Shannon and Tonya Clark already had 11 children when they met Jeremiah, who was 4 months old.
Tonya’s sister and brother-in-law were acting as Jeremiah’s foster parents, and Tonya and Shannon often had contact with him through them.
“We fell in love at first sight and bonded immediately as well,” Tonya said.
The Clarks were no strangers to adoption.
About 18 years ago, Tonya and her first husband agreed to care for two young family members.
“They needed a place to stay and be taken care of, so I immediately took the chance to help them,” Tonya said.
National Adoption Day adoptions
Later, when a third young family member needed a home, they took custody of her as well. They formally adopted the three children on Nov. 18, 2006, which happened to be National Adoption Day. Those children are now 21, 20 and 15.
Tonya later divorced. She married Shannon in September of 2009.
Two more adoptions
On Nov. 29, 2013 – again on National Adoption Day – she and Shannon adopted two girls.
About four years ago, Jeremiah moved in with Tonya’s sister and brother-in-law, and after spending time with him, Tonya and Shannon knew he had to join their family.
Jeremiah moves in
Jeremiah, now 4, moved in with Tonya and Shannon when he was 11 months old.
“It is hard to explain the bond we have with him. It is like he was a missing part of our family,” Tonya said.
Tonya said Jeremiah’s adoption, which finalized Oct. 21, 2020, was a “roller coaster ride,” with lots of happy and sad tears. Because of those ups and downs, they are grateful that they had a supportive caseworker.
“We are so blessed and grateful for the adoption worker we had, Carly Brown,” Tonya said. “She has been right there along for the ride with us. She always explained what was going on and what to expect, even when it wasn’t what we wanted to hear. We cannot thank her enough.”
Jeremiah, she said, “has brought so much love, joy and laughter to our family.”
For Tonya and Shannon, it’s been rewarding as foster and adoptive parents to help the children through difficult times and – sometimes – to help them reunite with their biological families.
“One of the biggest difficulties is saying goodbye to a child when they leave,” Tonya said. “The other is learning how to work with some of the traumas that these children have had to go through.”
The greatest rewards, Tonya said, are “to be called Mom and Dad, and to know that these children will have a forever family.”