Success Stories

Success Stories

My partner and I had been together for over five years before we contacted Common Sense about adoption. It was hard making that first phone call, worrying that we might be rejected before we could even get in to talk to someone. A really caring, experienced adoption professional talked to us that very same day that I called and was very welcoming and encouraged us to come in to learn more. I think that what we appreciated most was the openness and honesty about which barriers to adoption were real and which ones were just not true. We were encouraged to research the various options and honestly, none were considered off limits for us.

Together with our adoption worker, we worked out a training program that took into account both our work schedules and also what we did and didn’t know about adoption and foster care. We were really motivated to move ahead with starting our family, so we were glad not to have to attend weekly classes. We read, studied online, and talked to other adoptive parents non-stop for several weeks and were ready for our home study in record time.

The time spent preparing ourselves for adoption was well worth it. We didn’t waste time on adoption or foster programs that were going to take forever or not really work for us and felt very confident that we were ready for bringing a child into our home. Our first adoption took a little longer than we thought it should, and looking back, we were probably terrible pests about the wait which was only a year. There were some ups and downs as we worked with the child welfare system to get our first daughter, but we now look back on them as having been mostly insignificant challenges considering how great it is to have her. Our second adoption seemed to go much more smoothly, though probably mostly because we had a more reasonable expectation of those we were working with.

We would encourage all families to take the risk of calling for more information even if you think you might not be accepted by an adoption agency. At Common Sense, they will be honest with you about all aspects of the process—and we really appreciate that. They told us honestly what waiting times and costs were likely to be and then left it up to us to decide what program best suited us. We love parenting and are grateful for all the encouragement and acceptance we have gotten, and for the continuing support whenever we need to call someone.

My life was pretty full. I had a great job, friends, plenty of hobbies, and a large family so there were lots of nieces and nephews to take camping or on special adventures. But as a single adult, I felt like there was still something missing. I wanted to make a deeper commitment to someone, and why not a kid who needed a family?

I didn’t think anyone would consider me, but when I talked with the people at Common Sense, they welcomed me with open arms! I decided to spend some time getting some adoption coaching, just to be clear about my motives and how this commitment would change my life.

In the end, we decided to look for kids who were waiting for a permanent home through the foster care system. At first I thought it was taking forever! We looked at many different kids. Some kids had pretty significant behavioral problems that I didn’t feel ready to handle. Others got adopted by their foster parents or couples who got chosen instead of me.

But finally the right little guy came along and everything went perfectly after that. He has some developmental delays that cause him to be labeled “special needs,” but I just see them as challenges that we’ll meet together. I actually love figuring out how to get him special services or how to rearrange our home so he can move around more easily. We have great games that turn his physical and occupational therapies into adventures. Being a single parent is the single most rewarding thing I have ever done!

We knew when we got married that we wouldn’t be able to have kids born to us. For years we talked about how we wanted to build our family. My wife really wanted the experience of having a baby, but I wasn’t sure that mattered to me so much. We knew there were children out there in need of a home, but the idea of adopting an older child scared us.

When we contacted Common Sense, they listened to all of our concerns and outlined the pros and cons of various types of adoptions. Before that, we felt a little guilty about only wanting a baby that would look like us, and were sure it couldn’t happen and would cost a fortune!

What we finally decided is that having a baby was important to us, and it was worth investing some time and money to do what was right for us. Our daughter arrived in our arms about a year and a half after we first started our home study, and she has been a joy! Now I’m the one loving every second of being a parent—even the midnight feedings and sleepless nights.

People often worry about meeting the birth parents—and we were a little unsure about that at first—but it was the best thing we did. It gave us a real sense of how much our daughter’s mother loved her, and we know we gave her some peace of mind once she saw that we cared about her as well as her baby. We don’t stay in touch with her much, just pictures and cards now and then through the agency, but we know it eases her loss to know she did the right thing.

Some of our friends and family wondered about the costs associated with an infant adoption.  It wasn’t cheap, but then we point out that payments for infertility treatments are costly as well. We also found that we were both working, spending money on trips, cars, our house—all things that wouldn’t bring us the joy of parenthood. We were careful to make sure we were working with a reputable agency, and in the end think we made a great investment in our family.

We just assumed we would be married a couple years and then start our family.  What a shock when it didn’t happen! We went through all sorts of infertility tests and treatments, and still nothing happened. It was truly a very unpleasant roller coaster ride for both of us.

Eventually we decided to look into adoption. We contacted a number of agencies before deciding to go with Common Sense. What we liked about them was that we could invest in some coaching while we sorted through our sense of anger and loss at not being able to have children the way we always imagined. We also liked the fact that whatever program we decided on, we could keep working with the same agency we came to know so well. We felt like they really got to know us and would stick by us no matter what we decided to do.

I thought we would probably be looking at infant adoptions, but my husband and I were both surprised to find out that we were really more interested in adopting somewhat older kids. We eventually adopted internationally, and what a wonderful world this has opened up for us.

Our first boys came from South America. We started off thinking we wanted a baby or toddler, and then we saw these boys and fell in love! Their adjustment to a new country, language, and culture was amazingly smooth, and in the process we saw a part of the world we never knew much about. I think the learning has been mutual—these are great guys who still have a terrific bond with each other.

That adoption worked so well we decided to go again. Since countries keep changing their rules on whether or not they are even doing adoptions, we had to start doing research all over again for our Asian siblings. We traveled a little longer this time, but again it was worth the trip. The boys have been great big brothers and we are now considering whether to adopt again.

We are on our way to becoming a real international family and to meeting our goal of having a large family—just not getting there the way we first thought we would!

Fostering and adoption has been a family tradition for us. Our parents were foster parents when we were growing up, so it was natural that my sisters and I would do the same—sort of an expectation that we would open our homes like that.

My older sister has fostered for years and just loves the challenge. She thrives on seeing kids come to her and recover from whatever brought them into care in the first place. She is a natural teacher, social worker, and nurturer and I think she gives as much to the birth parents of her foster kids as she does to the children themselves. She and her husband love the challenge of helping families get reunited, and she has this whole extended family of former foster kids and their parents who have stayed connected over the years.

My baby sister also followed the family tradition. She has only had a few kids in her home over the years, mostly for short stays to give other foster families a break—something called respite care. But every so often she has taken a baby or a toddler that ended up not being able to go back home. She has now ended up adopting one of those babies and might adopt a second one.  These kids are just as much a part of our family as the ones born into it—what a blessing they all bring!

Now about me. I really didn’t see myself being able to take on some of the things my sisters did. For one thing, I am single and have a career that is important to me. I don’t stay home much, and I really don’t want to be tied down to a baby. Many of the older kids seem to have a lot of special needs, especially with behavioral issues, and I just didn’t want to get into that.

Then I met my son! He came to my sister’s for a week of respite from his foster family and he and I “clicked” immediately. He is certainly older than I ever would have considered adopting—I mean, I don’t see myself as old enough to have a 14 year old son!  But he is just a great kid. I then learned that he is legally free for adoption, but his foster family isn’t interested in adopting him. So now I am getting approved to become a foster/adoptive parent to this wonderful boy who will become my son.

We had our family young and raised a good set of kids. Once they were all out of the house, we started talking about what to do next with our lives. It finally came to us that what we like best is being parents, and we are pretty good at it.

At first we didn’t think anyone would consider us because of our age, but we came to Common Sense and they were very encouraging. We didn’t know that much about fostering and adopting out of the foster care system, so we needed a lot of education. It really helped that there weren’t any set classes because my husband has a really crazy work schedule. Instead, they met with us and helped us design a training program that we could do online or by reading ourselves or by taking community classes. This really helped us to learn, and now we can help teach some of the new folks coming into this work.

Common Sense is really great at working with county agencies that want to place kids so that we have a lot of say about whether or not a child is likely to fit into our home. Like, we really have a lot of experience with boys, but teenage girls are not where we are at our best. We have been surprised to get some boys younger than we expected, but that just gives us a chance to have fun with them.  We have had the chance to become the permanent home for some of our boys and in each case that has felt right to us. Adopting older kids is perfect for us. They fit into our lifestyle, and we know how to help prepare them for the real world.

Meet the O'Brien Family