It was a cold January day in 2015 when I told my husband there was “no way” we could do foster care or foster to adopt. We had recently watched my sister and her husband have a tough day with their kids, who are now adopted. My husband responded by saying something to the effect of “if it’s what we are supposed to do, I think we can do it.” I thought he was crazy, but it soon became a conversation I could not forget. I began to think and pray about this idea often. What if we started our family with a child who has never been “first” in anyone’s life? What if we made him our first? As I thought this through, I became aware of the number of children in need of a home within our country and even just in our state. It was heartbreaking.
About a month later I told my husband if this was what we were supposed to do, I think we could do it. We spent weeks discussing the “pros and cons” of starting our family this way. The more and more discussion we had, the more and more my husband would tell me we needed to adopt a child with an autism diagnosis. In years past, we had worked at a school that specializes in serving students on the autism spectrum. I knew what it was like to do this 40 hours a week, sometimes even 60 hours a week, but doing this 24/7 in my own home was not something I was ready to embrace right away. I was reminded of how we had talked about making a child “first” in our home who had never been “first” in anyone’s life. We again discussed what it would take and how it would alter our current lifestyle, even more than adopting a typical child.
We began to discuss the idea with family, and soon after, our niece and nephew’s worker reached out to us about a nine year old boy who she had on her caseload. She told us she had been watching us interact with our special needs nephew and had always thought of us for this boy. Later we found out he was a boy who we had looked at many times on the MARE website. We completed our MAPP training that fall and met him in the spring of 2016. The process felt long and slow, but meeting him and making him part of our family made it completely worth it! Though it hasn’t always been easy, Donnie continues to make strides that were thought to be impossible for him. We still have our tough days, but seeing him be successful at new things and watching his growth process has become one our greatest joys!
This month we celebrate a year since we legalized his adoption and will welcome our first biological son. We could not be more thrilled for Donnie to be his big brother. We often talk about how it is hard to imagine our lives without him. What started out as something I never could imagine as a possibility for our lives ended up being one of our greatest decisions, and we are forever grateful to have Donnie as our first!
About the Family
Tim, Laura, and Donnie live on the North Shore. They enjoy being active and the outdoors, especially hiking and camping.