I’m a little late remembering National Adoption Month in the U.S. (it was last November), but I’m early observing National Foster Care Month in May. Many families who have experienced either foster care or adoption celebrate these events, and my family now has experience with both. I am thankful to be part of a company who values families created through various means. Celanese is generous with adoption cost reimbursements and paid time off for moms and dads to participate in the bonding process – even for adoption and foster care placements.

In May my wife, Jenny, and I will be celebrating 17 years of marriage. One thing we’ve always had in common over the course of dating and married life is our love for kids. We talked even before we married about one day having a large family, whether through traditional means or adoption.

After our son, Noah, was born in 2005, we found ourselves waiting for our next baby to arrive. Year after year came and went, but no baby came. Our thoughts again went to the idea of adoption. We interviewed other adoptive families and attended conferences to gather information. We began working with Inheritance Adoption Agency based in Wichita Falls, TX, a couple of hours drive from our home in the fall of 2009.

From there, our adoption process went relatively smoothly and quickly. Our home study was completed in January of 2010. Then on March third, we got the call that a little baby had been born at the hospital the previous night, and she needed a family. Our daughter, Kaitlyn Joy, had arrived! I hurried home from work. We packed our overnight bag and drove to Wichita Falls. We stayed one night with her in the hospital and took her home the next day.

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As anyone who has adopted children can attest, kids who have been adopted have experienced some form of trauma. Whether you adopt a child at birth (like us) or when they are older, the trauma is there. For the child to be adopted means that the bond between birth mother and child is broken. Due to this adoption trauma, our next years were spent with counselors helping our little girl “attach” to our family. Healing her trauma is an ongoing process.

Our path to foster care was not something we had planned. In November 2018, Jenny got a call from a friend at church who is the director of a home for families in crisis. There was an 18-month old girl who needed a safe place to live for a week. Jenny and I agreed, and little “Z” came to our home that night. We played with and loved on Z for a week, knowing she’d soon reunite with her family. After she left us, we continued to pray for her and her family every night.

The next spring, Jenny got another call from her friend to tell us that Child Protective Services was getting involved with Z’s family. She and her sisters would be separated from their mother and placed in family and foster homes. Due to our familiarity with Z and our encouragement to her mother, we were asked to keep her for 6-18 months. We, of course, agreed. Z came back to stay with us in September 2019 and has been with us since then.

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It has been an eye-opening experience to see up close how the foster care system works. We drive Z to visit with her family once a week. There are multiple case workers involved with whom we meet monthly. The goal at this time is for family reunification. Jenny and I cheer on Z’s mom, as she makes positive steps toward her goals. We pray the Coronavirus will not delay their reunification too long, as they’re ready to be together again.

We currently have a biological son, an adopted daughter and a foster daughter. And in September, our hearts and home will be completed by the addition of our new baby – an unexpected and oh-so-sweet surprise. We look forward to whatever the future holds for our family, and we are grateful to our Celanese family for their support as we adjust to these exciting changes.