Adoptive Families Can Change the Country's Future
Shaun and Lisa and their two adopted children, Justice, age 10, and DeAndre, age 5, love to be active together, whether they're riding bikes, hiking a trail, or exploring new parks and zoos. Friends often remark how lucky Justice and DeAndre are to have been adopted by Shaun and Lisa; but, as Lisa writes, "We feel the opposite—we are the lucky ones!"
DeAndre was placed into his adoptive family when he was 2. His parents remember the early months: He wouldn't make eye contact or speak, and he wouldn't sit on furniture. DeAndre suffers from epilepsy, and his seizures required multiple hospitalizations throughout his toddler years. He takes medication daily and has been seizure-free for 2 years. His neurologist says this resilient little boy is "a miracle." DeAndre is now in kindergarten, learning and thriving with the help of special education services.
Justice came to live with Lisa, Shaun, and DeAndre at age 9. Lisa and Shaun had planned to adopt Justice's biological older brother, too, but he decided that adoption wasn't for him. Lisa said, "Justice made a very difficult decision. At an age when children can't decide what jeans to wear to school, she decided to continue visiting with us—regardless of what her brother wanted. She wanted a mom, a dad, and a family."
Justice remains close with her biological brother, with whom the family has regular contact. She also enjoys having a younger brother. Lisa said that Justice and DeAndre are as closely bonded as biological siblings. With her parents' help, Justice is learning that it is healthy and normal to feel sad and to grieve the loss of her birth family.
The parents are grateful for the postadoption support they have received. They used the funds they saved from the adoption tax credit to open savings accounts for the children and to take their first family vacation. DeAndre and Justice still talk about that trip nearly every day. Lisa and Shaun were also able to consult with a behavioral specialist through their adoption agency, Child and Family Services, which helped them navigate the challenges of raising children with histories of abuse and neglect.
The family hopes to help raise awareness of the lasting impact adoption has on society at large. Lisa said, "Adoptive families play a role in changing the future of our great country." Although children with histories of abuse and neglect often have difficulties navigating society, Lisa and Shaun know firsthand that these children are resilient, loveable, and deserving of a forever home. As 10-year-old Justice said, "When you get adopted, you feel like you don't have to worry anymore. You will have a mom and dad forever!"
Adapted from Voice for Adoption's Adoptive Family Portrait Project for National Foster Care Month.