“Family to us is love. Love makes a house a home.”
When Amy first met Emily, 19, she explained it “just fit.” “I can’t explain it,” Amy said, “it just clicked. I felt like her mother right away.”
Both sets of Amy’s grandparents had adopted, so she was exposed to the process early on. Even as a child, Amy knew she would like to adopt one day. Her heart broke for those children who didn’t have someone to call “mommy,” and she always felt like every child, no matter their age, should have a mom. “When they go to college and start having their own family; they still need their mom,” Amy explained.
Amy is a single mother of two and a foster mother. “Patience and understanding is key to filling in the blanks, it is important to never give up – even when boundaries are tested,” Amy stated. Emily was placed with Amy at age 19 and legally adopted at 20. Once adopted, Emily not only gained a mother, but gained siblings as she became an older sister. Emily never gave up on the idea of finding a forever family, and she feels like it’s important for older youth to know that a forever family “will come when you least expect it.”
For Emily, the best part of being adopted is having somewhere to call home. “I have a place I belong, and I have a family that doesn’t care if I need time alone or that I don’t like hugs,” Emily said. “They still love me, and they always will.”
James, Sarah, Jacob & John
“Just because they are older doesn’t mean they do not still need time and love.”
Noah and Mary began their journey as foster and adoptive parents many years ago. Since then, they have adopted twelve children and greatly extended their family. “We felt like God wanted us to reach out,” Mary explained, “There is such a need for children to have a home for a lifetime.”
About two years ago, the family adopted James and a sibling group of three who had been featured in the Missouri Heart Gallery. At the time of adoption, James was 14 years old, and the three siblings, Sarah, Jacob, and John were 11, 10, and 9.
According to Sarah, being a part of a forever family has taught her about “responsibility, hard work, and how to notice the feelings of other people.” Jacob said, “I’ve especially been learning to show love for my brothers, sisters, and parents. They’ve been teaching me about God.” John, the youngest of the siblings, excitedly added, “We have a lot of fun and go places together!”
The older age of the children did not detour this family, as they saw potential in all of them. “Just because they are older doesn’t mean they do not still need time and love,” they explained.
Jacob said the best part about being adopted is “belonging, feeling wanted, and having hope for my future.” James explained that it felt good to have parents that love him unconditionally and will stick with him through the good and the bad times.
Noah and Mary said that if they had just one piece of advice to those interested in adoption, it would be to be strong and be committed. By opening their home and hearts to these children, Noah and Mary have allowed them to learn and grow in a stable environment. When asked, all of the children agreed that having a forever family meant that they feel “loved, happy and cared for.”
“People ask me many times, do you love your adopted kids as much as your biological ones? The answer is an overwhelming yes, and sometimes it happens even before you meet them.”
We weren’t looking to adopt again. At that time, our oldest adopted daughter had been settled in for five years and was getting close to graduating from high school. Still, I was curious about the waiting kids out there. I looked at the Heart Gallery and the Adoption Exchange lists once a week. Would these kids get placed? How long did they wait? But then I saw Katie’s picture. Veterans of two multi-racial adoptions, looks were not what mattered to us. Regardless, what I saw in Katie was a preteen girl that looked like my wife, but with my nose and my blue eyes. My heart claimed her and I couldn’t get out of my head that this could be our daughter, and she was out there, waiting.
For the next year I kept asking about her, even waiting through another match she had that failed. My wife thought I was a little loony, but in the end, my heart was right. She was our daughter, she is our daughter, and she always will be. When we brought her home, she still had the hat she wore in her Heart Gallery pictures. A symbol of her past that we had never seen, the hat was foreign, but it disappeared quickly. She left her name behind as well because she wanted a fresh start with a new attitude. Dawn was the girl in the Heart Gallery, but Katie moved in with us.
People ask me many times, do you love your adopted kids as much as your biological ones? The answer is an overwhelming yes, and sometimes it happens even before you meet them. She’s growing up fast now; driving a car, getting a job, and getting asked out to prom.
I’m proud of the changes she has made and the woman she is becoming. Other dads are upset because their little girls grow up quickly, but I’m just glad I didn’t miss more.