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Adoption Day celebrates the gift of family

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By Laura Hagan

He’s the lone male in his house. He’s married and has five daughters – two biological and three adopted. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Daniel, an Oldham County resident, and his wife, Lisa, attended an event Friday at the Oldham County Courthouse in honor of National Adoption Day, celebrating adoptive families.
It’s a far cry from where Daniel used to be, when he said the word “adopt” didn’t exist in his vocabulary.
“I always thought I’d have a big family, but not in this way,” he said.
Now, he’s got five daughters ranging from 3 to 14 years old and said adopting has been the “single best experience” of his life.
About seven years ago, when Lisa became pregnant with her third child, complications caused a miscarriage. Still wanting another child, the couple looked first at foster care after hearing about the process from their pastor.
“There are so many couples that can’t have kids at all and we didn’t want to take a child from them,” Daniel said, “but we found that there are a lot of kids just in this county that need families.”
Unlike some adoptions where families are paired with children in another country, Daniel and Lisa stayed close to home.
There are currently about 7,000 children in foster care in Kentucky. It’s a statistic that Daniel said opened his eyes.
The couple first got involved as foster/adoptive parents, meaning that the child placed with them could stay until they could be reunified with their parent or a family member. If that doesn’t happen and a family member terminates their rights, the child may then be adopted.
It’s a system that Daniel calls a win-win for the child. If they get to go back home with their parents, that’s usually a good thing but if they become orphans they have the option often to stay in the home they’ve gotten used to with foster parents.
Daniel and Lisa have fostered 12 children throughout the past several years – children with varying stories and challenges, who’ve stayed for as few as hours and as long as months.
“It’s shown my kids another side of life,” he said. “And it’s been a blast.”
He said the family has loved opening their home to children in need and though it’s hard at times, the family has had a good experience.
“The fact that you’re standing in the gap with them when no one else will,” he said, “is very rewarding.”
Then there’s the issue of becoming attached to the child after they’re in the home for some time. It happens, the couple said, but they say it’s a selfish thought to have.
“It’s the number one reason people say they don’t want to be foster parents,” Daniel said. “They’re afraid they’ll have trouble letting go. But the benefits outweigh that grief.”
Lisa tells people it’s the hardest experience she’s dealt with but at the same time it’s the biggest blessing. And while she says it’s wonderful to be able to help these children, at times people should take the rose-colored glasses off.
“It’s an emotional rollercoaster,” she said.
But knowing that the foster experience has made a difference that can change them for the better is what it’s about, she said. It’s not just about adopting. The hope is often to reunite families if it’s possible.
She’s no stranger to the attachment factor, she said. In fact, when she and her husband started taking in foster children, she worried she “wouldn’t be able to give them back.”
“But when you get into it, your perspective changes,” she said. “You’ve done something good.”
But it’s still OK to grieve, she said. In fact, if you didn’t, it’d be strange. And there’s support for that.
Lisa now serves as a liason to three foster families. She helps ease transitions, answer questions and reassure families they’re doing the right thing. She currently works with three families and says it’s been neat to see things from the other side. When she and Daniel closed their home to any more foster children, she said she still wanted to be involved. What better way, she said, than to help other parents in the same place she and her husband used to be.
At Friday’s ceremony, State Rep. Rick Rand spoke to the gathering of adoptive parents from different parts of the region and thanked them for giving the children a safe home.
“Thank you for choosing to be parents,” he said, “and making sure these children have good lives ahead.”
Judge Tim Feeley, who handles adoption cases in Oldham family court said adoptions are his favorite part of his job, because everyone’s always so happy.
He too, acknowledged the parents for their commitment to the children.
“Thanks for stepping forward and caring for kids who wouldn’t otherwise have a safe, stable and loving home,” he said.
For information on foster care or adoption call the Cabinet for Health and Family Services at (888)-698-2221.

E-mail us about this story at: lhagan@oldhamera.com.