By Lindsay Kaeding , UT Director of Development
Karen was once a vibrant, active five-year-old. She loved to play outside and run around with her friends. Because of physical abuse in her birth home by her biological mother, Karen ended up in the hospital unable to walk, talk, or communicate. She spent many years alone in a hospital room, unsure of what her future held for her. After being registered with The Adoption Exchange, a prospective adoptive family was matched with Karen. On their first visit to see her, the family asked if Karen would want to go home with them. After not speaking for several years and many doctors saying that she would never speak, Karen whispered the word “HOME.”
Since being in her adoptive home, Karen has learned to communicate in many different ways, including sign language. She attends school, plays with her brothers and sisters, and continues to improve day after day. Karen just recently celebrated her 16th birthday and is enjoying a life that at one point seemed impossibly out of reach.
By Amy H., Adoptive Mom
Four months ago, after starting the TBRI classes and being “awakened” to what my children really needed from me, I was crying to my therapist that I didn’t know why God would send children to me who I frankly didn’t have the skill set to give them what they needed. I wrote in my journal, “I know my kids need a more nurturing mom, and I seriously question if I am that kind of mom.” I was crushed to think that I couldn’t give my kids what they needed. Seriously, what could be more heartbreaking? Because I really love them! I remember one therapy appointment when I said to her, “Rex is just so mad at me all the time!” She said to me, “Well, you’re really mad at him all the time.” Whoa. I had never thought of that before. I really was at rock bottom as a mom. I determined to make things better. Over time, through the techniques I am learning in the classes, I have completely turned things around for our family. It hasn’t been easy. Sometimes I wondered if anything I was doing was making any difference. Rex seemed more angry at me for several weeks, but I have since seen Rex blossom into a completely different kid. He looks at me with that sparkle in his eyes again. He is not afraid of me anymore. I want to be with him and close to him. I want to listen to him and meet his needs. I want to help heal his wounded heart.
By Chelsey Winegar, WWK Recruiter
Isaiah, Calvin, Giovanni, and Nevon entered the foster care system in 2015. These siblings were incredibly close and had survived a lot of trauma together. Because of their strong bond, it was clear that they needed to remain together. Shortly after they came into foster care, it became apparent they were not going to be able to return home. In July 2016, this sibling group was registered with The Adoption Exchange and connected with a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) recruiter who began searching for the right adoptive family for these boys.
In September, Ken and Inez, whose biggest desire was to adopt a large sibling group, inquired on Isaiah, Calvin, Giovanni, and Nevon. The WWK recruiter could tell from the beginning that this family would be an incredible fit for these kids. After months of paperwork, the family was approved to be an adoptive family. They got to visit the kids in March 2017. The visit went really well, but several logistical barriers arose. However, the caseworker and recruiter continued to help the family to overcome each hurdle, and worked with the kids and the family on building a strong relationship. Continue reading
There are a few mantras The Adoption Exchange recites often. Two of those sayings – “unadoptable is unacceptable” and “no child is too old for a family” – are exemplified through JB’s story.
JB entered the Utah foster care system at age nine and was initially placed together with his older brother. Unfortunately, the first placement decided not to adopt the boys and they were eventually separated. This meant another move and another loss for JB. He continued enduring hardship as he experienced many more moves and a total of eight different placements. JB lived in homes with multiple families who stated they would adopt him, but never followed through. Continue reading
By Katie, adoptive parent
“Five minutes and then we are leaving.”
It seems like a typical conversation between parent and child, but to our family, those words reflect so much more. We are a family formed both through birth and adoption. In 2005, we had two biological children and adopted a little baby boy from Ethiopia. Over the next four years, we added one more son through birth and three more sons and a daughter from Ethiopia. In 2013, we decided to pursue an adoption through foster care.
We were quickly matched with a three-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister. Within three months of learning about them, they were in our home, and then the true work of becoming a family began. Our newest additions were traumatized by their difficult pasts and scared of their future with the group of strangers that were to be their family. As we navigated through the tangible things like doctor’s appointments, school meetings, and food preferences, we also focused on the intangible; safety, comfort, and love. Continue reading
By Ben Lusz, Director of Events and Volunteers
The world is your oyster, enjoy the possibilities.
Matt and I were in our late 20s and invited to a wedding. It gave Matt an opportunity to meet my childhood friends, and for me to catch up on their travels and see who was building a family. The nuptials happened, and everyone moved onto the important part…the reception. During this reception, instead of joining our friends on the dance floor doing the chicken dance, we found ourselves hanging out with their children. Then that moment happened when Matt I looked at each other and decided our life of freedom and no children may not be our long-term plan…parenthood was on the way; we were expecting.
By Angel, Age 14
Hi, my name is Angel; I’m 14, and I was adopted. Throughout my childhood, I was beaten, forced to take cold showers, and mistreated. Then I was in different foster homes for almost six years, and I just felt unwelcomed. I wasn’t happy during holidays or even my birthday, and I felt like I didn’t get a lot of love. The only people who cared about me were my caseworkers Jeanna and Chelsea. In school I wasn’t very popular and was bullied because of my looks; but I said to myself, “It’s just one bully, okay, brush it off.” Then it just got worse and worse. By age ten I was bullied a lot by people calling me ugly, fat, four-eyes, etc.
Then one day Jeanna and Chelsea came to my foster house and said, “Angel, there’s a family who wants to adopt you.” I felt so happy that I cried. It was amazing that some family out there wanted to adopt me. I thought I was never going to be adopted, but my prayers came true, and I was going to have a forever home! A home where a family inside waited for my arrival. A family that is waiting to see me and say, “Yep, she’s the one!”
Listen up people; if you think there is no hope for you in the future, you’re wrong. There is hope. Just believe me. Believe in yourself. Don’t worry about the future or the past, think about the present and be the best person you can be. There is a family waiting for you. Now let me tell you what a family is – a family is when you are loved, cared for, and adored. Families spend time together and so much more.
Adoption. It’s a strong word that has a deep meaning for me. Adoption is when you give a child in foster care a new chance at life, a new chance to be who they want to be, a chance to someday inspire other people. Everybody has a story. It might be a good or bad one, you never know. Don’t ever judge a book by its cover because you don’t know a person’s story or history. I was twelve when I was adopted by a wonderful family. My family is awesome – I now have four older brothers and a biological sister who was adopted by another family. We still keep in touch, and I love her very much. So give these kids a chance. You might be surprised at what a difference you make in their lives and yours!