This article was written by Kim Johnson, supervisor of adoptions services for Partnership for Strong Families of Gainesville. It has been copied from The Gainseville Sun's website, where it was published on Monday, November 22, 2010.
If you had asked me before today about adopting a teen, I would have said it was because I work in the child welfare system and too many teens go from painful childhoods to aging out of foster care and living on their own without the opportunity to be kids.
It was my answer because I believed it, until November 12th.
Robert captured my heart when I saw him on the adoption websites (www.adoptfl.org and www.adoptuskids.org) in April. We hadn't planned to adopt, as our hands were full with two little ones and a home without adequate space for another child. Robert's picture went on our refrigerator nonetheless and our steps toward adopting progressed.
The months leading up to his finalization were heartfelt to say the least. The more we learned about Robert, the more we loved him.
He encompasses all the things you could wish for in a young adult, but oftentimes fleeting in a teen. He is considerate, helpful, respectful, kind-hearted, playful, cheerful, a peacekeeper and a faithful companion.
Robert's enthusiasm and charismatic smile can light up a room and has brightened our home every single day since his arrival. He embodies the concept of resiliency more than anyone I've known and in that challenges me to find reasons to be grateful in all circumstances.
There were many reasons my heart had already grown to appreciate the transformation of our family, but the magnitude of what was at hand saved itself for delivery on finalization day.
It's difficult to put into words what a mother feels sitting in an adoption finalization and hearing the judge call it "a celebration of an additional birthday to be celebrated, a new child has entered the family."
Having had a biological daughter and son, I can testify that the emotions elicited are nothing short of being handed your newborn the first time. An adoptive mother spoke before our finalization, she believes each time a child's biological parent is unable to care for them, there is another person or family especially purposed to parent them.
On that day, November 12th, I realized that while I thought we made a decision to fill a need, instead I received a gift of a son, particularly tailored for my heart.
With feelings of completion and joy as we finalized, I now see, that just as the birth of a child is a miracle, the adoption of a child is just as miraculous.
My answer today is a new one. We adopted a teen because something in me knew, before I knew, that our family was missing Robert.
It's confirmed daily as I see the smiling faces of our two little ones as they all play. It's confirmed as I feel my own overwhelming gratitude that, despite Robert coming so far and through so much, he was somehow positioned in the perfect place at the perfect time for us.
We adopted a teen because our lives were missing Robert, and our family was blessed on November 12th to receive a miracle.