Many children are in need of a loving forever home — according to AdoptUSKids, there are more than 100,000 children in foster care, ranging in age from infants to 21-year-olds, waiting to be adopted in the United States. Of course, the issue also affects many children in Northeast Ohio, too. While it can be discouraging to think of these children in need, there is hope, as demonstrated by several local children and adoptive parents. In their own words, they tell us what adoption means and how it has changed their lives.
Jordan, Joy & Atiyah Stoller
The Stollers started their adoption journey in 2011 through private infant adoption. They adopted their first son, who passed away 18 months later due to a heart condition. They knew they wanted to grow their family again by adoption and in time, were prepared to adopt another child. While they initially planned to adopt an infant, Jordan and Joy said they were open to what God’s plan was for their lives. When they first were presented with the opportunity to be considered for Atiyah, 5, whose mother was voluntarily making an adoption plan, they were heartbroken to hear of all the heartache the child had endured. They didn’t plan for a 5-year-old, but they could feel God leading them to adopt this little girl who had already experienced many disappointments in life. From day one, Atiyah called Joy “Mom” and soon after was calling Jordan “Dad.” Jordan and Joy continue to demonstrate unconditional nurturing and commitment to their daughter in spite of the challenges, and are helping her grow to her full potential. The family was able to celebrate the adoption finalization of their daughter in October. They describe Atiyah as a precious little girl and state they are so thankful to have her as a part of their family. While they continue with the adjustment of their daughter into their home, this family looks forward to continuing to expand their family through adoption, in whatever way that may come to them.
Story submitted by Caring for Kids, Inc., cfkadopt.org
My parents met me at the hospital when I was one week old. When I was born, my muscles were really tight, and the doctors told my parents that I might not walk. I remember hearing stories of my mom and dad doing stretches with me every day to teach my brain to relax my muscles.
That was 12 years ago and now I am an athlete and a dancer. I am thankful for my adoptive family, but I also wish I could see my birth family more. My family and I made a special trip to meet them when I was 9, and I immediately felt at home and loved. I know that they are proud of me, too, and that makes me happy.
Story submitted by Adoption Network Cleveland, AdoptionNetwork.org
I was adopted from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, when I was 9 months old. I think adoption is awesome because you get a family. I think if I wasn’t adopted, I would be so sad because I would be stuck in an orphanage. I don’t remember anything from the orphanage because I was too young, but I think I wouldn’t have a nice house, or good food, or a nice family to love me.
I have had many surgeries since I was adopted, and I would not have had a chance to have good doctors and nurses who have taken good care of me if I didn’t get adopted. I also wouldn’t have my three sisters if I didn’t get a family. I’m so glad that I have a mom and dad who went halfway around the world to get me.
Submitted by mom, Kim Stahnke, and family
Angie & Ed Sedmak
(as told by Angie)
My husband and I battled unexplained infertility for five years before adopting our son, Milo. We were officially on the waiting list for one month before we received the amazing news that we had been chosen by a birth mom. One of the aspects of parenting that I was not prepared for is when on Nov. 19, 2012, his birth father placed him into my arms and I felt the immense emotion as I stared down at that perfect little baby boy, staring up at my face. So many tears were shed that day, each of them healing and melting away all of the pain and hardship of our journey to parenthood. We have not only gained a beautiful son, but an extended family consisting of Milo’s birth family through our open adoption.
Nicole, 19 (adopted at age 13)
When I met my forever parents, I knew that someday I wanted to be just like them. The impact they put on my life six years ago when they adopted me has changed me in a positive way forever.
Without my parents, I would’ve never graduated from high school and got the education I needed. My parents have shown me what it’s like to be loved and they always believe in me when I don’t believe in myself. I know that I can go to them for anything without living in fear. I could never, ever, in a million years repay them for what they’ve done for me.
Someday I want to adopt kids so I can be their support system just like my parents have done for me. Here I am, nine years after coming into foster care and I am living the full, happy life that every child deserves.
Story submitted by Caring for Kids, Inc., cfkadopt.org
Crystal King, Mylasha & Dayjana
Crystal King wanted to care for children who needed help, so she became a licensed foster-to-adopt parent with Summit County Children Services in August 2008. Since then, she has welcomed with an open heart and open mind more than 50 children into her home, including two sisters, Mylasha and Dayjana.
“I am happy now. To me, adoption means a new beginning with new experiences and opportunities,” Mylasha says.
“Adoption is the greatest thing that happened to me. I’m thankful that I was adopted and that someone cares for me,” Dayjana says.
Story submitted by Summit County Children Services, summitkids.org
When you’re adopted, you don’t have to move houses anymore. I’m able to have a lot more friends. I have all the food and clothes I need. I also have a roof over my head. There are a lot of people that love and care about me. If I have some problems, there are people that are able to help me. Now I know that I’m not really different from kids who aren’t adopted.”
Story submitted by OhioGuidestone, OhioGuidestone.org
Adoption makes a difference in my past, present and future. It means that someone who couldn’t take care of me gave me the gift of life, and that is special. I think it is fun to wonder about my birthland of Kyrgyzstan. I have seen a little bit in shows, magazines, my mom and dad’s videos and my adoption photo book.
Today, I am glad that adoption is real because I have a loving family with parents who take care of me. I have one little sister and two brothers to play with and share life. I have a big family full of grandmas, grandpas, cousins, aunts, uncles and two great-grandparents. We all love each other.
In the future, I would like to adopt a child so that I could raise him and love him as I have been loved. I hope I might be a missionary to orphans around the world. I have seen how some Kyrgyz people hunt with golden eagles and I hope one day I can go to my birthland and hunt that way, too.
I would like to meet my birth mother some day. I would say to her, “I miss you and I love you.” I love adoption and I am thankful for the life I have today.
Story submitted by parents Tim and Kim Lehr