“I adopted a teen just 10 days after we met him”
Courtesy Jeff M. Miller
Joy Miller first met Logen when he called WAY Alliance, a non-profit she runs that helps teens transition out of foster care. “At first glance, he was just a 17-year-old kid who’d run away from his foster home that we were trying to keep from being homeless,” she recalls. But the teenager had already lived through a lifetime’s worth of troubles: He’d been adopted once and then relinquished, did a stint (unfairly, Joy says) in the juvenile justice system, and had endured five out-of-home placements. And now, after years of turmoil, the system was going to just spit him out on the streets on his 18th birthday.
She knew she had to help him. At first, she was simply trying to find him a safe place to stay while he figured out his next move. Unfortunately, all the shelters were full, and she couldn’t find anyone who would take him, until her parents volunteered. Joy, her husband, Jeff, and their four children got to know Logen while he stayed there for a few days.
Then something strange and incredible happened. “As we continued to work on getting Logen’s housing figured out, I soon started getting the feeling—a very strong feeling—that Logen wasn’t supposed to go anywhere,” she says. “That he was actually supposed to stay with us. That he was supposed to be part of our family.”
After discussing it with the rest of the family, Joy and Jeff made their adoption offer to Logen, who was 18 and legally an adult by then. At first, he seemed unsure, but then he enthusiastically accepted, and five months after first meeting, they stood in front of a judge and did an adult adoption—an easy process that only cost them $350, she adds.
Eight months after being adopted, Logen felt secure enough to move into his own apartment and is doing great. He’d weaned himself off all of his psychiatric medications, gotten a job, and enrolled in welding school. The thing that made all of that possible? Knowing he will always have a home and family when he needs them.
“It’s so important for people to realize that teens, even those who are over 18, need a family just as much as an eight-year-old,” Joy says. Adult adoption is a seldom-discussed topic, but it happens more than you think, like with this woman who was adopted at 41 years old.
“Our adoption story may have tragedy in it, but it is ultimately one of love and success”
Courtesy Laurie A. Couture
Laurie A. Couture adopted her son, Brycen, in 2005, when he was 11, from the foster care system. He had suffered severe abuse, neglect, loss, and trauma, and had lived in at least two residential facilities and up to 13 different foster and respite homes before finding his forever family with her. Yet, despite all the challenges, the pair immediately bonded, she says.
Due to his early experiences, Brycen was disabled by severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with dissociative features and by Reactive Attachment Disorder; he was also on the autism spectrum. To give him the intensive attention, love, and involvement that he desperately needed, Laurie decided to homeschool him. She soon learned that Brycen was a loving, exceptionally bright, and creative child, and through that love and attention, he became eager to learn and to help others.
“Brycen was a passionate musician, songwriter, and artisan, and I built my career and my life around his many projects, events, and live performances,” she says. “He started his first business at age 12 and later sold his handcrafted medieval chain mail. He was brilliant and had insights beyond his years.”
But he was also still haunted by his past traumas. Brycen was stable for many years but began to deteriorate after a series of difficult events, social pressures, and unhealthy contacts, Laurie says. Eventually, overwhelmed by everything, on September 27, 2017, he ended his own life. He was just 23 years old. (Did you know that young men are the highest risk group for suicide? It’s just one of the 14 things therapists want you to know about suicide.)
Even in this tragedy, Laurie finds light. “Our family and community was shattered by his loss, but I know Brycen is no longer haunted by the traumas he suffered,” she says. “My son’s adoption story may have tragedy in it, but I believe, and always will, that it was a successful and happy adoption.”
“We were told we were too old to adopt”
Courtesy Sally Lewer Ahern
When deciding which family gets to adopt a child, there are many rules, and they can vary between countries, adoption agencies, and even from situation to situation, according to Adoption.org. But one thing is fairly consistent: In most places, including the United States, age matters, and often younger couples are preferred—something that Sally Lewer Ahern and her husband Mark Ahern discovered when they tried to adopt in their 40s.
“We were very limited with regard to which countries we could adopt a child from,” she says. “Still, when our adoption agency called and asked if we were interested in adopting a child from Guatemala, my first response was, ‘Where is Guatemala?’ and then, ‘How do you spell that?’”
But the Melbourne, Australia, couple quickly became very excited about adopting Carlos, a boy who’d been surrendered by his birth mother because she had six other children and couldn’t afford to keep him. “It was heartbreaking. His birth mother was earning just $25 (USD) per month to feed her family,” Sally explains. “No mention was ever made of his birth father.”
Even though they’d known about Carlos since he was two days old, due to government regulations, they weren’t allowed to adopt him until he was three. On July 17, 2000, they went to pick him up from the orphanage.
“I still remember that first meeting—it was so surreal,” Sally says. “I had so many emotions. Since he was old enough to know his world was changing, I worried if he would like us or if he would be frightened. And then there he was, and suddenly we were all laughing and crying. It was the best kind of crazy.”
At the time, Carlos only spoke Spanish and his parents spoke English, but the love they had for him bridged the gap. “As with any family, with either biological or adopted children, we have had our hiccups along the way, but they’ve been small things,” Sally says. Today, Carlos is a thriving, successful 22-year-old who is still very close to his parents.
“Quite simply, Carlos is the best thing that has ever happened to us,” she says. “Because of Carlos, we went from being a couple to becoming a family—a multicultural family—and we three couldn’t be happier together.”
Sally has written a book about her adoption experience, Adoptive Mother 101. And here’s a different type of moving account about one mother who helped her adopted son accept his “missing piece.”