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By Ann Nelson, adoptive parent in Swampscott               

Today, on National Adoption Day, my husband and I will adopt our second child. Our adoption story began 30 years ago when our two birth sons were seven and five-years-old, and we adopted a baby girl.  My husband, Nelson, and I are both social workers and spent the last forty years working with children.  Over the years we thought about adopting again but it never was the right time…the house is too small!…we’re both working…we’re busy with school and all sorts of activities…we have no money to send another child to college…the list went on and on.

I was definitely pushier, as Nelson will tell you, about adopting again.  I kept reading Sunday’s Child in the Boston Globe and watching “Wednesday’s Child” on WBZ-TV, and I wanted to take every child!  Finally, 2 ½ years ago, I read about a teenage boy in the Boston Globe. I tore out the column and started the campaign to convince Nelson that the time was finally right to adopt again.  There is never really a right time.  But there were kids waiting and we both decided we should give a teenager a home – because we could.   Trust me, convincing Nelson was hard, but convincing our children and friends was even harder.  We are supposed to be retiring, not taking in a teenager!

We heard the usual questions from family and friends, “What about their background?  Will they steal from you, or burn down our house?”  Two home studies and a Department of Children and Families (DCF) Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) training later, we were ready to find our new child.  We requested a teenage boy or girl to adopt, but initially there were several children presented to us who just did not seem to be a good match.  Of course, we felt awful saying no.  

When we found Shicoren we knew it was right.  We had both hoped it would be a boy and our daughter was thrilled to remain the only girl in the family.  We were ready to proceed, but Shicoren’s social worker, who had worked hard with him for several years, was at first not so sure it was the right fit. And Shicoren was also not so sure because he had a great foster mom.  We understood and we all worked together to address his concerns. Needless to say, we all took the leap of faith, which is exactly what adoption is.  Eighteen months later, we are adopting our son today.  He has made a fantastic adjustment to the family and our community.  He is a great young man.  And of course, he drives us crazy on occasion, but we also drive him crazy, I’m sure! But that is what families do.

When you are older parents, it’s easier not to get concerned about the small stuff and to look at the big picture.   After Shircoren lived with us for a short time, he mentioned to someone that he thought we took him in to save our marriage.  I told him that we had been married for 41 years and that that wasn’t the reason. He said, “Maybe it was because you had empty nest syndrome.”  I convinced him that neither of those were the reasons, as our children were grown and had left the house more than ten years earlier; we were used to the quiet.  We are adopting him because we feel that we can provide a loving, caring home.  We wanted him to know that he will always have a home and a family that supports him in his journey into manhood.   

With the newest addition to our family, we continue to have new opportunities. We are getting re-involved with our local schools and community.  Nelson is thrilled to be back watching another son play football…I, however, am not so thrilled to be sitting back in the cold bleachers on a Saturday afternoon! But we will sit together, as a family, on the cold bleachers and watch our son play football.

As social workers and experienced parents, this adoption has taught us a lot about ourselves. Having Shicoren has made me a better adoption worker.  I am more sensitive to listening to my clients and their needs.

We hope our story inspires people to adopt a teenager.  As Martin Luther King once said, “Take the first step in faith – you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

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