Shipley FamilyWe are the Shipley family. We are a happy family who love to spend time together. We have not always been as big a family as we are now. When my husband and I started planning our family we thought we would have two biological children and then adopt two children. After having two beautiful daughters we decided we would like to adopt two little boys to round out the family.
We started the process to adopt through DHS. We took weeks worth of classes and filled out stacks of paper. When we finally had a home study completed and we were ready to start looking at bulletins we were told we would most likely not get a younger boy unless we did foster care. We were scared to do foster care and have our hearts broken in the process so we prayed about what to do next. We felt like maybe looking into adopting an older child was where we were being led. We talked to our adoption worker and she said that adopting an older child could cause all sorts of problems for our little family, she also stated again that the best children get picked out through foster care and that we should switch our home study over to a foster file. We did switch over to being foster parents and then waited and waited to get a phone call.
As the weeks drew on we still felt very drawn to the idea of adopting an older child. At that time I had a friend who was doing long term foster care for a 12 year old girl. She had been connected with this placement through the heart gallery. My friend gave me Christy's phone number and said "Just give her a call, she is great!" So I did. After I explained my situation to Christy she said there were many great older children waiting to be part of a forever home. She asked if I had seen the profile for Shirell. My husband and I looked over Shirell's bio and felt an instant connection. We switched our file back over to adoption and asked our adoption worker to summit our home study.
It took a long time for our adoption worker to submit the home study. She was concerned that we didn't have enough information and that we might be making a big mistake. We had done a lot of praying and we were sure this was the right move for our family, even when we at times doubted, we were continually guided back to Shirell. Then we got a phone call. Shirell's case worker had to move Shirell as her current foster placement wanted her moved. We were asked if we wanted to take Shirell in as a foster child with the intention to adopt. We said "yes!" and changed our file back over to foster care. Shirell moved in two days later and was officially adopted a little less than a year after that date.
We have had another family member join the group within this last year and are thinking we still need to go back and adopt a couple of boys at some point. We have worked hard to become the family we are and feel joyful for all the happy memories we have created thus far. We have had lots of emotional ups and downs over this journey of adoption but we wouldn't change a thing. We are so blessed to have Shirell as our daughter and so thankful to the Heart gallery for all their support along the way.
We Are Family
Julia and her family were supposed to go to Southern Utah for spring break. Instead, they're here at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Eleven-year-old Julia loves this place. Today she's wearing pink and purple: a purple hat with sparkly plastic jewels, a pink hooded sweatshirt, purple flip-flops.
A Place to Call Home
Bob and Matt met through the work of several of our other programs. Matt was featured in the Heart Gallery and on our web site and that is exactly where Bob saw him. Bob has adopted before and was ready for his next family addition. From viewing Matt on the web site, to talking to our staff and ultimately connecting to our Heart Gallery Adoption Agency, Bob was able to get a home study and bring Matt home. Heart Gallery Adoption Agency focuses on older and harder to place kids. We consider Bob and Matt to be one of our proudest moments/successes.
Al & Jan
Our adoption story began about two years ago. I am a retired child psychotherapist and my husband is a retired Nationally Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. In our respective former marriages, we raised a total of 8 daughters to adulthood.
We thought we might be considered "too old" to adopt, but we were encouraged to apply. After interviews, homestudies, finger prints, FBI clearances, phone calls, questions, and tons of paperwork, we were approved and began our search. Using Adoptuskids, various state sites, and A Family For Every Child, We had expressed interest in children from all over the country.
There always seemed to be a catch that made a match seem less and less likely as time wore on. We knew as an older couple we didn't have what it takes to follow an energetic toddler around or stay up nights with an infant.
We would finally find an older child whose limited bio seemed a good match for our family, only to face the disappointment that a family had just been found for the child or that the child had violent behaviors or a psychotic illness. We stopped looking for a while, but then we made contact with Christy Obie-Barrett.
Although we were ready to accept there might not be a child that would match our family, Christy convinced us to hang in there. We are so glad we did. We found our daughter in October 2009 and the adoption was finalized last month.
She is a funny, lovable gem. She adds sparkle and purpose to our lives that no other type of retirement could. We would rather pay for her orthodontic braces, listen to her whine about her homework, and give her the love and stability she never had, but always deserved.
Trust, love, and respect takes time, but is very, very worth it.
We had a wonderful party to celebrate "It's a Girl" and "It's a Mom and a Dad". Our daughter had made D's and F's on her report cards prior to moving into our home and into our hearts. We are proud to report she made all A's and B's this grading period.
Thank you for your encouragement Christy! Perhaps our precious daughter expressed our feelings best when in court for finalization, as the judge pronounced us officially and legally a family, she shouted "BOOO YAH!!!"
Al & Jan
Dee and Austin
They started going out a couple times a week doing things such as hikes, taking in several Em's games, parades or just going out for a movie and popcorn.
At this time they were looking for options for Austin. Dee who is 54 and had no children started thinking about taking Austin in and what that would entail. She went from Can I do this? to Why not try to do this? They started with overnights and moved to 3 night weekends by Sept.
On Sept 26th Austin moved in with Dee and all is going well. Austin is a joy to be around..bright ..enthusiastic about life.. and has a great sense of humor... It was a great match!!
We truly give thanks to Christy and the Heart Gallery Program!!!
Frank, Tracey & Kyara
We had discussed the possibility of adopting a child since 2003, but never filled out the paperwork. In December of 2006, we decided that we were finished discussing the topic & actually signed up for the classes that started shortly thereafter. We had no children, but had hopes of adopting a little girl & in August, 2008 our dreams came true – in the form of our daughter, Kyara.
We had learned of Kyara through the Heart Gallery & have been ever so thankful for the continuing support. When we met Kyara & got to know her, we could almost hear the clicking of the last piece of a puzzle as she was the perfect fit to make our family complete. The three of us all have a similar sense of humor & laugh a lot, we love animals, & spending quality “family-time” together. We’ve also found that Kyara shares our love for travel!! We were fortunate enough to introduce Kyara to her large east coast family & enjoyed the excitement of New York City during the trip!!
We are genuinely grateful to the foster family who assisted us with such a smooth transition & who took wonderful care of Kyara. We were truly blessed to be chosen for Kyara & love & respect her more each & every day. It’s a wonderful life!!
“How I Feel About Getting Adopted!”
I’m happy for my new family,
Kevin and I had adoption placed on our hearts in August of 2006 and we indicated our interest in Jessica in September of 2007 after the needed classes, paperwork and home study were completed. When the phone call came from her social worker in March 2008 - we were frankly a bit stunned.
A Heart Gallery Success Story
Shelley Kurtz shares a Heart Gallery success story: three children on their way to a new home in Tennessee.
He chronicles the lives of his four adopted children and their move from Guatemala with moving tenderness. Timothy adopted through PLAN adoption agency in McMinnville. He informed me that with international adoptions, there are actually two adoptions that occur. The children are adopted in their country of origin and then are adopted again within a year of arrival in the United States.
Gabriela, was adopted at age 4 and is now 12. She and her birth sister Angela, now 9, were separated at Angela's birth and reunited through adoption. They came to the Justice home in 1997. He proudly describes Gabriela as, "a warm, happy, creative and artistic child." Angela has had some challenges. At age 1, she had no muscle tone, a language delay, ADHD and Sensory Integration problems. Timothy sought services to address these challenges and she has made some excellent strides in her overall development. Some of the unknowns when committing to be a child's "forever" parent, require an unconditional acceptance of what children bring with them. Timothy discovered that the language problem Angela experienced was the result of being profoundly deaf. She is bilingual in American Sign Language and English. "Sweet, playful and a heart full of affection" is Timothy's description of his daughter. Miguel came at age 7 months and is now 6 years old. Timothy recalls, "In every picture my mother noticed that there was a steady gaze between us, as I first held my son." Miguel today is the budding musical artist! His dramatic play involves conducting a "pretend" orchestra in the family room. "He would challenge the knowledge of most adults in his ability to link composers and their musical compositions," says Timothy.
Sebastian, almost 2 years old at his arrival, is now 4 years old and attends preschool full time! He arrived at Portland International Airport with his escort. He was peacefully sleeping throughout the entire transition. Finally he opened his little eyes in his new bedroom, transported thousands of miles from the place of his birth. Timothy shared that his little mouth quivered and for a moment he looked tearful. Then he noticed Gabriela, Angela and Miguel. Instantly, he appeared calm and even smiled! Today he is the family comedian. He loves acting silly and creating the joys that come from childhood innocence.
Not without challenges and difficulties when one makes the commitment to parent 4 children alone, Timothy speaks with pride and tenderness about his children.
MARLENE & BRE FOSTER TO ADOPT FAMILY
Marlene was a single, gay, middle aged lawyer who decided to become a foster parent after the events of 9/11. Bre's birth parents lost custody of her to DHS because of their methamphetamine addiction and their inability to provide a safe secure home for Bre. Bre was 3 when she came into Marlene's life and she couldn't sit still for a meal, didn't know what a book was for, and threw tantrums regularly and loudly. But Bre and Marlene both liked outdoor activities, bike riding, swimming, and camping, and Marlene was committed to not shuffling Bre in the foster care system. Bre loved Marlene's dog Becky, loved the stories Marlene read to her at night, and made a lot of new friends at pre-school, the Rainbow Rascals playgroup, adored her cousins, and helped her Grandma find her teeth and her glasses when they visited. After three years together and lots of shared ups and downs, DHS asked Marlene to adopt Bre. Bre had been calling Marlene "Momma" for most of that time, and said she wanted to be part of Marlene's family. And Marlene was so happy to have Bre as her own daughter! While Bre was exposed to meth in utero and had a rough beginning in life, she does well at school and at Sunday School, and is popular with other kids. Bre plays basketball and loves to swim and bike ride, and Marlene and Bre have a rich social circle of friends and family.
Bre and Marlene celebrated Bre's adoption just before Bre turned 7 years old, and just before Marlene turned 55. Marlene retired from the practice of law in order to parent Bre, who is the greatest joy.
Sharon and Dan —Adoptive Family
Sharon stated, "All these kids were meant for our family. They are perfect for us." "It is also hard to think about the fact that their biological parents have missed the joy they have brought to our lives," she continued. Sharon and Dan have adopted four special needs children. Nick, age 25 is their first adoptive son. He was three days old when they brought him home from Mexico. He works in the food service industry. Nine months and one day later, they had their only biological child Brianna, who is 24. Dakota, now 11 is the second adopted son and their first foster child. He is diagnosed with high functioning autism. What Sharon and Dan describe is a boy who is "magnetic, endearing, warm and wonderful!" They stressed looking at the heart of a child, as opposed to a diagnostic label. At age 10, David, their third son has transcended every description in his adoptive profile. The profile stated that due to global disabilities, David would never function beyond the capacity of a nine month old baby and would never be able to feed orally. Sharon read about David in an adoptive resource monthly newsletter, Family Matters. The only thing she knew was, "I could be David's mother." She mentioned this desire to her husband Dan and his only remark was, "Let's see if he is still available." Sharon proudly shares that David can walk up to an hour a day with assistance; he eats 3 meals a day and has an adaptive bike that he is currently making strides on." With David's adoption they were done. Of course, another monthly issue of Family Matters came in the mail! Sharon saw Corwin. Again the nine months of pondering before she talked to Dan. The couple decided to adopt Corwin, age 2 who has Down Syndrome, ADHD and prenatal drug exposure. In her heart, Sharon knew their family was now complete.
Sharon and Dan created a family of children who have full and wonderful lives. Their daughter Brianna has kept the adoption legacy alive. She recently adopted 2 year old Javon and now Sharon and Dan are grandparents!
Tammy and Joe have been foster parents for DHS-Child Welfare for 2 ½ years and have fostered 17 children in that period. Prior to that they fostered children in the state of California for almost the same amount of time. Currently, the household includes 4 biological daughters and 6 foster children, boys ranging from 9 years to 3 months old. A family of 12 is rare, but Tammy claims they go many places together and often draw compliments for how well behaved the children are. The question "why" would be a natural one, when you think about the extra time, energy, effort and expense. Tammy put it this way. They always have had a heart for children and often were instrumental in youth ministry in their church. In that setting, she saw so much need. She further stated, "I just wanted to be part of their healing. Turning anger into love and turning fear into trust." Joe's eyes shined when he talked about how wonderful it is to just hold their 3month old foster son, who definitely has a real attachment to his foster Dad.
The ******** manage a household that is calm, safe and happy. They strive to give the foster children in their care an environment to be kids again without the anxiety and chaos that accompanies unsafe homes. Their 9 year old foster son reported how much he liked having clean sheets and clean clothes. With time, he told Tammy and Joe about a favorite lesson he learned since living with them. He commented, "My favorite thing I learned in your house is how to be respectful. When I am respectful other people are respectful of me." There are life long lessons that create a new value system for children who did not have the opportunity to learn these life changing messages. A 13 year old girl who no longer lives with the Hadleys, still calls twice a month from Alaska where she is currently living with her biological siblings. This child referred to Tammy as "my angel who gave me another chance!"
The four girls are more empathic towards the hardships that people endure. "They will never not know how hard circumstances can be in the world nor will they be able to ignore them", said Joe and Tammy.
In the meantime with 6 foster boys at home, Joe and Tammy and their 4 girls have changed children's experiences, providing structure, safety, respect and love until permanent decisions are made about the future of these children. The bottom line, "We want to be good examples of what they can be." Joe and Tammy were selected as Foster Parents of the Year in 2006 for their extraordinary service to foster children.
ANGIE & GABRIEL & ANI—CASA
Four year old Gabriel had been in and out of foster care most of his life. He and his baby sister Ani had just spent 6 months together in a foster home when they were returned to their mother Shawna who had been battling a drug addiction. At the time of their return home, Angie was assigned as the children's CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). After thoroughly investigating the facts of the case, monitoring their mother's recovery, getting to know Gabriel and Ani and interviewing countless people involved in their case, Angie recommended that the children be returned home permanently to their mother who had successfully completed all of her treatment services. In June of 2006, Gabriel and Ani's case was closed and they are permanently reunited with their mother.
Imagine for a minute. A home in Eugene with children ages, 7, 6,5,4,1 and 6 months! Jessica 24 and Dan 25 have been married for two years; they have a biological son who is the 6 month old! The five other children are foster children, but to them, there is no difference in the love and care for either the foster children or their biological son. Their dream is to start a home for children, until then they will do family foster care. Their motivation to care for children in state custody is based on their faith in action. It is a calling to "bless other children, who have experienced a difficult time in their short lives," says Jessica. In the year and a half that they have been certified by the state to do foster care, the family has fostered 14 children. 9 of those children are no longer in their care and 5 remain.
There is a special wonderment that these children bring to ordinary situations. "Having a hot dog at a high school football game is a new experience." Going to the family farm and seeing a tractor or sheep is a special experience." They recognize that what other children take for granted is a new and spectacular experience for these children. "It is truly heartwarming to see their excitement and joy over the simplest things in life," they claim. The transformation that occurs is the reward for these foster parents. First, you see the physical changes manifested in healthier and well nourished bodies. Then in 30 days or so, you begin to see the beginning of trust and attachment. The initial testing is often a huge challenge! These kids are asking if you will be there no matter what - the test of your commitment to them. "If you hang in there, that is when they begin to open up emotionally and you see the true vulnerable nature that was hidden away", says Jessica.
Understanding that children who have been hurt and traumatized need time to feel the full range of their emotions is a necessary part of healing. In a foster home, such as Jessica and Dan provide, this need is honored and respected. The moments of snuggling and feeling loved. The times when someone gets a new hair cut and learns the word "stud muffin" are the building blocks for a secure sense of self. They have taken on the challenge and only laugh when they are looked upon as extraordinary. In their minds, they are simply living their faith through their ministry with children.
BOB & SONS — FOSTER FAMILY
I began foster parenting in 1987 and haven't stopped since. My early years were struggles with many challenges in my family and my young adulthood. Wonderful people reached out to me during those times and, I promised myself that I would someday grow to be a man who helped kids who needed a special someone. I came to Oregon in 1985 to begin a new life that would take me in the directions that I dreamed about in my youth. I attended college where I dabbled in every major that was conceivable. Writing was my passion so I wrote about the kids who suffering seemed to remain hidden from most people's consciousness. I frequently complained that "Someome needed to do something to help those kids" My mentor Clint , a seventy something senior citizen with great wisdom told me to, "Go home and look in the mirror. Someone will be there....get him to do something to help those kids!"
He encouraged me to be a foster parent....I was afraid. I wondered if I could really make that kind of difference in a child's life. Before I knew it my family size went from one person who couldn't decide what to do if he ever grew up to a family of four with three teenagers looking to me for safety, nurturing and hope for a better life. I suddenly realized that I had more wisdom than I could have hoped for.......that I had found a meaningful way to live my life with passion and joy.
I'm far from perfect. I've perfected my apologies and I've learned how to accept that I don't know everything.
At the end of the day when my eight boys are in bed, I walk through the house quietly and look in on my boys. I thank the universe for allowing me the privilege to keep them safe and to help them discover the strength and the courage and the joys that live inside them. They are the people who helped me to discover them within my self.