The Fish Family became a true family on May 10th, 2018. It was a long journey but it was worth it. Tamara (me!) worked for a private agency that assisted with contracted foster care case management. During a juvenile court day, an 11 year old young man attended his juvenile hearing and asked the Judge if he was allowed to ask his parents why they didn’t want him and if he would ever be able to see his sisters again. This young man had been in care since he was 8 years old. He had two younger sisters that had been adopted. He hadn’t seen them in 3 years and was very worried about them. I leaned over to my supervisor and said that I would adopt him. My supervisor told me I had to stop saying that about every kid. Something was different with this young man. I understood his feelings. I was in foster care and separated from my sister. I was adopted and she was not. I told my husband (Steven) about this young man and we decided to become a visiting resource for him.
Our first visit went really well. We went to see him every weekend for two months. He then was officially placed in our home. We had so many ups and downs. Our young man struggled to realize we weren’t going to give up on him. He had been through 8 traditional foster homes, 4 hospitalizations and 3 residential facilities before he came to us. His expectation was at the first sign of trouble he would be sent away. After a year of him learning that we don’t send kids away because they have behavior or get in trouble at school things began to change for him. It wasn’t perfect. There were plenty of days where the family struggled with frustration or anger.
We got the phone call that our foster son was going to become our adopted son! He was certain that after he was adopted everything would be amazing. We sat down as a family and explained that just because you are adopted it doesn’t change the things we experienced and it won’t fix our trauma. We had a long road to learning our best techniques for success.
Our adoption day came. Our son Aiden Fish came home that day and pledged he was a new boy. The next week he got in trouble at school. I went and picked him up and on the drive home he said ” I know… I know… we don’t send kids away when they make a poor choice… we work through it as a family because that is what a family does”. I couldn’t smile because he was in trouble but when we got home I went to my room and cried happy tears. He was finally feeling like a real member of the family and understanding that adoption doesn’t fix problems but he had a support network to help him through it. Aiden is 17 years old now and he says it feels like he has always been a part of our family. He knows we love him unconditionally.