The Lunsford Family

My name is Blake, and I adopted my kids in June of 2014. Growing up and entering my 20’s, I was very “success” oriented. I was driven and cared very much about going to college, getting a good job, and climbing the corporate ladder. I put everything I had into this goal, and eventually obtained my MBA and a job I loved as a Senior Executive. I relocated every few years since, and as part of my most recent job I relocated to Kansas City. After several years, I began to love the area and decided to buy a house and settle in one place. I hadn’t been in my house very long when I had a strong feeling something was missing.

I let it nag at me for about a year, and then I started looking into foster care. I always knew that when I finally got settled, I wanted to give back to the community and do what I could to help children in need. After researching foster care over a weekend, I kept seeing articles and comments about kids looking for their “forever home.” I never really put much thought into what would happen to a child who could not return to their birth family. Once I stumbled on adoptuskids.org and read through their website, my heart opened up on a whole other level. I found an agency and was quickly enrolled in a TIP-MAPPS class. From there, I started checking off the list of things I had to do to become an adoptive parent.

When it was time to start looking for my kids, I knew immediately that I wanted to look at older kids. Every story or article I read always highlighted how kids over a certain age struggled find adoptive parents. Most people looking to adopt want the little ones, and the older kids often then end up aging out of the system. I also knew I wanted a sibling group of two children. I wanted to be someone who not only created a family, but who provided an opportunity to keep a family together. As I began my journey looking for my sibling group of two, I went through probably a hundred different profiles from kids all over the country. When I looked on Adopt Kansas Kids website, I found a picture of two boys, aged 11 and 13. There was a link to a Wednesday’s Child Segment attached to their story, and after viewing it I sent in a request for more information. I was a bit confused because there were 2 boys showing up for adoption; however, in the news segment there was also an older sister. I sent in an inquiry asking about the discrepancy. Long-story short, the sister had been separated from the boys for several reasons. A big reason was that she wanted to be separated, hoping the boys would have a better chance of getting adopted without her since she was 15 years old. She also thought finding a parent for two children seemed more feasible than finding a parent for three. After getting some background on these kids, I decided to move forward and see if their case workers felt like I was a match. The big question at that time was did I want to submit for the two boys, or would I be willing to take on three children and add their sister back into their lives. They had been living in different foster homes for about two years, as well. After talking to my family and friends, I started converting my basement to a 3rd bedroom and asked to be considered for all three kids. Since I am single, I figured it might be a long shot, but I wanted to try.

Once we got to this point, things really moved pretty quickly. You read different adoptions stories where the parents saw a kid and just knew that was their kid. I used to kind of laugh at that because when I started looking, I felt that way about 50 different kids….until I found my kids. I connected with my three kids before I ever even met them and knew deep down inside that I’d found my babies. I give my daughter a lot of credit for getting our family together. Had she not separated herself from the boys, I probably would have never found them! When I did my searches, I always filtered out any sibling groups over two.

My children moved in with me the week before Halloween two years ago and we’re a bonafide family! Some days are hard and some days are easy, but at the end of every day, I can’t imagine my life without my kids. Nothing I’ve ever done comes close to being as important as the decision I made that day to start this process.

Italia is now 18 years old and went into a credit recovery program at an alternative school. She has now completed enough credits that she is scheduled to graduate on time. When my daughter moved in with me, she hadn’t passed a core class in two years and was not involved in any school activities. She had to retake many classes and struggled with believing in herself where school was concerned. She used to think about when she could drop out and get her GED, now she’s asking me for a class ring and is excited about the idea of being a High School graduate! She’s also in choir, on student counsel, got selected to be on the year book staff, and has volunteered (without any promoting) to do different community service projects through the school. She’s worked a part time job at an assisted living facility for about a year and has made some strong connections with some of the residents at the facility. We’ve had our ups and downs, but success isn’t measured on a good day or a bad day. It’s measured over time, and she’s amazed me at what she’s been able to accomplish in such a short time.

Ed-Rick is now 16 years old and is also in the same school program as his sister. He is on track to graduate on time as well. Ed-Rick is in choir with his sister and has also started taking guitar lessons. Ed-Rick adjusted very quickly to being here. The first day I met him, he ran to my car and told me he was so happy about being adopted. During our first meeting, he asked me if he could call me mom. When I get frustrated at Ed-Rick’s teenage antics, I think back to that day and smile inwardly. That’s a memory I will carry with me all my life.

Xavion is now 13 years old. Xavion likes to be involved in activities. He asked me almost immediately if he could play soccer. He’d always wanted to play soccer but hadn’t really had the chance. He played other sports, but soccer wasn’t one of the options. He’s been playing soccer year round since he moved here. He also plays the trombone in band and joined his school’s jazz band last year. This summer he asked to learn a second instrument and is currently learning the saxophone in hopes to play dual instruments in his band and jazz band classes. I also call Xavion the dog whisperer. I had three dogs when the kids moved in, and they all attached to Xavion quickly.

My life has changed dramatically since my kids came into my life. My house is never clean, the laundry is never done, nothing is ever where I left it. Personal time/quiet time only comes now when I’m in the shower, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. My first job is mom, and, until now, I had no idea how fulfilling that would be.

My advice to anyone considering going down this path is don’t be afraid. Case files and incidents reports don’t define the children. They’ve all done the best they can with the situation they are in, and it will surprise you to see how they can rise above it once their fears subside about where they will be living tomorrow. It’s not easy, but it’s not nearly as hard as I expected it to be. Don’t worry if you’re single or how that will be perceived when being considered as an adoptive parent. This was something I was worried about, and I now have three incredible children who call me, “Mom.”

And finally, PLEASE be open minded about older kids. Older children need parents too! My kids were in foster care for over 6 years. Open your heart and consider these older kids, I promise you, they’ll love you back too just like those little ones will!