The Miracle of 'a Regular Life'
Arthur and Mary, unable to have a child, decided to adopt a baby—but changed their minds when they met 8-year-old Darnell at a Black Adoption Fair. Mary recalled, "His big brown eyes suggested he wanted to be loved, wanted parents he could trust. We bonded with Darnell very quickly." Darnell recalls the day his adoption became finalized. "It was very special because it was my ninth birthday. I remember getting shoes that actually fit for the first time."
The idea to adopt again came from Darnell himself, who wanted a little sister. Arthur and Mary met Sierra and her younger brother Phillip, who had been living together in a group home, at an adoption promotion event. They joined the family at ages 6 and 5. Although Arthur and Mary had intended to adopt just one more child, they understood the importance of sibling bonds. Demonstrating their characteristic flexibility, they adopted both children.
The youngsters bear witness to the progress children make when they feel secure and settled in a loving family. Darnell is a comedian and keeps family and friends entertained. His interests include track, football, acting, texting his friends, reading, video games, and old movies. Quiet and subdued Sierra enjoys hobbies typical of girls her age: tap, ballet, modern, and African dance; bike riding; video games; and playing with friends. When Phillip joined the family, he was unable to hold a pencil or write his name. He quickly mastered age-appropriate skills and blossomed into a bright, fun-loving, charming child. His hobbies include basketball, acting, video games, skateboarding, bike riding, and watching sports with his dad.
Postadoption family counseling provided through UCLA's Ties for Families/Adoptions helped the members of this family blend and bond with each other. In addition, the children attended group therapy and received psychological and intellectual assessments to ensure they received appropriate schooling. Due to her special needs, Sierra receives ongoing counseling and therapy. Arthur and Mary appreciate these postadoption services and also the Federal adoption tax credit, which has enabled them to care for academic and basic family needs.
When asked what adoption has meant to them, Darnell said, "Adoption means I have a second chance at life. I know I am loved and have a safe place to call home. When strangers take you into their home and love you just for who you are, you can relax and live a regular life." Phillip said, "My sister and I have a new family. I love my Mom and Dad." Sierra said, "Now I have two Mommies."
Adapted from Voice for Adoption's Adoptive Family Portrait Project for National Foster Care Month.