From a young age, adoptive mother Shelley grasped a concept that some seem to struggle with—foster kids are just “normal” children.
When she was a little girl, her neighbor was a foster mother, so she frequently befriended the foster children and helped outwith the babies. Years later, Shelley remembered those experiences as she considered becoming a mother through adoption.
“I knew there were so many kids out there… good kids, in need of homes,” Shelley said.
With that in mind, Shelley and her husband decided that they would be a perfect fit to adopt a sibling group. After completing their training as foster-to-adopt parents, Shelley and her husband were eventually selected for 3 and 4-year-old sisters.
The day they met Emma and Anna at a neighborhood park, the family instantly clicked. The girls had been with an Arrow foster family prior to Shelley, and the foster parents, along with a counselor, had prepared them to meet their adoptive family. The oldest, Emma*, talked about wanting to come to Shelley’s house, and how she wanted her own mommy and daddy. She also insisted that she wanted a “princess family,” so as Shelley prepared Emma’s Life Book (a special scrap book for foster children), she wrote it as a fairy tale.
“It was just amazing,” Shelley said. “It was unreal. They were so perfect and ready.”
That’s not to say there weren’t obstacles.
Anna was a bit more scared and hesitant than her outgoing sister. However, Emma helped Anna with the transition and frequently reassured her. Additionally, Anna’s speech was delayed, so at first, she would grow frustrated when Shelley couldn’t understand her.
Now, her speech is on track, and she’s slowly coming out of her shell. Unlike her princess-obsessed sibling, Anna loves super heroes and especially Spider Man.
“To watch her personality grow has been one of the best things,” Shelley said. “She is so sweet, and so funny.”
Also, Emma has had to learn to accept boundaries. Before entering foster care, the girls were neglected, so Emma felt she was in charge. She also felt she had to stash food to reassure herself she and Anna would have something to eat.
Her Arrow foster family, counselors and adoptive family worked with Emma to make her feel safe, and now those things are no longer an issue.
It has been about two years since the family adopted the girls, and they are doing incredibly well. They’re smart, funny and well-adjusted, and Shelley feels lucky to have them in her life.
“Our case was a fairy tale,” she said.
*The girls’s names were changed to protect their privacy at the request of their family.