‘As the social worker drove away, Tonya waved goodbye with a sad look on her face. ‘Let’s do it, let’s adopt.’: Couple adopt preteen from foster care, ‘3 months old or 17 years old, ALL children deserve a forever family’

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“Brian and I met in 2006 and married in 2008. After marriage, the conversation of having children would come up from time to time. We knew we wanted to experience parenthood, but felt we would be a better fit parenting an older child. That’s when we realized adoption would be perfect for us and a great way to start our family. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday when we decided to ‘go for it.’ We were eating dinner at LongHorn Steakhouse. Brain was extremely quiet and barely eating. I asked him what was wrong. He looked at me and said, ‘Let’s do it, Let’s adopt.’ At first I almost choked on my water, not from what I just heard, but because I knew our lives were about to change.

Couple take a selfie together while out to dinner
Courtesy of Kimberly Porter

After discussing and researching, we decided to pursue adoption through Children’s Home Society. One day, we came across a particular profile on the Children’s Home Society website. Her name was Tonya, 10 years old and looking for a forever family. Her recruiter’s information was also listed. We reached out to our social worker at the time and asked if we could receive Tonya’s profile. After viewing her information, we felt she was the child for us.

Tonya’s recruiter, Tiffany, who is also partnered with the Dave Thomas Foundation, called me one evening. We talked about Tonya and decided to set up a meeting with our social worker Ashley, Tonya’s social worker Loretta, and her Guardian ad Litem Erica. We all met in March of 2016. I remember Brian and I being so nervous. Once everyone arrived and conversation began, we felt so comfortable and blessed to meet such wonderful individuals involved in Tonya’s life.

I remember the first meeting we had with Tonya, which was in April 2016, shortly after our meeting with all the social workers and her recruiter. We met at the Children’s museum located in the county she resided in. Brian and I were inside feeling nervous and anxious. First, we saw the door open and her social worker Loretta walked through. Behind her was a tall young girl, who also seemed nervous. I remember Brian and I both said, ‘Man, she’s tall.’ We had a blast spending time with her at the museum and felt she also enjoyed the visit.

Family of three take a photo together while out at dinner
Courtesy of Kimberly Porter

Our second visit with Tonya was at an amusement park. The day was filled with excitement and we could tell she was beginning to warm up to us. After the visit, Tonya’s social worker picked her up. We noticed as they drove off, Tonya waved goodbye with a sad look on her face. Brian and I knew at that moment she was our child. As far as ups and downs, Tonya leaving after each visit were definitely considered low moments. However, Loretta always made the transition painless and comforted us during these times.

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption - Tonya's Story
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

After several visits, Tonya finally moved in with us in June of 2016. The adoption was finalized in May of 2017.  Not only was the ‘foster to adopt’ process a new experience for us, but we were also becoming parents for the first time. Brian and I realized how blessed we were to have support from our family and friends. We also loved the support from the wonderful social workers, recruiter and guardian ad litem that met with us during our first meeting back in March of 2016. Tiffany, our Wendy’s Wonderful kid’s recruiter and Loretta, Tonya’s social worker, provided so much guidance and answered any questions we had during this experience.

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption - Tonya's Story
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

It has been a pleasure and a wonderful experience seeing our daughter Tonya blossom into a young lady. She was 11 when she moved in with us and is now 16. Tonya has evolved in so many ways. She’s very active in school and continues to make A’s and B’s. She loves volunteering and also has a modeling career. It’s also amusing to see her adapt or pick up habits Brian and I have, such as our sense of humor and certain foods we favor! There’s a saying Brian repeats when telling our story that touches my heart. He tells people, ‘When people say Kim and I blessed Tonya by adopting her, I tell them it’s the other way around. Tonya has blessed us by being our daughter. She has taught us how to love and care unconditionally.’

Aspiring model poses in couture fashion piece
Carlos Vincent Imagery
Dad and daughter smiler big for a photo while enjoying lunch together
Courtesy of Kimberly Porter

Adoption is a big decision and the experience in itself can be scary and joyous simultaneously. My advice, first, is to try to have a support system in place or someone you can share your experience with. There will be times when you’ll want to talk about some of your experiences (good or bad) and advice or feedback you’ll want to receive as far as parenting – especially from other parents who may have experienced the adoption process as well. Second, try to build a relationship with everyone involved (social workers, recruiters, guardian ad litem, current foster parents, etc.) Everyone involved has one goal, which is to do what’s best for the child involved. Working together will only make the process easier. Third, adoption is a blessing regardless of age. However, there seems to be a stigma on older children who are currently in foster care or those who have been placed in numerous homes. Just know, regardless if they are 3 months old or 17 years old, ALL children deserve a forever family.”

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption - Tonya's Story
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption - Tonya's Story
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Watch more about Tonya’s story here:

This story was submitted to Love What Matters  by Kimberly Porter of North Carolina. You can follow their journey on Instagram here, here, and here. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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