Since today is the last day of November, also known as Adoption Awareness Month, let me introduce you to the final family in SDP’s adoption interview series. I met Julie during lunch breaks at an elementary school where we both worked at the time. I remember overhearing a conversation she was having with someone (yes, I was ear-hustling) when she mentioned how many kids she had. In my head, I was like, “Geez. She has a lot of kids!” After getting to know her through these brief, yet meaningful lunchtime conversations however, I learned that she has a heart made of pure gold. She truly loves children and strives to provide the best experience for each and every child she comes in contact with, whether they are in her home or her classroom.
Ladies and gents, I present…
The Neely Family
Tell me about you and your family before adopting.
My husband and I married in 2011 and I had one son from a previous relationship who was 3 at the time. Both my husband and I knew we wanted a big family, so we started right away! We tried for a year before we were able to get pregnant. I didn’t think anything (at the time) of the time frame since I knew I was able to get pregnant and successfully carry. It wasn’t until we finally got pregnant and miscarried that we started to ask questions. For me, it had been my second miscarriage, so the concern was greater for me. We began the process of elimination to try and determine why we miscarried: blood work, countless tests, doctor visits, etc. We ended up getting pregnant again a year later only to miscarry again. The following year, pregnant again, miscarried again. The following year was no different. Pregnant again and miscarried yet again. We began the process of getting my husband tested too. Countless tests, doctor visits and money spent, we found that he did have something that was contributing to the losses; however, we were told there was still a chance. With this in mind, we decided to try again only this time with a fertility specialist. Before we could even completely commit to this journey, my friends introduced us to foster care and the foster to adopt program. We paused on the idea of fertility and decided to see what this foster care route was all about.
We had NO idea our lives were about to completely change!
Tell readers about your adoption journey.
Our home was officially approved for foster care August of 2014. We got our VERY first placement call September of 2014. We were TERRIFIED but excited too! We had no idea what to expect, what the state expected of us, so on and so forth. At this time, I had am 8 year old and a special needs 2 year old. I wanted to make sure that we accepted the perfect fit for our family. She had just been born 2 days prior to our call but was NOWHERE near ready to come home. Mom admitted to being an active IV heroin user throughout the entire pregnancy, so the baby was heavily addicted when she was born. She required a 30 day hospital stay with a 24 hour on call nurse for two weeks-even after her discharge. I knew she was going to be a lot of work. She would scream, cry, withdrawal, have issues with eating and sucking, etc., but it didn’t stop me from saying yes.
My husband and I were both ecstatic to have her. We LONGED to be parents again, and after the 4 losses we had suffered, there wasn’t much we wouldn’t accept.
I am SOOOOO glad we did, as she is now 6 years old, and the absolute highlight of our lives. She is my princess! Since then, we have adopted two brothers, and now working on our final adoption with our 16 month old daughter!
What challenges have you faced during your journey (or even after)?
Unfortunately, in the 6, going on 7 years we have fostered, there have been many challenges along the way. We have had parents claim we are not doing right by the children causing an investigation, we’ve had children reunified (which we know is great for the biological parents, but absolutely heartbreaking for the foster parents), and we have had one set of brothers that were put into another foster home because they were African American, and biological mom wanted the foster mom to be African American as well. Yes, you read this right. Devastating but true.
What rewards have you experienced through adoption?
We LOVE foster to adopt! I would recommend to anyone! We are working on our 4th adoption and we are so grateful to this program. Without them, we wouldn’t have the big family we so longed for. Although, we have had our fair share of ups and downs with the system, the ups still outweigh the downs.
What advice would you give others considering adoption?
I would highly recommend that you research what foster care is all about! It’s not as simple as it may seem. These children have experienced trauma of some sort and with trauma, comes issues whether that be emotionally, socially, physically, psychological. Being a foster parent requires patience, LOTS of LOVE, compassion, and understanding. The process can be tedious, exhausting, and in some cases, not even make sense. But, remember, whatever happens, you want what is best for the child. You may have a case where the biological parents are still involved and allowed visits. Being a great foster parent means you respect the process AND the outcome. Sometimes, the outcome is what you hoped for, and other times, it is not. This process is not for the faint of heart. It takes a special person to reach these special kids. My husband and I are honored to have been a part of this wonderful process.
Also, reach out to local foster parents for support! Only they will understand what you are truly going through! I can’t tell you how many amazing people I have met along my foster care journey, and for that, I am eternally grateful!
Share anything else you would like readers to know here.
I am SO grateful for the foster care system as we have such a beautiful family because of it!
I am honestly so thankful to God for allowing us to see this path as well!