24 Hours of Adoption

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Celebrate National Adoption Month with Christina Kopystecky

National Adoption Month – The Kopysteckys

Why did you choose to adopt?

When my husband and I were married, we went the route of trying to have our own children, not thinking that we would have any problems. Well we did. We tried it one time and it worked but then I miscarried. That was tough. But even as young as my teenage years, I always said that I wanted to adopt, so adoption just seemed like a no-brainer. We can’t afford to do private adoption so I thought, why not do foster to adopt? That’s just what we did–it all worked out in the end.

How many children have you adopted?

We adopted 3 children. The oldest is Sky. She came to us in foster care when she was 8 and we adopted her in December of last year, the day before her 11th birthday. So she’s almost 12 now! Our second we adopted is Emme, she came to us when she was a year and a half old. We adopted her this past June. When she was in our care her mother ended up pregnant and we got our third child, Ben out of the hospital. So we adopted them together – they are half siblings. Ben is almost 2 now!

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

My family was good, I was actually really proud of them. My husband and I were young when we first found out that we were going to have problems having children. When we mentioned adoption, my husband’s family was very hesitant at first. They were nervous and were like, “You don’t know what you’re going to get!” Well I was like, “Whatever, you can have a kid of your own and still not know what you’re gonna get!” It took a while to convince my husband’s family, but then as soon as they met Sky they fell in love and that was it. My husband is an only child so they were very protective of him. I come from a very large family so our kids are just another bunch of kids. That’s good I think – they’ve never been treated any different. That was a big thing for us; our kids weren’t just foster kids, they were our kids, even if it was only for a week. My husband’s family came right around and they love our kids to death. They’re kids and they need a home just like anybody else- that’s the way we look at it.

What rewards do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

I have my kids that I’ve always wanted, so I get to be a mom. That’s the biggest reward. It’s funny, every night when the house is so loud and we’re trying to eat dinner we think of how quiet it used to be. But I wouldn’t go back, we got the chaos that we asked for. I always joke and say I went way out of my way with this, I went through years of heartache for this, but it’s what we wanted and it’s good. I couldn’t imagine them not being here. We had a few kids that came and left and I loved them but I knew they weren’t going to stay. With these kids, as soon as we met I knew they weren’t going anywhere. I love them to death, I knew they were meant to be ours, they just came from somebody else, and that’s fine.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

We’ve had plenty of challenges. With all my kids, even the ones that went home, we always tried to meet the birth families. I think that while the parents were doing things wrong, none of our kids were physically abused, they were neglected. But I don’t think the parents had evil in their hearts toward their kids, I think they just had problems. That’s the way we tried to approach it, which made things both good and bad. We knew who the parents were, they knew who we were, but in the end now that the kids have been adopted, things are a lot easier that we know them. Everyone, to some degree, wants contact with their family, and I still have contact with theirs. This way, if the children have questions I can give an honest answer. My four year old is advanced and she understands what’s going on, she remembers living with her mom. I don’t make pretend that life is perfect. It is what it is and I think that the biggest challenge was trying to balance that.

Why are you involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

FAFS has been very helpful. We don’t get to attend many of the meetings because they always fall on nights that I have to work late, but we’ve been to some of their events. We were able to meet other foster parents through those events, which was great. I know that you guys have helped lots of people.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Wendy Baptiste

Why did you choose to adopt?

I started out as a foster parent. My mother was a big influence in my decision to foster. The first child that came into my care was already legally free, and she got along with my daughter – so we pursued adoption. I used to be a cop, so I saw a lot. When I retired, I wanted to continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

How many children have you adopted?

I have adopted one child – a daughter.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

My husband was supportive. My family was happy because she had previously been living with us.

How did you become involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

I attended the monthly meetings and became more involved from there. Unfortunately, the chairperson for the county I reside in passed away. I felt like my personality would fit well with the vision of FAFS. Five years later, I’m still volunteering as a Chair in my county.

What reward do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

Out of all of the rewards I receive, I would have to say my greatest reward is my grandchildren. They give me so much joy. I love being a grandparent!

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

Initially, my daughter’s attitude was very challenging. Her self-esteem was low because of what she had been through. We had to show her that she was beautiful and important to all of us. Because of this challenge, it took a little while longer for her to be adopted, but we’re so glad she is a part of our lives.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Patricia L. Hambrick-Magill

Why did you choose to adopt?

I started out as a foster parent. I took her in our home when she was three days old. The caseworker asked me if I would be willing to adopt her. She is the youngest of three siblings – I wanted to give her a healthy home and let her to know she was loved.

How many children have you adopted?

I have fostered many children, but I only adopted one –she’s eight now.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

My family was very supportive. They were so supportive that they all participated during our daughter’s adoption day.

How did you become involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

When I became a foster parent, I received literature from FAFS. I started attending the meetings and have been attending them since.

What reward do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

I have received so much. I have never birthed children. She is God’s gift to me.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

I don’t really know of any challenges. Everything has been going well. There came a time I had to tell our daughter that she was adopted. I was afraid to tell her, but I finally did when she was seven. My daughter said, ‘Can we go and find my mom and take her out to dinner? And then I’m coming back home.’

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Claudia Ashe-Gilkes

Why did you choose to adopt?

I’ve been teaching for 42 years and now I’m retired. I always loved children, but I don’t have kids of my own so adoption was really a wonderful thing to happen to me. I tried adopting one once a while ago – I had her from 5 weeks to when she was 2 years old but they took her away from me and almost broke my heart. So when these two came along it was really nice. I wanted to adopt them right away.

How many children have you adopted?

Two so far. I’m trying to adopt one more. The two that I have now, they’re sisters. They’re excited because we want to adopt a baby. They’re so excited, they can’t wait. I’m trying to do it through foster care but sometimes it’s a long process. It’s strange because they always say they have kids that need to be adopted.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

Everybody was excited. They were supportive of the girls because they’re just part of the family. I have family in Texas, Florida, England, Scotland, we meet together sometimes on holidays. Myself and the girls, we’ve been to Texas for Thanksgiving and to Florida to spend time. Everybody loves the kids and rallies around us. They’re very supportive. I take the children with me wherever I go. When I have kids in my care wherever I’m going, they’re going. Of course with foster care you need permission to take them out of state but I don’t like to leave them behind. Once they come into my care, they’re in my care; I treat them just the same. I love children.

What reward do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

I get a lot of love. My kids cling to me. I just sent them to Delaware with my friend because she just moved there and it’s the first time they’ve left without me. They went to Delaware, and in a couple days they were back because they were homesick. They were supposed to be there for two weeks, but they spent a couple days and they were back. They are so satisfied here.

I really live a Christian life. Every day I put my hand up and I say, “thank you Jesus.” I look at my kids and I say they’re lovely, they’re beautiful, they are mine. They know me as mommy. It just gives such a satisfaction. I’m lucky God has blessed me with these kids and I tell you I love them so much. I hope He’s going to bless me with some more.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

In the beginning, eating was tough because they were three. They had been neglected so they came to me with no front teeth. My first challenge was taking them to the dentist. Apparently the kids were left to fend for themselves so they think the mother was busy doing other things. So when they came here, they were such a mess. One day I served them spaghetti and they had it all over the floor, on my cupboard doors. They were tiny back then. The smaller twin was very hard to potty train, but besides that, they were fine, they’ve been lovely kids. I protect them so they cling to me. They’re growing up now and they’re changing so I don’t know what the teen years have in store. So far they’re good.

Why are you involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

We’ve been looking for something like FAFS for a while. At their monthly meetings we’re learning a lot of things about all the help we can get and all the ways the kids can go for enrichment. I was very surprised to find out all the things that FAFS can do to help us.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Yvette Stoker

Why did you choose to adopt?

When we learned we could not have any more natural children we felt as if our family needed some more members, so we chose to try fostering.

How many children have you adopted?

We have adopted two little boys and are hoping to adopt our third this year.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

We have one biological daughter. She was the one who told us she did not want the boys to leave – the extended family was in love with them the moment they met – it was meant to be.

Why are you involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

I became involved just to learn more about other people’s experience with fostering and adoption. It takes a village to raise a child – never mind four!

What reward do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

My kids are the greatest blessing in my life. The boys have adapted so easily into our crazy life, and there are so many ways we are blessed every day from the love and sweetness – I would do it over again 100 times.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

Honestly the only challenges we have faced were from the birth parents. The first boys are biological brothers, so we dealt with the same set of parents. We had a mediation and many conversations before they voluntarily gave up their parental rights. With our third son, we are still in appeal, but we hope the end is in sight. Our children have rules and boundaries and have never been a challenge – any more than any other child – we are blessed to have them in our lives.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with the Bonds

Why did you choose to adopt?

Because I love children and wanted a large family but could not achieve it on my own. I knew there were plenty of children out there that I could love as my own. I grew to love each child that was placed in our home and felt good if the time came where we could do more.

How many children have you adopted?

One, Anyiah.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

Our older biological sons were surprised because of our age. But they accepted our daughter quickly as their little sister. The rest of the family were very happy.

What reward do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

The reward is our daughter’s love and knowing she’s here with us forever. We love to hear her say, “I love you mom and dad, and thanks for not giving up on me.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

Anyiah had emotional difficulty accepting and knowing that we were going to be a family and nothing was going to stop that. Reassuring her of our love for her has gone a long way in helping her become comfortable. We had to remember what it is like to have children in the house again.

Why are you involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

I love the work and dedication they put into serving these children who need them and that I get this great opportunity to help restore families.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Marta Diaz

Why did you choose to adopt?

I was a foster parent at first. When he came into my home as a foster child, he had been separated from his siblings, was diagnosed with Hyper Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had lost some of his hearing. I believed he needed a chance, and I wanted to be the one to give him the chance he needed. He was given an Individualized Education Program (IEP). He was at a point that he never wanted to leave the house. I worked with him and his school to get him on the right track.

How many children have you adopted?

I have adopted one child – a son. He was three years old at the time.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

Everyone was happy and very supportive. They already considered him as a part of the family.

How did you become involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

I began to attend the monthly meetings as a foster parent. I worked with the Chair at the time.

What reward do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

The greatest reward I receive is seeing the change in my son’s life. I have also been fostering for over 10 years and I love it. I do for the children. If you give them the proper boundaries along with love and support, they will grow.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

In addition to the difficulties my son faced, his biological father fought to terminate parental rights. I know it was hard for his father, but I explained to him it isn’t that your son doesn’t love you; it’s just that he doesn’t know you. I let his biological father know that I would be willing to work with him and his biological mom in the best interest of my son. He also stays in contact with his siblings.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Anna Lois Hunter.

Why did you choose to adopt?

I’ve always liked having children around, and I only ended up having one son and he ended up living in Alabama with my grandson so after I retired I said that fostering would be something for me to do to sort of give back. I had started it even before I retired from the post office but I was able to do it full time afterwards because I like helping children and it fills the house, it keeps the house going. I started off as a foster mother and there was this one particular little guy that I had since he was 2. I had him for about 5 years, and I didn’t want to part with him after having him in my life for that long. He grew on me, so I adopted him.

How many children have you adopted?

Just one. Nathaniel Howard-Hunter. He’s eight years old now.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

I really don’t think that it came as a surprise to them. During the time when I was his foster mother, each year that accumulated they’d say, “Oh, he’s gonna stay, he’s not going anywhere, is he? He’s still with you? He’s gonna stay.” So I think they already knew before I even told them that he was going to be part of the family. Once I actually told them they were like, “You finally did it!” But it didn’t come as a big surprise. They were warm and receptive, because from day one, even when he was a foster child , he came with me everywhere I went. He was in on every family gathering and my son, who’s almost 50 now, he always called him his little brother so it was nothing new to anyone.

It seemed like it was inevitable because I knew Nathaniel’s great grandmother years ago when I was small. I went to church – the same church that his great grandmother went to – and to me it’s like, this has really come full circle, that I would get old enough to adopt, and of all the people for me to get it would be someone’s great grandson that I knew. It just seemed like it was inevitable so I went on and did it.

What rewards do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

I really enjoy helping start a life for this young man and to teach him, because he really seems like he’s interested in learning. He loves to ask you questions – he can do that all day long – and he’s very ambitious and I feel that he wants to really make something of himself. I’m going to help him do that in every way that I can. He’s very energetic, he’s been a straight A student ever since he was in kindergarten. He always wants to question you or ask you certain things about what makes a certain thing happen. He’s in church choir too. He seems to be very interested in doing something with his life.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

When he first came into my life he was only 2 yrs old and he never actually had training in the atmosphere that he was in. He was being raised by his father and his mother wasn’t around at all. The father, he actually told me, “I just let him do what he wants to do,” and so that reflected on him when I first got him. But once he got into a structured environment and he could say, “Okay, l know the rules,” he had no problem in abiding by whatever was done. Structure really helped him out, because he had none. There was no bedtime, no respect for adult authority, just nothing. As he grew he saw that and understood it and as of now, he’s 8 years old and I haven’t had any problems. He’s normal, so once in a while he’ll do little things, but never anything major.

Why are you involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

I got introduced to FAFS through DYFS (now DCP&P) and we have our monthly meetings – I really enjoy being in those.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with the Frisons

We adopted a little girl who is actually our niece. We already had 3 boys, ages 12, 10, and 9 of our own.

The story began with a text message from our sister-in-law one Sunday morning that said, “Do you want James’s little girl?”

We replied “What little girl?”

We had no clue our brother-in-law had a child. Our sister-in-law told us that James and his girlfriend were homeless and have no place to go. We asked for more details about James’ daughter. She, at the time, was 6 weeks old and healthy, but needed to be taken within 3 days by a relative, or she would have to go to a foster home. So we told my sister-in-law, “Yes, we will take the baby.”

Soon we were contacted by a DCP&P (formerly DYFS) caseworker who gave me all of the details on the process and got us started. We then had to go through the background searches, probes, classes, meetings and countless arrays of activities to show we were capable of caring for this little girl. We eventually completed all of the checks, classes, etc. We are now a fully licensed foster home.

For the next 2 years, we continued to care for the little girl with the hope that she could be reunited with her parents, providing they were capable of caring for her. As a mother, I could not imagine not being able to care for my child, or having my child taken away from me. But the 2 years passed and James and his girlfriend were not meeting DCP&P (formerly DYFS) requirements, so their parental rights were terminated and we began the adoption process to make her our child legally.

Almost 2 years to the day we took her in, we finalized the adoption of our little girl. She is a very happy child who fits in perfectly with our other children. They love her just as if she were our biological daughter.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Jayne Gordon

Why did you choose to adopt?

I was a foster parent first and a single parent as well at the time. I had the extra bedrooms in my home, and I wanted to help a community that has helped me. They came into my life, and I fell in love. I couldn’t imagine my life without them – they have changed my life for the better.

How many children have you adopted?

I have adopted five children.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

I had two children at the time – a boy and a girl. They understood my love was endless and there was enough to go around. My daughter wrote a wonderful essay that talked about her experience of a growing family.

Why are you involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

I started by attending monthly meetings. I became a co-chair and eventually took over as chair. I have been involved with FAFS since I began my journey as a foster parent. I really enjoyed the training.

What reward do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

I need the kids just as much as they need me. Also, I’m a community-driven person. I like to be a part of something that makes our community a better place to live.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

My children started to steal. I understood it was an illness, so I went through the proper channels and arranged for them to get counseling; it helped. Just because your children are faced with challenges doesn’t mean you toss them out. You get them the help they need so they can overcome.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with Beverly Armstead

Why did you choose to adopt?

I was a foster parent first, fostering special needs children. These particular children that I adopted were going t o be left in the system, they had nowhere to go, so I decided to keep them.

How many children have you adopted?

I’ve adopted three so far: Thomas and his brother Chaz are both 7. Bianca is 6. I’m waiting to adopt one more – Janaisha – hopefully on National Adoption Day. Chaz is autistic, and Bianca has cerebral palsy and brain damage. Janaisha has a VP shunt in her head, so they’re all special needs children, which keeps me very busy. I have a nursing service for Bianca – that helps me out a whole lot.

How did your family react when you told them of your decision to adopt?

My older biological children, they were fine with it. As a matter of fact, because of my older age my oldest son has agreed on keeping the children so they’ll be left in the family. They’ve been very supportive. We do everything together with the children.

What rewards do you receive from being an adoptive parent?

To see them thriving and happy. It takes a lot of work. It keeps me busy, but it keeps me from complaining too because I have a lot to thank God for, and when I see some of the struggles these children go through it makes me realize how blessed I was to have good parents.

I’m looking forward to getting Janaisha. She’s my heart. We put off our Disney trip until after she’s adopted. We didn’t get to do it this summer, but maybe next summer if she’s adopted we’ll get to go. I could’ve gotten a waiver to take her but I promised the kids that once all four of them were adopted we’re going to Disney. I’m going to keep that promise.

Please share any challenges you had in this journey that turned into triumph.

The boys were in my home since they were three weeks old, so with them it was just about waiting for DYFS (now DCP&P) to take the parental rights. That’s not like the story with Janaisha. She’s been in my home for 6 years and we’re just now getting to the point of adoption. It’s been a challenge for her, she’s 9 now. It breaks my heart that we couldn’t do it any sooner, but they were trying to put her back with her family, which just never happened. I had fostered children in the past that went back to their families, and I’m still in touch with them and they’re doing fine. It’s good to see them and see that they’re doing well, that in the journey that we’ve started the parents have kept up with them. But it’s good to know that if they can’t go back then they still have a place that they can come.

Why are you involved with Foster and Adoptive Family Services?

It’s always been my mission to help children and even though I’ve adopted, we’re still quite active in the monthly support meetings and with the foster care system. We’re busy, we do a lot. Even today I’m doing some things like getting ready for FAFS’ holiday party for the children.

Celebrate National Adoption Month with the DeMarcos

My name is Lisa DeMarco and I am the very proud mother of three wonderful boys. As a young girl, I always knew I someday wanted to adopt a child. I was not friends with anyone adopted nor did I know anyone who had adopted; I just knew it was something I wanted to do. In October of 2004 my husband (pictured) and I had our first child Jared. As the years went by, we decided that we wanted to expand our family with another child. And so we began the adoption route. We signed on with a private company in 2007 and completed our home study, background checks and so on…we were just waiting to be matched with a child. As we waited, I knew in my heart that something was not right. I did not need an infant; I wanted to adopt in order to give a child a wonderful life. My husband and I called DCP&P (formerly DYFS) and spoke to their recruiter, and I instantly knew that this is who we were meant to work with. After a year of paperwork with the private adoption company, we canceled our search and started the process over with DCP&P (formerly DYFS).

Nine months after our paperwork was completed, we received a call about a 14 month old little boy. At the time our son Jared was only 4 1/2. We had spoken to him about adoption and adoption from foster care. Jared amazed me; at 4 1/2 he was so understanding and excited about what was to come! We had anticipated jealously or something of that nature and were ready to work through it with him, but it never occurred. Jared was our knight in shining armor! At the end of the DCP&P (formerly DYFS) supervisory meeting, Jared was called into the room where we were all sitting, one of the supervisors asked him if he knew who they were. His reply, which I will never forget, was “Yes, you are helping my family find a baby brother or sister for me. We are going to adopt him or her from foster care, and I am going to be the best big brother!” With that she handed Jared a picture of the little boy. The smile that came across his face brought tears to everyone’s eyes as he yelled “You found one! He’s so cute…I have a brother! Can I show you his new room?” And off we all went, upstairs, so Jared could show off his soon-to-be brother’s room!

Finally, Micah was placed in our home and soon after adopted. But before his adoption was finalized we got a call that Micah’s biological mother had given birth to another baby boy. We had not planned on another placement so quickly, but there was no doubt that he was another perfect match for our family! At this time Jared was now just turning 6, again we sat down to tell him the news, to no surprise he was overjoyed! He told us he was going to teach Micah how to be a “big brother”. Noah has now been with us for over a year and we are currently awaiting his adoption to be finalized.

I have joined FAFS in many events to help spread the word about foster care and foster care adoption. At many events, Jared (now 7) has even spoken to people about his brothers. I must say I have three of the most wonderful children in the world, and I am proud to say I am their mom!

Celebrate National Adoption Month with the Sampaios

When our daughter and son were in preschool and kindergarten, my husband and I decided to pursue adopting a child. We both are great lovers of children having worked as a public school teacher (him) and a long time babysitter and nanny (me). Initially I thought I wanted to wait until the kids were older to adopt but I realized I didn’t want to go back to infant/toddlerhood after a big break. We took our classes, got fingerprinted and did all we needed to do. We got our license in March of 2006 and began what we thought would be a long wait. We said we were open to a child from age 0-4, any race.

We were very surprised when we got a call six weeks later about a baby boy in the hospital in Jersey City. We brought him home and fell in love. We had thought we were going to wait for a child whose parents’ rights had already been terminated but since this case seemed very much like it was headed toward adoption, we decided to take the chance.

There was never any contact with biological family and it still took two years to get TPR. Right before the trial, Mom resurfaced and gave birth to another son. My husband and I had discussed the possibility of this happening and were open to the idea of another child. So, we said yes to baby brother.

The judge granted TPR for our first son but the new baby was his own case. After having absolutely no contact with any biological family for our first foster son, we were awfully surprised when we were told that I’d have to start transporting the baby to visits with his biological parents. At first the visits were emotionally very difficult for me and as they were still abusing drugs I did not let our older child go. As time passed and they completed rehab, I let them meet and we all began to have a really nice relationship.

Unfortunately they could not manage to work their plan in order to regain rights to the baby. So six months after we finalized our adoption of #1, we had a mediation in which Mom and Dad surrendered their rights to #2 to us.

We had plans to stay in touch via mail, text message and occasional visits. However we weren’t planning on a surprise call saying Mom had a baby girl. After baby #2 (which was the 4th kid for us, since we have 2 biological children as well), I was feeling rather done with babies. However my husband was really hoping for one more girl in our family (we had 1 girl and 3 boys). So I like to say he manifested the existence of this sweet baby girl.

Baby girl came home to us from the hospital, just like her brothers did, then went back with Mom at Great-Grandma’s house for 2 days and then came back to us. I wasn’t sure she would be staying with us but we wanted to love her as long as we could.

Now she is 16 months old and the queen of the house. Unfortunately Mom and Dad are not doing well right now so we are headed to trial for TPR soon. I worry about them and have had to learn a lot for myself how to navigate this kind of relationship.

I often wonder if/when Mom will have another baby and what our answer will be. Sometimes I am positive the answer must be no and sometimes I think it must be yes…I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

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