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It Takes More Than Love: Adopting A Foster Child


DeShaun was just 5 years old when he left his first foster home. He had been there for several years, but the foster parents could no longer care for him, so he had to leave the only home he had ever known and the people he knew as “mom” and “dad.” He moved to a new home, but his sadness and anxiety made it hard to concentrate – not just at school, but everywhere. He was diagnosed with new disorders and given a one-on-one aide service. He lived in the foster home, but special workers came in to get him dressed and out the door to school, sat with him at school and spent the evening with him when he came home. He had plenty of caretakers, but no one that he felt close to.


Then one day, new parents came to pick him up. He got to know them through several visits and eventually moved into their home. They were “forever” parents, they told him. But he wasn’t sure. He had heard that before. The anxiety didn’t go away. He thought maybe if he did something wrong, they might get rid of him. But what did he do wrong the first time? He couldn’t sleep at night and he woke up early in the morning. The anxiety made him do funny things that seemed to annoy his sleep-deprived new parents.


Eventually, DeShaun’s new parents were so fed up with him, they gave up. They told the agency they could no longer keep DeShaun. But there was one big problem: they never really said goodbye, and that made it so much harder for DeShaun when they returned him to foster care. By the time he got to the next home, he was starting to feel numb. Those parents said they would keep him, too, but it didn’t last long. Professionals who worked with DeShaun wondered if he would ever have a true home. Were his behaviors so bad that no parent could keep him?  Was he… “unadoptable?”


Then he met Andrea.


Andrea had adopted in the past, but she had never been a foster parent. She knew she loved DeShaun from the minute he got to her house. But it takes more than love to adopt, she said later. “I had to put aside my emotions and make sure I could provide all the support systems that he would need in order to be successful.” Andrea provided a stable environment, giving DeShaun love and support, but never over-promising. When DeShaun disobeyed or made a mess, Andrea reacted with patience instead of anger, redirecting him to the correct behavior. Slowly, DeShaun began to relax. As the anxiety dissipated, he improved in school. In one short year, DeShaun has gone from needing a full-time aide, to excelling in his classes and reading above grade level!


“When he felt secure in Andrea’s home, all the anxiety that was getting in his way just disappeared,” says Monica Testa, DeShaun’s permanency worker. Andrea’s influence on DeShaun is inspiring. “Watching how she interacts with DeShaun, providing consistent, loving, firm support – he can just thrive.”


Though many parents had given up on DeShaun, his story is proof that with love and the right kind of support, children who have experienced multiple loses can still find a forever home.


“I don’t know if I’m helping DeShaun as much as he’s helped me,” says Andrea. “He has me laughing all the time!”


Please note: Some names in this story have been changed for confidentiality.

About Adoptions Together:

To meet your needs, Adoptions Together has four locations in DC, MD, and VA.  Please feel free to contact Anna if you are interested in adopting. They would be more than happy to support you as you begin the process to build your family through adoption.  Also, check out their website for resources and information about the types of adoption services they offer. Special thanks to Anna Lustre, Outreach/Support Specialist, for this submission. For more information, please visit http://www.adoptionstogether.org