With three sons by birth, Veronica Chenik Gilmore also had a deep wish to adopt, going back to her own childhood. After the birth of their youngest son, her husband Jon warmed to the idea of adoption too.
Through an adoption that began with AdoptUSKids, the Gilmores are a happy and very busy family of nine. Their seven children range from ages 10 to 22.
The Gilmores began their long road to adoption in 2006, gaining their adoptive parent “training wheels” by providing respite care for foster parents, through a social services agency. They wanted to adopt locally.
The photo that changed everything
While visiting the AdoptUSKids website in 2011, Veronica saw a description of a group of siblings from Tennessee who were eligible for adoption. After the Gilmores submitted paperwork to the state of Tennessee, they received some important news in January 2012. They were one of five potential adoptive families being considered for adoption of the siblings, who were two boys (ages 12 and 13) and two girls (ages 8 and 10).
In April of 2012, they first spoke with the siblings by phone. “They talked to us from their foster mom’s car, during a thunderstorm, and they tossed the phone around like a hot potato,” Veronica remembers. During the call, the twelve-year old asked an all-important tween question: “When am I going to get a cell phone?”
During the next three months, the Gilmores made many drives to Tennessee to visit with the siblings—a 12-hour round trip. Meanwhile the adoption process progressed, with legal proceedings in two states. “During the entire adoption process, the kids’ social worker, Marsha Carrier, was an incredible resource to us,” Veronica says.
Blending as a family
The children moved in with the Gilmores in July of 2012, and they began the process of blending as a family. They have turned to a therapist when needed, and communication helped too. Veronica and Jon held frequent “front porch meetings” with each of the children, just to talk about how things were going. Regular meetings of the entire family covered everything from meal-planning to friendship choices.
One of the special joys for Veronica and Jon was the opportunity to parent daughters. Veronica later shared her experiences in an article for Adoptive Families, telling how pink nail polish and a shared love of musicals helped her bond with her girls.
After the adoption, the Gilmores were able to re-establish contact with some of the children’s family members. Jon created a private Facebook account to post photos and news about the kids. Many family members have used the site to share memories about them.
Today, the Gilmore family is giving back, showing caring for teens who are still within the foster care system. They began writing cards to teens in foster care, then recruited friends to join them. This initiative became the Card Shower Project, a nonprofit organization. (Cards are delivered to participating teens by their social workers.)
Veronica often serves as resource to individuals considering adoption and has four tips to share:
- Clarify your desire to adopt as a family and seek counsel with a trusted therapist specializing in adoption.
- Read everything you can about adoption, attachment issues, and legal barriers in your state.
- Join an online adoption group for (anonymous) support.
- Try respite care within a foster care agency first. Be open. Don’t take the process personally.
All the persistence has been worth it, Veronica says, because “our kids are doing fantastic!”
A caseworker’s perspective
Veronica Gilmore nominated the children’s caseworker, Marsha Carrier, to be featured as an “Outstanding Caseworker” on our website. Read her tips for adopting children from a different state and learn more about her work with the Gilmore family.