Tyson Zahner Presents Heartwarming Adoption Stories

Adoption is an act of love and selflessness, but the reward is so much more. We realize not everyone is able to adopt, but becoming a foster parent or even helping your local foster community is a commendable. To be blessed with child, no matter how you became that child’s parent, is a gift. We want to share with you amazing stories of ordinary people who opened their hearts to become a parent to a child in need.


Watsons Adopt Four Teen Siblings

Phyllis and Eric Watson wanted to be parents but were unable to have children of their own. While attending a church conference, they learned of the thousands of children throughout Kansas who were in need of a loving home. The Watsons admirably committed to being part of the solution and decided to become foster parents.

The same day their license to foster was approved, a Child Services worker called the Watsons and said that four siblings had entered foster care. The Watsons were the only foster home in the entire state with the available space to care for them without separating them. The Watson’s knew they had to keep them together. After some time, the Watsons decided to adopt the four siblings. “I would do anything for them, and I know they would do anything for us”, said Phyllis Watson.

The Kemper House is Always Full

The Kemper family always knew they wanted to adopt children. They have embarked on a lifelong adventure of fostering and adopting children, in addition to having three of their own children. With children starting to leave the nest, the Kempers started looking at adoption again. They wanted to make an effort to focus on siblings who were at risk of separation.

In 2014, they hit the jackpot and were able to keep 2 boys and 3 girls together under their roof. Kemper said, “We chose adoption in part, not because our family was incomplete but because theirs was and we could change that.”

The Shipley Family Adopt

When the Shipleys were planning their family, they had hoped to have two children of their own and two adopted children. After some fertility trouble and delays – the Shipleys began to be drawn to adopting an older child. They came across 12 year old Shirell’s profile and felt an instant connection.

Shirell moved in soon after and was adopted by the Shipleys a little less than a year later. Describing their experience, Shipley said, “We have worked hard to become the family we are and feel joyful for all the happy memories we have created thus far.”

The Longos Adopt Teenagers

14 year old Matthew was at risk of aging out of the foster care system before being adopted. Bob Longo has raised 5 other adopted sons and was ready to add Matthew to his family. Longo was able to get a home study. After a long wait full of anticipation, he was able bring Matt home. Together they’ve been to the Oregon coast and Las Vegas.

Big Happy Ness Family

Scott and Amy Ness had three biological children but they knew they wanted to grow their family through adoption. They adopted 11 children and they created a big happy family with their 14 kids. When adopting, the Ness family aimed to keep siblings together. They adopted nine of them through the foster care system and the other two were half-sisters who were adopted privately.

Amy Ness worked hard to give all of her children equal attention. She was worried that one would feel that they weren’t a favorite and be unhappy. So it was one of her proudest moments when her children told her that they all thought they were her favorite. It was not easy raising three different groups of children: their biological children, nine related biological siblings, and two half-sisters. But now instead of groups, they are one big coherent family. “It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.” Amy Ness said.

Teacher, Ms. Berry, Adopts Student

On Adoption Day in 2017, many foster kids and foster parents lined up to be joined as families at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Among these foster kids was 16-year-old Anthony who was being adopted by his English Teacher Bennie Berry.

Anthony could not hide his excitement as he celebrated with his new mom and the other families. Before Anthony met Bennie, he didn’t think adoption would ever happen for him – and that he had actually not even considered it. However, Anthony could not wait to be Bennie’s son when he met her. “I told moms, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep.’ She was like, ‘I don’t think I am, either.’” Anthony said on the Adoption Day.

The Iveys Wait For A Family

Jamie Ivey and her husband Aaron lived in Nashville, Tennessee. Their interest in adoption sparked when they realized that a lot of families in their church were adopting children from China. They already had a seven month old baby but they felt compelled to grow their family through adoption. They went to an adoption center not knowing what to expect.

They found out that they did not qualify to adopt from many countries. However, they got the chance to adopt an African-American boy who was born in Texas. Next, Ivey visited Haiti and the trip convinced her and her husband to adopt their next child from Haiti. When it was time to add another member to the family, they adopted from Haiti once again.

The waiting period was a grueling one but it was worth it. “January 23, 2010, was one the best days of my life – our family was complete and all under one roof.” Jamie Ivey.

Garlinghouse Family Filled With Joy

Rachel Garlinghouse had been married for three years. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, making it risky for her to have children. Thanks to adoption, she and partner Steve have four children.

Rachel and her partner realized that there is no standard timeline for a complete adoption process. They waited for 14 months for their first child, a day for the second child, four months for the third, and then four and half months for the fourth child.

The couple tried both semi-open and open adoptions while adopting their four children. Rachel noted that the adoption process was bittersweet, challenging, and difficult. But more importantly, she noted that the process is beautiful, wonderful, and filled with joy as well.

The Caspers Receive The Greatest Gift

Lauren Casper and her husband looked into adoption after years of infertility and two difficult miscarriages. Although Lauren only considered adoption because of the infertility issues, she says that she’s now thankful it took her down this path. According to Lauren, her greatest gifts are her two adopted children, Mareto and Arsema.

Lauren and her husband started out as foster parents. Once their foster children left, they decided to pursue adoption. They first considered domestic adoption, but Lauren wasn’t satisfied with the agencies she reached out to. That’s when they decided to consider international adoption – but they were limited due to either income or age.

They finally were able to adopt their two children from Ethiopia. Lauren noted spending time away from her children after meeting them for the first time was particularly difficult. On this, she said, “There is a helplessness that comes with the adoption process and we simply had to relinquish control and trust that every step and every minute of the wait would be worth it. And it was.”

The Hollis Family is Blessed

Rachel Hollis and her husband had three children but they wanted more. Although they knew the road would be long, they were eager to start the adoption process. At first, they started the international adoption process for a child in Ethiopia, but Ethiopia soon after closed down adoption with the United States.

This drained Rachel emotionally but she did not give up. They next tried to adopt locally but it turned out that they could only adopt through LA County if they do foster care first. They pursued foster care with the hope of adoption, but the twins they had begun to foster ended up transitioning back.

Rachel and her husband weren’t ready to give up and tried for private adoption, which is when parent work with an individual birth mother instead of an adoption agency to acquire an adoptive child. Rachel was matched with Noah, and she was born a short three months later. “What a miracle. What a blessing. Welcome home little girl, welcome home.” Rachel Hollis said in Noah’s birth story.

O’Brien Cracks the Code

Many stories surrounding fostering and getting licensed revolve around the arduous waiting period for placement. Ariele O’Brien however, only had to wait for four hours before fostering two year-old twins. The twins were on an emergency placement list, since they had been moved from home to home four times in one month. Luckily for them, Ariele would be their last placement. At first she had challenges communicating with the twins, since she was told that they were partially or completely deaf. Soon, she realized that they weren’t deaf, but that they had simply refused to respond to adults and would throw tantrums instead of communicating. Once Ariele cracked this mystery, she was able to communicate, support, and help the twins grow. In telling her story, she says, “I hope this sneak-peek into our experience helps others realize that, while there are challenges to fostering, the joy of adoption far outweighs them all!”

Hawthorns Christmas Miracle

In 2016, Michael and Terri Hawthorn decided to foster 8 year old twins, Lacey and Layna. The Hawthorns expected the journey of love and bonding to take time, and they were ready to be patient. But, they were surprised when by the second day, the girls were already calling them Mom and Dad, and a few days later saying “I love you”. The Hawthorns hearts immediately melted – they knew they couldn’t ever give these girls up. As time went on, they decided to adopt the twins other five siblings. Although they say it can get cramped at home – they wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Zezulkas Heartwarming Moment

Paige Zezulka posted a heartwarming video on Facebook of her and her husband sharing the news to their foster daughter that they’ll be adopting her. Even more –Zezulka and her husband will also adopt her brother and sister. They found out on her birthday that they had been approved, and decided what better gift than the news of a loving and stable home. The little girl opened the box that had a frame. She read it and said, “I’m going to be adopted?” and began crying with joy. The parents hugged her and said, “We’ll always be here for you”. Zezulka hopes that the video inspires others to adopt, and especially to adopt older children and groups of siblings.

Francis Adopts While in College

It’s common to hear that most foster parents are married, or have had children of their own in the past. Gina Francis is, remarkably, neither of those things. On fostering, she said, “I was still in college when I decided to become a foster parent, and I had never been a parent before. I was young but determined.”  She knew she couldn’t adopt, so she prepared to take in children on a short-term basis. She agreed to foster a four year old girl, but she was told later that she also had a two year old brother. Although she wasn’t expecting it, she decided she could make it work. Francis worked to keep the biological family in the loop. The children’s grandmother pleaded Francis to keep the children, saying that she had never seen them so happy. Again, Francis was optimistic that she could figure out a way to keep them. Francis adopted the siblings in 2011, and she says they are, “well-adjusted, smart, kind, and creative children”.

Tara Adopted at Birth

Many families who adopt children as infants dread the day they need to explain that they’re adopted. Tara’s story goes to show that perhaps knowing early is better. She was taken in as a baby, and can’t remember a time she didn’t know she was adopted. Reflecting on her childhood, she said, “I never thought I was different, but I did think it was special. We actually celebrated the days we were officially adopted by getting to choose a cake. We were always encouraged to ask any questions we had, and our parents would tell us all they knew.” Tara explains that this experience helped her better understand and appreciate the decision her birth mother made. She thanks her birth mother by saying, “My birth mother’s courageous and selfless act has taught me the value of life, and the power that one decision can make.”

A Birth Mother’s Unselfish Act of Love

When this adoptee found out that they were adopted, they said they had an unusual reaction. Naturally, many children are shocked, confused, and feel insecure in their identity. However, this adoptee said, “I also had total peace that I was where I was supposed to be.” She felt only love and appreciation for her birth mother, because she placed her with a family that gave her everything she could have ever wanted. This adoptee is grateful her mother brought her to term, even if only to put her up for adoption. She strongly believes that, “placing your child for adoption is the most unselfish and loving act a woman can do.”

Cathy & Ray’s Dream Fulfilled

When Cathy and Ray thought their adoption situation was too good to be true, it turns out that it wasn’t. There was no past health issues, no history of drug addiction, and no complex birth family situations. Simply put, it was the ideal situation. The birth mother and birth father were a local, healthy couple who just wanted a nurturing family to adopt their child. Cathy and Ray started their adoption journey due to infertility reasons and ended up choosing American Adoptions because of their insurance policy and the number of placements available. From the start, working with American Adoptions has been a positive experience. They worked closely with their adoption specialist to fill out the Adoption Planning Questionnaire, and ended up getting a match only a few weeks after going active. The birth parents ended up living in the same state as Cathy and Ray. After speaking to them on the phone, there was an immediate connection. Both couples ended up going out to dinner and, although the birth couple was in their late teens and Cathy and Ray were in their thirties, they already felt like friends. When the baby was born, even the nurse was surprised by the sheer amount of love and care in the delivery room. The goodbyes were bittersweet, although the adoption was open, so it was really a ‘see you later’. Cathy says that she was spoiled by her first adoption experience and she is happy that her family has such an open relationship with the baby’s birth family.

Thomas & Mikaela Adopt Siblings

Thomas and Mikaela were finally able to find a permanent home with adoptive parents Alfred and Elizabeth. Despite a long journey, and a history of abuse and neglect, six-year-old Mikaela and three-year-old Thomas can now enjoy the ordinary delights of being children. Mikael loves playing with Hello Kitty, and Thomas enjoys building a train track and learning new words. Their adoptions were finalized on Mother’s Day, and they even chose new names as a celebration of their new start.

Mullen Becomes a Parent

When Jeremy Mullen met five-year-old Marshall, he knew that he wanted to be his dad. Marshall was neglected and abused as a young child and, as a result, developed aggressive coping mechanisms. Helping Hand Home supported Marshall through weekly therapy, and slowly, he learned how to express himself in healthier ways. Jeremy was a volunteer with HHH who had always dreamed of being a parent. Jeremy dedicated six months to prepare for the adoption — always with the constant support and training from HHH staff members. Despite Marshall’s difficulty communicating, he had the same dreams and capacity to love as any other child. Jeremy saw the beauty in Marshall. He was impressed with the resiliency of all children who go through trauma. He learned invaluable skills to support Marshall from the staff at HHH. Now, Jeremy and Marshall can grow together as a real family.

A Happy Healthy Home For Charlie, Cynthia, & Carter

Charlie, Cynthia, and Carter had the childhood no parent wants any child to experience. Their parents had a history of drug addiction, and physical and health issues also ran in their family. They were placed in foster care and, due to their childhood trauma, all children were far behind their peers academically. However, a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter was able to place the children in a loving home. Since the placement, all children are enjoying happy, healthy home life and almost all of their academic issues have since disappeared.

Vicki & Adrian’s Roller Coaster Ride to Parents

Although parenthood is a dream for many people, for some, it is a long journey of patience and a whole lot of faith. Adrian and Vicki were unable to conceive their first child and finally decided to adopt rather than use an egg donor. Both Adrian and Vicki worked with American Adoptions to set a budget and other parameters. Then, all there was to do was wait. Although American Adoption counselors were always a phone call away to assist with the emotional turmoil, Adrian and Vicki went on a “roller coaster ride” of emotions. They ended up waiting two years for their time to come. There were times that they came across cases that weren’t in their profile and had to remain steadfast and strong, believing that the right match would finally come along. And one day they got the call. Both Adrian and Vicki were going about their daily lives, at work, getting out of meetings — when finally, the right match happened. Now, two-year-old Graham is an empathetic “ball of fire,” who loves his adoptive parents and affectionately refers to his birth mother as his “tummy mommy.” The wait was long, but Adrian and Vicki are grateful for the journey and feel only happiness for the blessings they’ve received.

Do you know a family who should be recognized for their selfless act of Adoption? Are you that family? Tyson Zahner wants to celebrate adoption. Please contact us [email protected] to share your stories.


Ben, Brandy & One Happy Baby

Ben and Brandy were only 25 and 26 years old when they decided to adopt but, they were confident. Brandy was born without a uterus and, her and Ben knew adoption was their chance to be parents. American Adoptions helped Ben and Brandy through the process of filling out their Adoption Planning Questionnaire, to have the best chances of being picked by a birth mother. Initially, Ben and Brandy had fairly limiting APQ requirements: Caucasian-only baby, lower than average budget, and a semi-open adoption. However, when a birth mother contacted them who didn’t know the identity of the father, they became more flexible with the racial aspect of their APQ. Brandy and the birth mother got along from the first phone conversation they had. When the birth mother asked for more an open adoption, Brandy and Ben decided to be more flexible with that aspect of the adoption, as well.

Brandy and Ben flew to meet the birth mother before her induction. As a result, they were able to meet the birth mother’s friends and family — a bittersweet experience to preface the birth. When Charlotte was born, the birth mother wanted Brandy in the room. As soon as Charlotte appeared Brandy knew that she was seeing her daughter for the first time. Ben came into the room, and his face lit up, instantly. As Brandy and Ben were getting ready to take Charlotte home, they watched Charlotte’s birth family each hug her and say goodbye. Although the experience was emotional, they were grateful for the relationship they had built over such a short span of time with Charlotte’s birth family. Now, Charlotte is a happy baby living with their adoring adoptive parents. Ben and Brandy will always be grateful for their Americans Adoptions specialist, Laura, who helped them through a year-long, stressful process of finding Charlotte. In the end, it was worth the wait.

Brad and Chermaine Take a Chance

Sometimes, when the opportunity presents itself, you take it. Brad and Chermaine didn’t have a crib, nursery, or diapers, when they decided to adopt their new baby, Layla. They had finished filling out the adoption questionnaire, were ready to be adoptive parents, but nervous and not expecting the pop-up adoption whirlwind ahead. As soon as the American Adoption specialist called to accept their final adoption fee, the specialist offered them the chance to adopt a baby girl. The baby girl had already been born. Although the time frame was short, Brad and Chermaine decided there was never going to be a perfect time to chase after their dream of being parents. Chemaine resigned from her job, and both flew from Washington, DC to Houston, TX, to meet their daughter. Two years later, Laya is a happy and healthy toddler with two happy and grateful, adoptive parents who took a chance and never looked back.

Melissa Gives Back

Melissa is a former foster child and understands the importance of a loving, stable home. Now, as adults, Melissa and her husband, Colin, are foster parents and try to provide that support to other foster children. Now, they can provide love, stability and constant care to the children they officially adopted: Sabrina and Ty.  

The Polaco’s Welcome Three Children

Seventeen children were lucky enough to fall into the loving arms of Mark and Anna Polaco. The Polacos prove that you can make your own family. All of the children the Polacos fostered, have a history of trauma, challenging behavior, and special needs. The Polacos have made sure that every foster child who came through their doors was loved and wanted — a special gift for many foster children. On March 24, 2017, Mark and Anna Polaco became the proud parents of three special children who graced their doors, Caleb, Faith, and, Grace. These selfless parents are proud and happy to welcome three children into their forever home.

The Lansing’s Bubbly Girls

Unfortunately, some children grow up much too fast. Bethany was a child who was never truly allowed a childhood. Bethany was only eight when she entered foster care. Feeling abandoned and alone, Bethany quickly learned that she could only count on herself. She moved into a Helping Hand Home treatment center, where she learned healthier coping mechanisms and slowly learned how to trust adults again. However, there was always something missing. Bethany and Scott Lansing have experience with children with higher needs. They had adopted three other daughters out of foster care and, they are committed to providing a stable living environment for their children. They met Bethany when she was 11 years old and welcomed her into their family. They have a house full of bubbly, happy girls and Bethany has been able to find her voice again. Instead of a timid girl who is afraid of making eye-contact, Bethany chatters away confidently. Since entering the Lansing family, Bethany has the opportunity to be a kid again. She even spent her twelfth birthday on a cruise with her family. The lonely girl who entered foster care four years ago is no longer alone.

Lisa Gives Love & Care

Looking at Glenis now, you might have a hard time imagining what she’s been through. Glenis is a happy, overachieving eight-year-old who loves folk dancing and traveling. However, Glenis’ early life was filled with neglect and severe abuse in an impoverished home in Texas. She was removed from her home at two years old and slowly healed from her traumatic past with the help of Helping Hand Home’s behavior modification techniques. She was placed with a foster mom, Lisa, who worked as a university professor and publishing executive. Through Lisa’s love and care, Glenis slowly came out of her shell. When Glenis first arrived at Lisa’s house, she was too emotionally traumatized to be in any room of the house alone. However, Lisa put all the love and energy she could into her relationship with Glenis. Glenis goes to a college preparatory school and is realizing her full potential. She also runs through every room in the house.

Kurt’s House Full of Kids

For Shelley and Cory Kurtz, kids were always on their mind. From their baby proof house to their family sized car, Shelley and Cory knew they wanted to be parents. Like many adoptive parents, the baby part wasn’t as easy as baby proofing the bathroom. They waited years but, after a point, realized that they would have to look into alternate options if they wanted a family. After deliberation, they decided to move forward with a waiting child adoption. They decided to adopt siblings to make their dream family an instant reality. They became the parents of three beautiful siblings and are so grateful for each unique child. Each day they look at their children and can’t believe how lucky they got to have a family to call their own.

Finally a Home for Denise

Fourteen-year-old Denise had been in an out of foster care for almost a decade. Understandably, continually moving and never having a true home was difficult for Denise. Placements wrote her off as a child with ‘challenging behavior.’ However, Reggie and Crystal saw Denise for who she was: a child who just wanted a stable, loving home. Reggie and Crystal were starting the process of becoming adoptive parents when they heard Denise’s story in a pre-service training in 2015. Helping Hand Home caregivers helped support Denise’s journey to wellness by providing weekly therapy appointments and other trauma-based services. Reggie and Crystal immediately knew that they wanted to provide the last element to Denise’s story, a family. Now, Denise is not just surviving; she’s thriving. She excels academically and is the star player on both her basketball and volleyball team. Her new family gave her a new beginning.

Jenn, Keith, & Angelica Stay Forever Bonded

Sometimes it’s just meant to be — even when it doesn’t seem possible on paper. Jenn and Keith were worried they would never become active with American Adoptions. Keith uses a wheelchair due to a car accident, and their eight-year-old son has severe disabilities. However, when birth mother, Angelica, found Jenn and Keith, she saw the family for their positivity, love and, ability to support each other, no matter the hardship. Jenn, Keith, and Angelica soon became so close, that Angelica wanted them at the birth. At the hospital, American Adoptions specialist supported the adoptive family and birth mother through the emotional experience. When baby Kailyn came into the world, the bonds between adoptive family and birth mother were so strong; they found it difficult to say goodbye. Jenn, Keith, and Angelica stayed connected after Kailyn’s birth. Jenn and Keith even send Angelica one photo per day to Angelica to help her through the grieving process. They all agreed to keep the adoption open and are grateful for what the experience has given them.

Blaine’s Happy Childhood

Blaine’s birth mother was 17 when he was born. Because his mother was Catholic, he was adopted by a Catholic family. Luckily, his family also adopted his sister a year later. Four years later the family grew again, this time with biological children – two sons and a daughter. Blaine always knew he was adopted, and when he was old enough, he began searching for his birth mother. Blaine pieced together the little information he had to find his biological grandparents. Eventually, Blaine was able to meet his birth mother. He was excited to share with her that he had had a happy childhood, and his birth mother was relieved that he had been placed into a good home. Blaine’s adoptive mother said that she is forever thankful that his birth mother chose adoption for him.

A Gift of Family For Jenna & AJ

Since Jenna and AJ’s first date, they knew they would adopt. Jenna had an intimate relationship with adoption. Not only was she and adoptee, but some of her siblings were adopted, as well. Since they were a multicultural family already, they were confident in their decision to adopt any baby, no matter what race. They found American Adoptions on Facebook and were immediately impressed by the responsiveness of the Adoption specialists. Adoption can be an intimidating process but, the adoption specialists held Jenna and AJ’s hand throughout; Jenna and AJ immediately felt at ease. The couple was incredibly flexible in the Adoption Planning Questionnaire and were pleased when they received a call just a week after they became active. Part of their APQ flexibility was their willingness to have an open adoption. And as it turned out, their bond with the birth mother was one of the most meaningful experiences of the adoption process. Jenna and AJ both attended the ultrasound. Everyone was overjoyed when baby Bennett was born. Because of the strong connection Jenna and AJ had with Bennett’s birth mother, they stayed in her room for a significant portion of the hospital stay to support her. They will always honor the choice that Bennett’s birth mother made to give them such a wonderful gift. AJ sends her photos of Bennett, and the family plans to make trips to visit Bennett’s birth mother yearly.

Kristen & Kirk Were Hopeful

Kristen and Kirk could have never known the journey the adoption process would take them down. But, at the end of the road, their reward was such a blessing. Although Kristen and Kirk were chosen by birth mothers twice, there were adoption disruptions in both cases. By far the hardest was the second, during which Kristen and Kirk flew to New Orleans, stayed with the birth mother for two days and bonded with both birth mother and baby before the birth father refused to sign the contract. Although, it was an emotionally heart-wrenching experience, they tried not to lose hope. Thankfully, they had their American Adoptions specialist to support them through the entire experience. Their specialist reassured them that American Adoptions had never failed to place a baby with an adoptive family — all of their waiting finally off. Exactly a year after their heartbreaking experience, on Mother’s Day, they received what they had been waiting for; they adopted their wonderful son, Ben. Kristen and Kirk adopted another son a couple of years later, in a situation that, again, demanded extreme flexibility. Kristen and Kirk adopted their son Timothy in a pop-up adoption. Although their story is not an average adoption story, it brought them their two sons. They have genuine care toward all the women they met along their journey. Kristen, Kirk, Benjamin, and Timothy are a family now and love each other.

Maria & Lyndsey’s Blended Family

Lyndsey and Marie have had to navigate two more complex adoption situations: transracial and adoption as a same sex couple. The latter, was the reason why they chose their first adoption agency, although now, they believe the agency was less than ethical. Although the first agency specialized in same-sex adoptions, their daughter’s birth mother didn’t have access to counseling services or a social worker. They switched to American Adoptions with their second daughter and were pleasantly surprised with the level of care that the specialists took with their case and the options they had. Lyndsey and Marie have very open relationships with both birth mothers of their daughters. One of the birth mothers wants her daughter to call her ‘Mommy A,’ which can be hard to hear. However, Lyndsey and Marie are incredibly proactive about providing care and support both for their adoptive daughters and for themselves. They joined adoption support groups and are learning how to, someday, talk to their adoptive children about their adoption and answer questions. Lyndsey and Marie have also had to navigate ways they can support their daughter’s racial identity. Lyndsey is white, and Marie is Filipino, both have worked hard to unpack their racial identity. Lyndsey and Marie are committed to learning as they go and being the ultimate support system for their two daughters within a happy, blended family.

Marc & Krystal Adopt Everly

Krystal and Marc love children but, with three children already, were worried that they wouldn’t be able to adopt. Despite their fears, they contacted American Adoptions and were accepted into the agency. American Adoptions specialists helped Krystal and Marc along their journey and, five months later, they received the call they were hoping for: a birth mother picked their profile. Optimistic and excited, Krystal and Marc started to prepare to introduce a new member of their family. But at the last minute, their worst fear happened, and the mother changed her mind. Although the experience was painful, they understood that the mother couldn’t let her baby go, and both were grateful for the constant support of the American Adoption specialists. Despite everything, Krystal and Marc’s relationship became even stronger through the experience, and they were resolute in their decision to adopt. Finally, after another five months of waiting, they got a call that would change their lives forever. Krystal and Marc frantically looked for flights thousands of miles away, to Houston, and the morning after the call, they met their new baby, Everly. Krystal held Everly, tears streaming down her face, and knew why it hadn’t worked out before — everything was leading to Everly. She was their baby girl.

Bethany & Marcus Create a Family

Marcus and Bethany were a military family based in Germany when they first adopted their newborn baby from Texas. The adoption was a transracial adoption — Marcus and Bethany are white and newborn, Selah is Black. Marcus and Bethany were pretty open about their Adoption Planning Questionnaire and were happy when they were able to bring home their adoptive daughter a month after they became active with American Adoptions. When they returned home, they thought, again about adopting a child. They were surprised when Selah’s birth mother became pregnant again and hoped they would adopt Selah’s biological sister. Although Marcus and Bethany could never have expected this rare twist of fate, the answer was always yes, and they brought home Selah’s biological sister, Amayah. Working with Selah and Amayah’s birth mother has always been an incredibly smooth and laid back process. However, being the adoptive parents of two transracially adoptive daughters has its challenges. Marcus and Bethany have learned as parents and as people about the racial challenges their daughters will go through and strive to support them as best, they can. Instead of going through the world “colorblind,” they recognize and celebrate the differences in their multicultural family.

Jaime & Michael Bring Home Isaac

It takes a village of support when it comes to the adoption process. This was certainly true for adoptive parents, Jaime and Michael when they adopted their beautiful son, Isaac. After waiting patiently for six years to become active with American Adoptions, they had their first conversation with the birth family of their future son while the birth mother was literally in labor. Additionally, the birth mother, birth father, and his legal wife were all co-involved in the adoption process. Due to the fast nature of the process, and the many heads involved, there was miscommunication about the adoption contract and miscommunication with hospital staff. However, with help from their American Adoption specialist, Jaime and Michael were able to come to agreements with Isaac’s birth family that supported the needs of everyone. Jaime and Michael credit the ongoing support of American Adoptions (they have their American Adoptions social worker on speed dial) for a happy ending with their newborn and good relationship with his birth family. When Isaac is age-appropriate, he will know all about his birth family. Jaime and Michael are also committed to sending updates to Isaac’s birth family. The adoptive parents say the experience was 110 percent worth it and Isaac lights up their lives “with a smile and a laugh.”

The Kaylor family’s Journey to Adoption

When Anne Kaylor decided to adopt, she knew that she wanted a diverse and multicultural household. When they partnered with an agency that specializes in transracial adoption, she learned that there were many children of different races who were waiting for homes. Anne ended up adopting three children, who have been the light of her life ever since. Although Anne considered adoption with Child Protective Services, she was afraid to separate from a child after bonding with them.  However, when Anne started to look into adopting a fourth child, she reconsidered CPS. Helping Hand Home has a foster-to-adopt program that supports parents interested in adopting children with CPS. HHH provided training for Anne to be better equipped on how to support a child with a history of trauma. They also helped Anne navigate a sometimes intimidating process; thanks to HHH, Anne’s family experienced a reasonably smooth transition into the foster system process. Anne became a better parent through the intentional care HHH put into the training, and now the Kaylor family is a family of seven!

Bisbys Were Ready for Love

Jordan and Lindsay Bisby were committed from the start to provide the best support and care for children in foster care with higher needs. They completed a 40-hour program with Helping Hand Home’s Families First Program, to learn tools to help children who’ve dealt with childhood trauma. Now, they are the proud parents of two children, Cassie, and Devon, who’ve found a loving family who can support them.

All & Jan Find Joy in Adoption

Retirees, Al and Jan, still wanted a child after raising their children. They had raised eight daughters but still had a lot of love to give. They hoped an agency would accept their application as potential adoptive parents; however, they were worried that their age might prevent them from becoming adoptive parents. The retirees jumped through many hoops in the hope of becoming adoptive parents: finger stamps, interviews, home studies, FBI clearances, phone calls, questions, and paperwork. Finally, their prayers were answered in 2009 when they were approved to adopt their teenage daughter. They describe their daughter as a “funny, loveable gem.” Being in a stable, loving home has already positively affected their adoptive daughter. Before coming to live with Al and Jan, she was getting Ds and Fs in class. Now, she is passing with As and Bs. Their daughter adds a sense of purpose to their lives and, they wouldn’t change their journey for the world.

Miguel & Antonio Find Love & Family

Brothers Miguel and Antonio were unlucky kids. They were placed in foster care due to abuse and neglect and continued to bounce around from foster family to group home. They were always fighting among each other. Although all they had were each other, social workers considered separating them due to their unruly behavior. However, the unlucky boys had a lucky moment: a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter saw their potential. He worked to help the brothers find a permanent home. He matched them with Carlos, who started to develop a relationship with brothers and the effect was drastic. The brothers stopped fighting, and they learned the importance of family. After so much pain and frustration, they found love in each other.

Ann & Ty Learn Together

When Ty and Ann decided they wanted to adopt children, they were open to any race or ethnicity — they were just excited to bring a child into a loving, nurturing home. They are currently the parents of two African American children, Kai and Avery. Although the journey hasn’t always been easy, Ty and Ann have always been committed to providing Kai and Avery with an upbringing that honors their identity. Ty and Ann took a class for prospective transracial adoptive parents, to prepare with resource to support their adoptive children. Ty and Ann also moved to a more diverse area, joined a Black church, and regularly go to places where their children can see people who look like them. Ty and Ann have also taken steps to learn more about their children’s hair. While Kai just needed to go to the barber, Ann and Ty learned how to manage and style Avery’s hair. Both Ann and Ty say that every day they are learning and growing to be the best support systems for their two children.

Jaime Wonders What Might Have Been

Jaime grew up knowing she was adopted. She was not ashamed and didn’t think much of the fact. If someone didn’t want her, that was their problem. She grew up with loving, adoptive parents who provided the best for her. Jaime knew her birth mother died in a car crash when she was just a baby, but she didn’t know much about her birth family. When Jaime’s older biological sister asked to contact her when Jaime was a teenager, Jaime wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until her biological sister contacted her through Facebook a few years after college that she let her birth sister in her life. She started to realize the magnitude of difference that adoption had on her life. Jaime’s sister was living in a small Vermont town that Jaime very well may have lived. Her sister had been fired from jobs. Her sister drank too much. Her sister felt trapped. Jaime learned from her case file that her birth mother wanted to give her a better life. Her birth mother wrote, in scraggly handwriting, that she wanted to save Jaime from the risk of poverty. However, it was a long journey. From the case file, Jaime caught another glimpse of the life she almost lived. Her birth mother once tried to give Jaime away to a strange couple at a bar. Jaime was put into foster care. However, throughout the trials and tribulations of Jaime’s beginning stages of life, was her adoptive family. They waited patiently, legally trying to gain custody of Jaime. Finally, they succeeded. Because of their patience, Jaime found a safe, nurturing home at last.

Holly Adopts Tween

Maria, a foster child with Helping Hand Home, was at a picnic when she caught Holly’s eye. Holly had recently begun the process of becoming a foster mother. When she saw Maria, she knew that she wanted to provide a loving home to this smiling, laughing thirteen-year-old. Holly had a background as a high school teacher, and she was the perfect match for Maria — or Maria was the perfect match for Holly. Maria went from a shy, timid tween who was barely passing class — to a force of nature. Now, Maria has friends; she plays the trombone, she is on the honor roll, and most importantly, has confidence in herself. Maria is celebrating her first Christmas within her new, unique family and both Maria and Holly are lucky to have each other.