Two Heart-Warming Foster-to-Adopt Stories…With a Twist
Article from The Voice, DCCH Center for Children and Families newsletter, Fall 2003
This could be another boy-meets-girl story. Or another feel-good story about three kids finding foster-to-adopt families or an in-law joke laced with all the tired old clichés.
It’s ALL of those …and so much more!
Jessica Barrowman and Chris Klosinski both had an affinity for children, especially those with special needs. Consequently, Jessica became a Child Care Worker at DCCH and Chris was formerly the Recreation Director at the Home. They met while transporting residents to Anger Management class in Covington. True love bloomed and they said their vows on a warm beach in Florida June 6th of this year.
Shortly before Jessica and Chris came to work at DCCH, the Home instituted its Therapeutic Foster Care Program. This program extended the continuum of care beyond a child’s discharge from the residential treatment center. Children needed to be placed with families in the community. Of course, the shortage existed on the demand side of the equation so Jessica and Chris became true ambassadors for our kids.
Not only did the Klosinski and Barrowman parents gain another son or daughter-in-law; they also made room for more children in each of their households! This is their story…
Chris’ parents, Jerry and Barb Klosinski had raised two sons. Their household was filled with the usual chaos that could be expected with two rough-and-tumble boys. Eventually, when Chris signed on at DCCH Center for Children and Families, he invited his father to help out at several recreational outings.
One of the residents was a young, African-American boy named Cory. Chris and Cory had similar personalities; thus Cory was one of Chris’s favorites, often taking Cory home for visits. Chris wanted Cory, now 13, in a stable, permanent family. Unbeknownst to Jerry, Chris began to talk to his mother about fostering-to-adopt. Barb gave thoughtful consideration to the idea and said in the final analysis it all came down to one question, “What excuse do I have not to do it?” Barb wasn’t yet ready to relinquish her role as mother to young sons and so, with a true measure of diplomacy, mother and son began to plant seeds with dad. Jerry agreed to begin the process of fostering-to-adopt in 2001. On May 28, 2003, less than a week before Chris’s wedding, the Klosinski family became the first family to complete an adoption through DCCH!
Like the Klosinskis, Bruce and Tracy Barrowman had never considered expanding their family. Unlike the Klosinskis, however, females were in the majority their household. Jessica is the oldest of their three daughters.
It was not unusual for Jessica to bring children home from DCCH. On Thanksgiving 2001, Jessica brought Rick home for the holiday, as he had nowhere else to go. Bruce remembers one particular incident during their first meeting with their future adopted child. During that initial visit Rick spilled some Kool-Aid. Observing the look of horror on the young boy’s face in anticipation of the violent tantrum Rick expected to follow; Bruce’s heart went out to him. Tracy recalls following that evening, Bruce could not stop talking about Rick. Christmas came and another visit was scheduled. This afforded Rick and Bruce some one-on-one time.
Bruce and Tracy wanted to become volunteers for Rick at the Home, but were thwarted. Rick’s natural brother was already with a foster family and there was a reluctance to separate the siblings. Also, another foster-to-adopt family was undecided as to whether they would foster these boys or another sibling group.
Easter of that year brought another visit, this time at DCCH. Bruce was consumed with the idea that he wanted to do more for Rick. He and Tracy prayed for God’s will in forming Rick’s life. By now, Rick had lost that look of fear he exhibited on Thanksgiving. Visits became a weekly occurrence. When Rick’s brother became eligible for the Barrowman’s consideration; they again went through discussion and prayer, hoping to find room in their hearts and home for two brothers in need of nurturing. They met Drew for the first time through sibling visits in August 2002. Rick became the Barrowman’s foster child in August 2002. Drew followed suit in July 2003. The parents hope to have both adoptions complete in February 2004.
Similarities between the families
Although the circumstances were different for these in-law families, there were some things in common during the foster-to-adopt process.
- Both had connections to the Home and our residents through their children.
- Neither family thought about fostering nor adopting before Chris and Jessica came to work at DCCH.
- Both sets of parents are convinced that Cory and Rick were the driving force for these life-altering decisions, not Chris and Jessica.
- Both knew when they entered the fostering process that the final outcome would ultimately be adopting this child.
- Both had the experience of caring for an elderly relative long before they considered adoption.
Taking on a new sibling
With Rick and Drew coming to the Barrowmans at different times, Jessica is at two different stages in regard to her relationship with them. Rick already feels like a brother. He is a part of the family and it seems as if he has always been there. Jessica and Rick don’t discuss their common history at the Home, although sometimes Rick’s life prior to DCCH does surface. One of Jessica’s concerns continues to be dealing with Rick when he has a behavior incident. Her training at the Home dictates how she should handle the situation, but she knows to be cautious. Now Rick is her parents’ child. While Jessica has feelings for Drew, the second of the siblings to join the family, she realizes that relationship will have opportunities for growth.
Chris has been a big brother to Cory right from the start. They are so close that when Cory gets upset with his adoptive parents, Chris feels like “smackin’ him!” Chris and Cory often speak fondly of DCCH and enjoy their shared memories.
Advice to prospective foster-to-adopt families
According to Tracy, don’t expect to protect your privacy. The therapy, paperwork and mounds of red tape are all part of the process. No personal detail is left unexamined. She said, “Don’t just expect to get the child when you make the commitment to foster-to-adopt.” Even though the process is lengthy, she understands how necessary it is to fully examine all of the details.
Bruce noted that children in the family must be part of the decision process. Other family members will impact the success of the placement. Their youngest daughter worried that her standing as the “baby” was threatened by the arrival of two new brothers. Perhaps there would be less attention given to her. Bruce and Tracy try to divide quality time among all of their children, realizing new family members can be very demanding.
Jerry concurs. His entire family was committed to the decision. The process was slow, but it gave Cory a chance to become acclimated to the Klosinski family. Jerry’s frustration mainly centered on his perception that he was continually questioned in regard to his family’s commitment. He was also concerned that he did not have complete control over Cory’s care, such as the medications Cory was taking. It seemed to Jerry that Cory was fine without them. Those with the authority over such decisions, however, thought otherwise. Barb mentioned that patience is required for both the process and the child.
What is in it for them?
Tracy: It feels good to be needed. I think that I am good as a mother.
Bruce: I have a greater sense of worth. I can do something that will help.
Barb: It is good to see Cory’s progress. Any little sign is a victory.
Jerry: Having Cory is like continuing my family of boys.
Bruce closed our interview with the quote from a song by Christian singer and song writer, Michael W. Smith“It may not be the smart thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.” We at DCCH disagree with Mr. Smith. We think it’s not only the right thing to do but incredibly smart as well!