In spring 2010, Eric and Chad's case worker invited them to an “adoption party.” That's an informal event where prospective parents can meet older children awaiting adoption.
Forming a family
The DHS adoption party has a carnival atmosphere, with games and face-painting for the children. That's where Eric and Chad met two sisters, now ages 5 and 7, and their brother, now 10. The siblings were living in separate foster homes.
“We actually spent the majority of our time with them,” Eric said. “I guess when you know, you know. After that, we just started (supervised) visits with the kids at the park or at DHS.”
Over the course of three weeks in June 2010, the three children moved in with Eric and Chad.
Sheree Powell, a spokeswoman with DHS, said such “nonrelated” adoptions made up 14 percent of the agency's 1,382 adoptions last year.
Most adopted children under DHS care go to either relatives or foster parents.
Since the siblings came from three different foster homes, there were many changes for both parents and children.
“It was a lot of adjustment, a lot of learning,” Eric said. “They were three developed personalities. It's been a really good year. They complete milestones every day.”
“Before, it was just me and him and our dogs, that was our family,” Chad said. “Once we got kids, your life becomes centered around the kids. It's been for the better, and we actually enjoy it.
“Every time I hear them say, ‘Daddy,' it melts my heart.”
The couple has regular date nights and counts on friends and family for support. Facebook is a popular place for the couple to ask for advice about child development and discipline.
“I think our relationship is actually stronger now than when we started before, because there's so much more we have to be together on just to deal with the kids,” Eric said. “Whether it's discipline or homework, we have to tackle it together.”
Still, Eric and Chad said they were a little wary of how others would react to their new family.
“This is a very conservative state, but I have been pleasantly surprised that we have not had any negative feedback,” Eric said. “We've been lucky. They haven't been confronted with any negativity or any push back from anybody else that we've encountered.
“They've been encountered with very positive reinforcement and with loving arms, whether it's school or any of our social stuff. It's been a good experience with them.”