Not perfect—but happy
Kristen Brock shared her adoption story with us in a short note that began:
Imaginary dating profile: Divorced, single working mom with teen son, adding two tweens with trauma history to her family. Little time for socialization, daily schedule always a surprise.
We were amused and intrigued, and asked Kristen to share more of what she calls a “long and sometimes winding” adoption journey with us.
What made you decide to adopt from foster care?
I always knew I wanted more kids. After one child, a divorce, and turning 50, I realized my options were limited. When I was introduced to the foster care system through friends, I knew that everything up to this point in my life had led me to this place.
From the start, you were committed to adopting older siblings. Why?
For obvious reasons, babies and toddlers weren’t an option. I wanted school-aged boys. And I believed that if I adopted siblings, it would be easier for them to make the transition to a new home together.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out exactly that way.
When I decided to adopt the boys who would eventually become my sons—Jonathan and Desean—they were not living together. Jonathan was in a foster home and Desean was in a treatment group home working through some pretty serious anger management issues.
Jonathan—who was as introverted as his brother was expressive—moved into our home in 2013. We stayed in close touch with Desean, and I began to build a relationship with both of them.
It took nearly two years, but finally, in July 2016, Desean was able to move into our home.
How did you help your sons adjust to your home and their new lives?
Jonathan and Desean needed time to heal—and to learn that I wasn’t going anywhere. The process was challenging and lonely at times. I worked at home, and my schedule revolved around their school and appointments. I definitely didn’t have much of a social life for the first few years—unless you count the middle school principal, who it seemed that I was talking with every other day!
Now we are in a much better place. Looking back, I think a key to working through their trauma was keeping an eye on the bigger picture and the boys’ potential for future success. Knowing that whatever might be happening, it was not going to last forever and remembering that every storm, no matter how big, would eventually pass.
What else has adopting from foster care taught you?
People tell me that what I am doing is amazing—they think that I have sacrificed. But my boys have taught me so much more than I have given—starting with humility. And that it is OK to surrender control and to let go of what other people think about me. Adopting my boys has made me a better person and helped me grow in ways that I never knew were possible.
Also, because Jonathan and Desean are biracial, adopting them opened my eyes to some of the realities facing Black boys in America and forced me to have some tough conversations with them.
What have been the greatest rewards?
It has been an interesting, heartbreaking, roller-coaster ride! There were times when I wondered why I took this path. But now the really rough days seem miles away. The boys have made amazing progress in school and in healing.
There is no such thing as a perfect family, but we are a happy family.