I’d raised my daughter Shahlah, who was now in her 20’s, and felt like I would enjoy raising another teenager. One day my social worker introduced me to a beautiful child who was 12 years old and had been in foster homes the majority of her life. While we were getting to know each other, I was introduced to her older brother Anthony. We hit it off and, together, we decided it would be great if I adopted him. He has asked that we not show a picture of him since he doesn’t want people to know that he is adopted, so I respect that. I can tell you that he is a handsome young man who looks like he could be my biological son, and he is doing very well in school and has a strong relationship with my daughter. As you can see, I am very proud of the fine young man he has become. I continue to keep my relationship with his sister as a loving adult in her life and we will see if at some point she too wants to be adopted. I feel so blessed to have met these children and learned quite a bit through the parenting classes. It’s also given me the opportunity to be a resource to other families who are considering adoption. My advice to you if you’re thinking of adoption is this – it's not easy but it is worth it!
I always wanted to be a parent, but I needed to find an agency that would approve an adoption with gay parents, which was not so easy at the time we began exploring adoption. Once we connected with our agency, the process of adopting our three sons (all brothers) ended up happening very quickly. From the day that we first saw their picture to the day they moved in, it was all of 22 days! We learned quickly to be open to the journey. While we initially envisioned two brothers under the age of three, our three sons, all over the age of three, turned out to be a perfect match for us. The first time we saw the boys, it was at a park with their social worker. Brian came running up to me and gave me a big hug and there were tears of joy. I knew at that moment that I had found my sons. I think people don’t realize how very much adoptive families are similar to other families in that you have the same ups and downs. However, as an adoptive family we have also learned how to build resilience in our children when they encounter others who think adoption is so “different.” One day our youngest came home and said he had been bullied at school. We realized it is important to prepare our kids with the language and responses they need in order to feel empowered. The next time another kid said to him, “You don’t have a Mom!” he responded with, “Of course I have a mom, we all do. It’s just that I live with my two Dads”. The teasing stopped after that.
In 2015, the Tapp family started an adoption journey that would forever change their lives and the lives of others. They found Lilliput, where they were matched with a social worker that would help them grow their beautiful family. Lilliput, through its class offerings and one-on-one counsel, would help the Tapps determine what they could reasonably support as a family.
“Getting honest with ourselves was challenging,” says Michelle. “I didn’t want it to feel like I was shopping- there are kids that need parents! I learned that it’s really about looking deep down inside to find what Chad, Gavin, and I are able to provide.”
Two days after the Tapps became a certified adoptive family, Lilliput wanted to know if they would consider two brothers, ages 5 and 8.
“That was…unexpected,” laughs Michelle. “We went through this soul searching process and decided that we would be able to provide for a single child aged 0-3, and this was quite different.” But they went all-in and met Ezyah, 8, and DeAngelo, 5. A year later, the boys and the Tapps found themselves together as a family, with another delightful surprise. Their cousin, Aniyah (8 years old) asked if Michelle and Chad would be her parents! They learned later that Aniyah didn’t have a bed to call her own and she ate only during school hours - at school. Lilliput helped the Tapps adopt a new, beautiful daughter.
In talking about what life is like now, Michelle says there are ups and downs, but mostly ups.
“There are usually some issues that the kids bring with them, left over from their previous upbringing,” she says. “But Lilliput has so many wonderful programs, classes, and support that really help us get through it. Lilliput’s been instrumental in helping us to create and even maintain a loving relationship with the boys’ birth mom, Cristal. That’s so important - they don’t have to lock that part of themselves up and not talk about it. They can allow it to be a part of them."
David and Jocelyn Romero were open-minded. They wanted to adopt, but they didn’t confine their search to a specific age, race, or number of children. Instead, they put their trust in their social worker and waited patiently for her to find the perfect match. Their dreams came true one day when they were introduced to Maria and Estefania, two sisters aged 14 and 8 at the time. It’s been seven years since the girls entered the picture — five since they were officially adopted — and the Romeros have come to realize that they’re not so different from other families. They take vacations, they play board games together, and they look out for each other when one of them needs support. And now, the Romero family is growing again. David and “Mama Jo” are entering grandparenthood as Maria expects her first child, affectionately named after Jocelyn. David has shared his family’s story at Resource Family Approval orientations with the goal of convincing potential adoptive parents to consider adopting older children and teens like they did. “I often describe parenting a 14-year-old kid as jumping on a rocket at full speed,” he says with a chuckle, but the reward that comes from parenting has made every difficult moment worthwhile. Read the Romeros’ full story here.