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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) November is National Adoption Month. WOTV 4 Women asked West Michigan moms to share their stories about adoption. This is the story of the Goodson family.
Why Adopt an Older Child?
Our boys were 15 and 17 on the day of their adoption hearing. Why did we adopt older children? The reasons are plentiful and some will agree, some will disagree, and some never even thought about it. My husband and I chose, prior to our wedding, to be foster parents. We knew from the beginning of our relationship that our family was going to be expanded through foster care. My husband experienced the death of his mother at a very young age and his aunt and uncle stepped in to care for him; allowing him, essentially, to avoid the foster care system. Because of this, my husband always wanted to provide the same stability, love, and nurturing for a child when they went through a hard time.
At the time, I had worked in the foster care system for many years and was frustrated and saddened by the significant lack of good foster homes, for teenagers especially. We started to talk about adopting children from foster care and began the process before we even said our vows. It was something we knew we wanted to do and we were ready to get started! So many people have asked us and continue to ask, “why teens?” My response, “why not?” Teens deserve a family, they deserve a childhood, they deserve to be supported through the challenging teen years, they deserve to have people cheering loudly for them at their sporting events, and they deserve to have their mom in tears at their high school graduation ceremony. Teens deserve a family as much as an infant does.
So many people have asked us and continue to ask, “why teens?” My response, “why not?”
We felt equipped to parent teens, through our experiences, we had both coached teenagers in basketball and worked with teens in different aspects of our careers, so we decided to look on the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange website. We saw two brothers who had been waiting entirely too long, more than two years, and told our social worker we were interested in more information about them. She eagerly told us they lived in the area and thought they would thrive in our home. We continued the process, got married, and they moved in two months after our wedding.
We have had our share of struggles parenting teenagers that have experienced trauma; but, from what I have been told, all parents have struggles and challenges when they arrive in the teen years. The struggles, in no way, outweigh the rewards. The rewards of seeing them succeed, the rewards of being there for them when they struggle, and the reward of them feeling safe when they “mess up,” is just a start to the list.
A Day in the Life
Children adopted from foster care are so similar to children that are not adopted and live with their biological parents! Sure, they have experienced trauma, and sure this causes them to have difficulty expressing their emotions at times. But our kids are just like the other kids their age!
We start our morning off early. I go down to their room, turn their lights on, greet them with a “good morning,” and tell them it is time to get ready for school. They grunt, roll over, and don’t move. I go back upstairs to continue preparing for my day, and after a few moments I start to hear movement as they get up and begin preparing for their day. As I pack their lunch and clean up the kitchen, they come upstairs and leave for their day at school. After they leave, I wake up our foster daughter and start to get her ready for her day. She does the same exact thing… she grunts, rolls over, and doesn’t move. After a few moments, she gets up and starts to get ready for her day. We pack her backpack, get dressed, make sure her teeth are brushed, and off we go to school. I drop her off at the front of the school, get a kiss on the cheek from her along with an eager, “have a great day,” and I head to work.
After a day at work, I pick our foster daughter up from preschool and go home to be greeted by the boys. We generally have a chat in the kitchen about their day and what went well. Many evenings we have to go our separate ways, to basketball practice or other activities they are involved in.
Many evenings I cook dinner and we eat dinner together, as a family (which many of our former foster children have told me is their favorite part of living at our house). We eat dinner together as a family, talk about our days, and laugh with each other. There is never a shortage of laughter in our home. After dinner, we work on homework, watch some television together, make sure everyone is bathed, and go to sleep. This, I imagine, looks very similar to many other households. Foster families are just like many other families, they just might have an additional uncertainty about who is going to be having dinner at their home from one night to the next.
Another common occurrence in our home is having friends over for dinner. Many evenings, one of our children’s friends will show up at the door, knock, and when I answer they say, “What’s for dinner?” We know that means there may not be a lot of food at home for that child (or maybe I am just that great of a cook!), so we invite them in to join us for dinner. I can’t imagine turning a child away, at our door step, who was hungry and needed a place to sleep that night. When you are a foster and adoptive parent, this means you sign up to be the door step for children. Have you ever considered signing up to be that door step?
Stacey Goodson is a foster and adoptive parent through DA Blodgett-St Johns. Stacey and her husband accept placement of teen boys into their home, and recently, have accepted the challenge of a pre-teen girl. Stacey also works in the child welfare field as a supervisor at a local non-profit agency. Stacey and her husband are passionate that all children deserve a family and the opportunity to experience stability and security.