Like many couples today, Melody and Gary King of Savannah didn’t jump into parenthood right after marriage. After exchanging ‘I do’s', the couple spent several years living internationally while Gary served in the military. Upon returning the States, the couple continued to relish their carefree lifestyle. They built busy careers, while staying active by running or working out at the gym. Weekends were spent on their hobby – riding motorcycles.
As the Kings both neared their mid-thirties, they felt the time was right to add a child to their lives. While Melody had often dreamed of adopting a child, she quickly the reality overwhelming: substantial financial costs, waiting time, and the emotional stress involved in adopting.
After exploring several private avenues for adopting, Melody and Gary became frustrated when they seemed to get nowhere. Through their research, the Kings learned of another path to adoption – adopting a child who has been placed in Foster Care by the Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS).
That’s when Melody and Gary called Lutheran Services of Georgia.
The Adoption Journey Begins
“We were nervous about what they were getting into, but we felt like we had reached the end of a road,” says Melody “It was either adopt or give up.”
When they learned about the many older children in Foster Care waiting to be adopting, the Kings decided that this was how they wanted to add to their family.
“We really didn’t think about children until we were older, and I’ve never been a baby person,” she says. The couple considered their active lifestyle and decided that an older child would fit into their lifestyle more easily than an infant.
The Kings were put in touch with LSG’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter Tacarra Hayes.
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is a program that is part of the Dave Thomas Adoption Fund. Through grants provided by Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, Lutheran Services of Georgia employs two Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters, who use a child-center approach to recruiting. WWK recruiters often focus on older children or sibling groups in Foster Care – kids that are often harder to place than single children or infants and toddlers.
Tacarra started the process quickly by sending the Kings a few profiles of children who were in Foster Care and eligible for adoption. When they read Jessica’s profile, they immediately wanted to meet her.
After the Kings met Jessica, they were in agreement - they wanted Jessica to join their family. Jessica finished out the school year living with her foster family, but spent her weekends with Melody and Gary.
Jessica joined her new family full-time that summer, and in December her adoption was finalized.
A New Life for the Kings
Until joining the King’s family, Jessica wasn’t a particularly active kid. Like many teenagers she preferred videos games to exercise. But with Melody’s encourage Jessica began running with her and getting in shape. Jessica just recently joined her school’s soccer team, which has now become her passion.
In addition to love of soccer, Jessica is a typical teenage girl – indulging in celebrity gossip, hair, and make-up, and of course, shopping.
“With adopting a teenager, every day is a new test for learning about each other and how we work together as a family…” says Melody. “There is never a dull moment. Every day I wake and just wonder, “what will happen today? That may seem scary for some people, but scary can also be exciting and this is how you have to approach these situations.”
Melody’s Advice to Adoptive Parents
When asked what advice she’d give those considering adopting an older child, Melody says, “Adopting an older child is not for the faint of heart. They have a personality of their own, they have habits from their previous life that you may not agree with, but they are children in need of parents.”
She says that others were worried for her – that it would be hard to love an older child or feel a strong mother-daughter bond.
“You were not born loving your spouse, you fell in love with them. There may be times when you dislike what they do, but you love them regardless. Earning the love of a children through adoption is harder that having that biological bond, but you will learn that. That kind of love is so much stronger than what people give it credit for.”
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