly knew that they were a match for us because of the friendly, warm staff. The staff was knowledgeable and consistent. I always take notes of what people say, so I can hold them accountable and never did have to pull up my notes against Adoption STAR. The purpose of adoption is to find families for children and not children for families but we still felt the support from the agency every step of the way.
Gary and I originally wanted to adopt a toddler between the ages of two to five years old. While taking classes at Adoption STAR our eyes were opened. Age did not matter when it came to adoption. We are young parents (ages 25 and 28 at the time) and we learned that these children, no matter the age, are going to want the same love as they would at any age. We feared if we adopted an older child, we would lose time with them and miss out on special moments. We realized that adoption is a lifelong journey and that having a son/daughter was going to be for the rest of our lives and that we would be building memories and love with them for a lifetime.
When we started the matching process, Jacob was one of the first children we inquired on. We learned that Jacob loved Lego’s, the movie Frozen, and playing games with Super Heroes! We also learned that Jacob experienced a significant amount of trauma and instability in his little life, including being placed in 9 different foster homes. Jacob would eventually be placed with his foster mother and remained stable in that placement for over two years. It was apparent to us that it would be essential for the relationship with Jacob and his foster mom continue on even when Jacob was placed in our home.
When we were officially matched with Jacob and started visitation, we connected with him instantly. Gary and I love Disney and we were able to connect with him in that way. We made figurines out of Lego’s that resembled the three of us. The goal was for us to give him the Lego’s when we met each other so he could “keep” us even when we left. Because of the distance (Jacob was from Oregon and we are from New York), we wanted Jacob to have something that he could look at and remember we were coming back for him. We took the Jacob Lego and he kept the Miguel and Gary Lego. We stayed in touch on skype at least two times a week. The ICPC process was really challenging and took, what felt, a REALLY long time before Jacob could finally come home to live with us. This meant that we had to be really creative on ways to make our video calls meaningful and engaging. We would do things such as play charades, read stories to one another, have dinner over skype, sing, play Mad Libs, and the most fun for Jacob was doing some MAGIC!
During the painful waiting, Gary and I had to be patient and take care of ourselves. It was easy to get angry at the system. Thankfully with the support of Adoption STAR and Jacob’s case worker, they helped the wait feel less stressful. Not only were they there to hear us out when we needed to vent but also advocated on our behalf when things were not moving at a certain pace. Throughout the whole process we have been fortunate to be blessed with a team who truly cares about the well-being of children and supporting the parents as well. Even now that Jacob lives with us, we still have post-placement support. We keep in-touch with Adoption STAR, to ensure finalization, to ensure we can remain a healthy home, and to also help with providing more resources for our son.
We want a big family and hope to adopt again in the next one to two years and we know we will definitely partner up again with Adoption STAR. Gary and I created a YouTube channel to help other people in the adoption process. We share some of our experiences as well as mentioned somethings we wish we knew before starting the process. We learned most of these things through the agency and other books that were recommended. Some things I talk about are based from my own experiences of being a Child Trauma therapist. I hope our channel can help people with the adoption process and see that our family is just like anyone else. We wish you the very best on your Adoption Journey.