It Takes a Village
This National Adoption Month, we’re sharing stories of children whose lives were impacted by adoption. Meet the Bennetts.
Looking at 13-year-old Brendan Bennett today, it’s hard to picture this healthy, happy child as a sick and frail baby.
When Sarah and Rick Bennett’s caseworker discovered three-month-old Brendan living in a medical home for children on hospice, they were instantly drawn to him. He’d been born prematurely at 28 weeks and struggling with the effects of drug exposure. A registered nurse, Sarah felt that her medical background would make their home a good fit for Brendan.
The adoption was finalized when Brendan was 18 months old. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with a mild case of cerebral palsy. Though Brendan’s health brought challenges for the family, Sarah credits Adopt Kansas Kids in their ability to overcome them.
“Our family service worker was an amazing worker and strong advocate for us,” says Sarah. “She took care of everything from daycare reimbursement to resources for Brendan’s needs. I’m sure she had a full caseload, but it felt like we were her only client.”
Brendan’s little sister, Lauren, was born when he was just 13 months old and came into care at three months. Sarah and Rick took her in without hesitation. An extended relative came forward to gain custody of Lauren, but because she was not interested in Brendan as well, the judge ruled against it. The siblings would need to be kept together, and Sarah and Rick adopted Lauren, too.
With two children, Sarah and Rick found themselves relying on Adopt Kansas Kids’ advocates, resources, and community more than ever. When Brendan got suspended from school, educational advocates assisted them in devising a behavioral plan to make sure his needs were being met.
“We received clothing, attended respite events, got help with medical resources… We would’ve been so alone without Adopt Kansas Kids,” says Sarah. “They are definitely bridging a necessary gap.”
Prior to adopting their kids, Sarah and Rick Bennett had fostered one child, a toddler who was reunified with her mom after a year, and they remain passionate about reunification for kids in the system.
“A child belongs at home with their biological parents,” says Sarah. “If you have the opportunity and it’s safe, partner with the bio parents to be an ally and an advocate for them. You have the power to be such a powerful resource to that family.”
If it isn’t safe, as was the case for Brendan and Lauren’s biological parents, Sarah suggests advocating for your kids and leaning into the resources Adopt Kansas Kids offers.
“They’re there for a reason and this cannot be done alone,” she says. “It takes a whole village to foster or adopt.”
As we celebrate families that have grown through adoption, like the Bennetts, we also continue working to support the more than 500 children in foster care in Kansas who have not yet found forever homes.