Hi I’m Michael and I’m Tyrone and we are living in Lexington Kentucky and we have two children in our family that we created through foster care.
Michael: Let me start by saying I am adopted myself. And when we kind of first got together I always said that I wanted children, I wanted to adopt because I was adopted and I feel like adopted children are special because they are chosen and I wanted to pay it back, so I told him that I always wanted to adopt children just in passing if this where going to proceed in something more serious this would be a part of the conversation. When my parents came to visit, my dad basically we had our first conversation about coming out. You know, I was out here but my parents are from Oklahoma. So when they came to visit so I was like this is it, this is the conversation. And my dad just took me outside and he told me that he loved me and that He raised me to be a man and I had become to be the man he wanted me. He wanted us to be careful and he was proud, glad that I found somebody to be with and to love. And in his last part of the conversation he said: I don’t care what you got do but I want some grand babies so you need to take care of business.
Tysone: I always wanted to have children, however I never thought that I would. So once that conversation came up we just kind of started trying to figure out if we wanted to do that how we could make it happen so that’s kind of where we started, trying to figure out if it was possible and how we could go about doing it.
Michael: We bought books and tried to figure out how we would make it happen: if we would do surrogacy with friends or try international adoption. They where so many options and we did not know which way to turn.
Michael: Well she asked if we had ever thought about adopting through the foster care program and we really didn’t know anything about it. It was never anything that was put on the table or that we had thought about and what she gave us some basic information, she gave us a phone number to call just to see if we were interested in taking the classes, to see what we wanted to do and we just called. Once we found out that we had to commit to the time to do it, we really talked about it before we really committed, if we could commit and if we really wanted to start our family because it was kind of quick. You know so we decided to go ahead and follow through and see where that led us.
Tysone: Well I think we went to Cincinnati in January or February because it was cold and we came back and made the calls and they told us when the next class was going to be starting. So we were able to get in to the next class of foster care, which was, I think May. It was pretty fast.
Michael: The first night we went, the classes where like once a week for 6oclock to 9 o’clock at night. The first class we went to had about 40 people in it. They basically give you an overview about your commitment to go into all your classes, which was a 6-week class I think. We had to commit to beening in every class. Then they talk about people in your family and how all of the adults in your household had to come to the class and you know they just talked about set up, what to expect during the whole process the things you needed to have done like criminal checks and certain things to be done. Well at the next class we went I guess over half of them didn’t show back up through because after they went through the requirement and what they had to expect, people just kind of disappear.
Michael: About 8 hours or ? Yes.
Tysone: A family member, they located a family member for him, so they called and said we have a family member that is picking him up, so we just had to deliver him over to the cabinet.
Michael: And at that point we kind of set back and asked if this was something we really wanted to do, can we handle it. Of course after taking a short breather for a day. We just decided to keep on going cause we know we want a family. We just have our expectation to high of children.
Tysone: We did get another call probably two or three weeks after that. At this time it was a sibling group, a 2 years old boy and a 6-month girl. For two people who have never had any children, or never had any new born like that. We were learning trying error with that. It worked out good and we really fell in love with those two kids and after a short time they were with us another family member came forward. They were with us for about 6 month.
It was lonely. You don’t realize you are going to fall in love with the little kids that quick but we really did. We were heart broken when they left. However they were in the same town and the relative that took them wanted us to continue to see them so it made it easier for us.
Michael: It kind of happened before Christmas time, so you know it was really…, it was rough.
Michael: At the end of February 2008, we got, well I got the call at work that there was an infant at the hospital, 2 weeks old and that was ready to be discharged. And they were needing a home for her and so I said well I need to call Tyrone and we are going to talk about it and then we are going to call you on a three-way and will discuss this together. They usually called me because I am the actual foster parent because in Kentucky, you know each of us because we are single people and gay marriage is not legal in Kentucky, we each had to have are own separate foster homes and approvals for each of us separately so after we had the placement for the sibling group they called me again because the other group was in my name as well, so they just called me again. He really had never had a placement in his name because he was only going to be the household. They called me again and once we talked about it and discussed it they said that this was something that we would might be interested in because we were foster to adopt, the person had had some children removal before and they didn’t think that the children would have anybody to go with and so the placement would be something good for us to build our family. Actually it turned out that way.
Tyrone: Well I was nervous, actually a little anxious and a little concerned. My question was how do we know there are no other family member and just trying to get some of those questions answered. I don’t actually remember what my first thought was. But somehow we agreed upon it.
Michael: Well I remember when I called and told you they had another placement I remember that you were a little quiet at first.
Tyrone: I was probably on the floor but … The baby yes… A newborn baby from the hospital.
Michael: And it was a preemie too. She was two month premature and we were you know, we never had… the other children she was 6 month and he was 2 years old. I didn’t know anything about birthing no babies we didn’t know anything. Doctor Spot? does not prepare you for a baby.
Tyrone: We picked p a 4 pound little girl from the hospital.
Michael: It was a very eye opening experience we should say. We were very nervous. The day they called we had to go out that day and of course we had a crib already for the child but we did not have a car seat or anything, we had to go that day and get a car seat and actually I think we bought something that we should not have bought probably. It was the kind not with a stroller, it was just a car seat.
Tyrone: Yeah, we went through a bunch of learning trying to figure out what we needed. We probably purchased I don’t know how many car seats and how many strollers before we figured out the right combination.
Michael: Yeah cause I mean we just went and picked her up, you know it took us about… It was in the evening after work. You have to go and I held her for about 10 minutes and then they do a car seat test and you have to watch a shacking baby movie and then they said goodbye.
Tyrone: We did have an interruption with that 4-pound Gabrielle that we picked up we had a relative come forward.
Michael: We got her in February and the relative came in may from another state.
Tyrone: We had to go through the process while they checked the relative’s background make sure if the relative was going to be a good placement. So from May to November is what it took for them to get everything approved for this relative to get her.
Michael: You know during that whole time we were taking care of the child and we kind of fell in love with her even though we kind of knew that she was leaving but we were hopping that she wasn’t. We wanted to keep her but you know but of course we do understand, they tell you from the beginning that the cabinet’s goal is the reunifications of the family so you know what can you do. We knew we wanted to have a family but they have a family too.
It’s funny kind of during the process we also did respite for two other children that they’re adoption had disrupted and a couple of days into the respite we were asked if we “do to adopt these children?” We were handed these children, two year old and 4 year old and just basically here you go. so we talked about it because we had the baby I didn’t want to give the baby up for the other children. And then we didn’t know if we wanted three children at one time because it was rough enough during the respite period. So, we eventually said no to the other children because we wanted to see what was going to happen with Gabrielle. And then when she ends up leaving we said oh we missed that chance with the other two kids what have we done, what did we do.
Michael: She left in November and then we closed our home for a while so we could grieve. We decided to open our home back up in April the next year 2009 and we had also planed vacations with a couple of friends to Savannah to hang out for a weekend or whatever. Well the week of the trip that we were leaving, on April 13th I got a phone call at work and my worker was like, ok Michael are you sitting down? Are you sitting down? I was like ok what is going on? And she said well Gabrielle is back in town and she needs a placement immediately and I was like “say what now!” She said that she was back in town but didn’t have any other information. So I said well let me hang up from you right now and let me call Ty. So we had to talk about it and basically as soon as I said that she was back he said we need to go get her and so we called her back and said we didn’t want her to start over with another foster parent we didn’t know how long it was going to be, what was going to happen or what had happened in the process but we would go ahead and take her.
So that day we went to pick her up and when we got there to the cabinet she was asleep in the car seat and we sat up in front of her while we were signing up the paper work and talking. She woke up, well she took one look at me and the closed her eyes, opened up her eyes again looked at Tyrone and closed her eyes and opened back up again she closed her eyes, she looked at both of us again and she started reaching and crying it was just … I can’t even explain the feeling that we felt to have her recognize us and to know who we are and to be back in our lives.
After that evening, we got a phone call; it was Gabrielle’s worker who actually we had worked with before with our sibling group placement before it was the same person. She said how is everything going? I said yes I just want to know what is going on? And actually the relative placement that Gabrielle had had, had gotten sick and got a stroke in Chicago where they were living and her family could not take care of her in Chicago so they sent her back here with other family members and those family members couldn’t care for her either or did not want to take it on they had had some other things happen in their lives and she said well we are going to put her back in the cabinet and they called told her that they liked her to be with us and that if she did go up for adoption the only thing they wanted to do was have some visitation with her occasionally They wanted her to be with us. And she said it was permanent and we are going to make this adoption happen.
Tyrone: I was relieved knowing that we were not going to have to go through her leaving again.
I guess we received a call for Debin. It came by himself.
Michael: It was actually … like no time after Gabrielle’s adoption we closed our home to celebrate a little bit but we opened back up so we were hopping for one child but it had been so long since we had had another placement. Right after our adoption they did not call for a long time just we were open but we didn’t receive any calls for placements. And then right before we were going to close our home in 2011 like we said if we don’t get a placement by Christmas 2011 we are going to close in January and leave it like that. Well right at the begin of January they called for one Child and it was Debin. He came on as an emergency removal in de middle of the evening.
Tyrone: They took each other right from the back. I guess Gaby she was like a little baby cause he was so small when he came, but she wanted to hug him or hold him and he was not crying or anything. He was a very happy baby. It worked out very good.
Michael: With Debin it was a lot easier, the whole process. His mother had had 6 other children removed, and she got ill right after his removal, she went to the hospital. The workers tried to establish visits with her but she said she thought it was going to be to hard for Debin to see her so she never saw him again after the removal. She did not start visits or do anything. When she got out of the hospital she disappeared for a little while and they eventually found her and she decided immediately to terminate her rights. The dad on the other hand was incarcerated at the time. He hadn’t seen Debin since he was about 3 month. Debin’s brothers and sisters where placed with their paternal grandmother. And the father wanting the grandmother to take Debin too but she was an older lady who was like I have a 3 year old and a 4 year old and I’m 65 and I can’t do that. So she basically said no and the judge finally asked him what he wanted to do and he terminate his rights within the same year that we had received him. Both parents terminated by the end of the year.
Then we went to the process the next year of getting everything completed so we could adopt him by the next year and it took about 10 month.
Best decision I could have ever made for myself and my partner Tyrone. It is a wonderful feeling, waking them up every day and getting their hugs that we get every day. I love them unconditionally. They are my joy. It feels awesome. It feels awesome to be able to help them from the situation that they were in because when I think about where they where and where they could be its kind of heart breaking. I’m glad we were able to provide them with a home a special place for them to learn love.
Every Child deserves a family.
There are more than 400,000 youth in the foster care system. 100,000 of them are available for adoption today. Learn more about how you can help open more homes for youth in foster care. Urge your Members of Congress to support The Every Child Deserves a Family Act and let’s help youth in care find their forever home.