We Will Never Be the Same: David and Debbie’s Story
November 1, 2022 – Among the host of things that unite Debbie and David, the most significant may be their lifelong commitment to caring for children; whether theirs through birth or adoption. When they married, Debbie had a daughter, Laurie*, from a previous relationship, and David was quick to love her as his own child. Together they had a son, Nicholas*. However, when her doctor advised against becoming pregnant again, they became more and more aware of the need in their community for families willing to care for youth who, for no fault of their own, were removed from their homes and were unable to reunify with their birth parents. For them, this meant adoption.
Debbie and Dave had a friend of the family who was pregnant, but due to her life circumstances had made the decision to put her daughter, Raven*, up for adoption once he was born. Throughout the process, they developed a close relationship with her, almost acting as surrogate parents to her while she worked through the complex emotions she was experiencing. That relationship served as the inspiration to continue caring for youth by becoming licensed foster parents.
While trying to determine the right timing to become licensed, Debbie and Dave met Shiloh*, a girl in foster care that attended church with them. Instantly, they felt a connection with her, and after meeting with her foster parents and finding out that her end goal was being adopted, they began the licensure process with the hope that they would be able to adopt her. They began working with a Child Placing Agency to initiate that process.
Because their lives already had so much overlap, Debbie and Dave naturally built a relationship with Shiloh, and she slowly established trust with them. They began spending a good amount of time with Shiloh and her foster parents, and a bond began to form. Upon completing their licensure, they started to host trial stays at their home to see if Shiloh would indeed feel comfortable with them and want to be adopted. It was evident that this was the right path forward for everyone.
Now, Shiloh has a younger sister, Hope*, who was also in foster care but was in the process of being adopted by another family. However, due to her elevated behavioral and mental health challenges, the adoption tragically fell through. Debbie and Dave were now presented with the opportunity to adopt Hope as well, keeping the sisters together. This was an unexpected development, but one that they felt called to pursue after meeting with her case management team.
“We looked at each other and said, how could we not?” says Debbie. “This child deserves a chance!”
Debbie and Dave officially adopted Shiloh and Hope, folding them into their already beautiful blended family. But, like any family, this came with messiness. Both children had experienced a significant amount of trauma in their young lives, and that doesn’t go away because they were adopted. This sometimes means having to deal with behavioral challenges and elevated needs that neither Debbie nor Dave had experienced before. However, their love and commitment to their kids meant they were willing to be stretched and reach out for help when needed.
“The point of adoption is that you are committing to a child, says Debbie. “That child needs someone who is going to keep saying yes even when it’s really, really hard.”
“We couldn’t do it without the many people that are around us,” she added” “The girls at our church who fostered her still help out with respite care, and our caseworker and behavioral therapist are amazing. You have to put down your ego to let others speak into your lives.”
Though healing doesn’t occur in a linear fashion or on a predictable timetable, both Shiloh and Hope have made significant strides since their adoption. Shiloh has a lot of personality similarities to David, so he has been able to relate to her in both the strengths and weaknesses they share, including being natural nurturers; having a bent toward caring for others.
“When we talk to her school, they say that she is the most social girl in her class,” David says. “That can come with some challenges, but it’s because she is finally happy!”
Hope continues to struggle with her mental health, but she is resilient and has not given up. And neither have Debbie and David.
“When Hope came into the home, her therapist said she had the lowest self-esteem of any child she had worked with,” says Debbie. “She was in full-on survival mode. But we loved her through it, and we still do. She has made huge strides in school and went from not being able to be in a standard classroom setting to being there almost full-time. She continues to persevere, and continually strong.”
Both Debbie and David share that their time with Shiloh and Hope has changed them in the same way they’ve witnessed the girls’ transformation. Their desire to advocate for the needs of others and their capacity to love and forgive unconditionally have grown substantially. And they have even found some unexpected healing of their own wounds through the process. Despite the hard moments, they readily say that they would do it all over again.
“One thing that people need to realize is that in every kid there’s gold: successfully becoming who they are meant to be,” says Debbie. “It’s just been buried under abuse, rejection, and trauma. It’s very fulfilling to help a child find that gold and begin to walk in their true identity.”
If you want to join Debbie and David in the wild, messy, wonderful world of adoption, please contact us at https://www.adoptkskids.org/about-us/contact to speak to one of our adoption specialists. The challenge is real, but you may be perfectly suited to change a child’s life, and yours, forever!
*Names changed to preserve privacy.