How one family grew through foster, birth, and family adoption!
This past week, I took a break from the adoption stories to reflect on my youngest two kids graduating from high school. Reaching this milestone with them made me realize what wonderful human beings they are. It also made me thankful that they are (mostly) grown up.
Most parents dread this season in life, but I’ve found having adult children is by far my favorite! In fact, I think it’s so awesome, I even wrote my last blog post about it. It’s called Top 10 Reasons I Love Having Adult Children. Give it a read here…
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Before I got all sentimental last week, we were in a series of adoption stories. If you’ve read any of them, you know adoption is a HUGE passion of mine! I loved sharing our adoption story and the different types of adoption so much, that I just had to continue the series with other families that also grew through adoption.
The story I am sharing with you today is actually tied in with my family’s adoption journey. It’s about my sister and brother in law, Becky and David, and how they grew their family in three unique ways. I’ve been looking forward to sharing with you their amazing family adventure!
How it all Started
Becky and David were first introduced to the foster care system when we adopted Keith. They learned what exactly it was and how many children were affected by it. David’s brother, Larry, had also adopted his stepson when he was a young child.
Both of them agreed early on that they wanted to have a mixture of biological and adopted children in their family. They had originally planned to have a child by birth first, and then adopt. But according to Becky, “the Lord had other plans.”
One day on her lunch break, Becky was talking to her friend Kathleen. Kathleen had recently come off of family leave after receiving a foster daughter that she was hoping to adopt. She had just learned about a half-sister of the little girl that was also in foster care. Her name was Sierra, and she had been brought by Kathleen’s house for a sibling visit. She was upset and worried about where Sierra would end up living.
The rest of the day, Becky couldn’t stop thinking about Sierra. That night, while on a flight to visit friends, Becky filled David in on what she had learned and how Sierra’s story had tugged at her heart. They decided to find out as much information as they could about fostering to adopt so they could become certified to take in Sierra. Needless to say, their birth/adoption family plan was going to change!
Finalizing the Adoption and a New Baby!
It took about a year to make Sierra’s adoption final, in June 2010. After adopting Sierra, Becky gave birth to Stella in April 2011. With an adopted, teenage daughter and a birth daughter, the Thielen family had quickly doubled.
Finding Another Daughter
In the spring of 2016, Becky and David learned that Sierra’s biological half-sister, McKenzie, was also available for adoption. Since Sierra was already their daughter, McKenzie was considered to be a family placement when she came to live with them.
Because it was a family placement, the courts seemed to lower their adoption priority list, so McKenzie’s adoption took three years! According to Becky, the time it takes to go through the adoption process is one of the more difficult parts to deal with. The “process of termination of parental rights or signing an open adoption agreement and then going through all the steps of redaction, etc.” is definitely a lengthy process.
Financial Costs of Fostering and Family Adoption
The Thielens chose foster to adopt and family placement, both of which are more economical forms of adoption. With her company discounted legal and reimbursement benefits, their out of pocket cost was around $500. They also received a monthly stipend while Sierra was a foster child, which helped with dressing her while she went through some HUGE growth spurts!
As far as the challenges adoptive families face, the Thielens express that there is no handbook and no real way to prepare for the many situations that may come up. Having a child placed in your home that will have to adapt to a new family, new rules, a new school, will cause you to deal with situations you’ve never considered and are not prepared for. Using patience and asking for help, are necessary when dealing with these unforeseen challenges.
The Rewards Make it all Worthwhile
When I asked Becky about the most rewarding part of their adoptions, she quickly responded, “I love my family! We are a family through and through. We may not have taken the traditional route, but we have two adoptive daughters and one biological daughter that have completed our family unit! These kids teach us just as much as we teach them.” She also feels that her adopted daughters are survivors, and because of the hardships they’ve dealt with, they will make a difference in the world.
While going through the adoption process, Becky and David found themselves growing as Christians and as human beings. Their youngest, Stella, who is their only child by birth, is growing up learning about the challenges other people face. Because of this, she is growing up as an empathetic young person who wants to help others. All 3 of the Thielen girls have said that they want to foster to adopt when they grow their own families. Their family story continues to inspire others to consider adoption!
Words of Wisdom
Lastly, I asked Becky for any advice she could give prospective adoptive families, and this is what she said:
“Be brave, ask for help, go to the training, and embrace the challenge. I would recommend looking for your village & community that is in it with you… others that have adopted or fostered, other parents, church groups, etc. Fostering does have an opportunity to have reunification with the birth family. This adds to some fears and anxiety around bonding with a child to have that child removed and go back to the parents, etc. Know this, but if you chose to go this path you have to go all in.”
I couldn’t say it any better myself! If you would like more information about adoption through foster care, please click the link below:
Until next time,