From Distant Relatives to New Parents
Four years ago, Ted and Merrily got a phone call asking if they would consider adopting two children, ages 3 and 6, who were distant relatives living in foster care in another State. At first they declined because they were approaching retirement. After thinking more about it, they decided to at least meet the children. One year later they adopted Raven, now age 10, and Seneca, now age 6. Merrily said, "We are so glad they are now our son and daughter." Recently Ted and Merrily celebrated their 50th anniversary, taking pride in reaching such a milestone while still enthusiastically raising young children.
Ted and Merrily encourage Raven and Seneca to participate in their cultural history—both children are from a Native Alaskan Tribe. They keep in touch with relatives as much as possible. Seneca enjoys participating in a Native dancing and singing group. Raven takes violin lessons. Both children play sports and love animals. The family bonds through traveling around the country in their motor home. Merrily describes visits to museums, zoos, and nature, saying she and Ted enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of children again.
For this family, adoption came with challenges. Both children were emotionally delayed due to trauma in their pasts. Since finding their permanent home, Raven and Seneca are seeing an excellent therapist. Merrily said, "We see a great deal of progress; we are glad they were placed at relatively young ages."
Merrily and Ted have been grateful for financial help throughout their adoption process, especially because they are approaching retirement and reduced income. Initially they served as foster parents for the children (a requirement when adopting from a different State), and they used the income from foster care to set the children up with everything they would need for life in their permanent home. They have also been able to visit Merrily and Ted's grown children and introduce them to Seneca and Raven, thanks to the adoption tax credit. Merrily and Ted hope to provide their children the opportunity to go to college when the time comes.
Adapted from Voice for Adoption's Adoptive Family Portrait Project for National Foster Care Month.