Scottsdale mom: Why we grew our family through foster-care adoption

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Amy Carney (center), smiles at her son as she and husband Keith conclude their child’s courtroom adoption ceremony on National Adoption Day 2016.

Each Wednesday when I picked up the Arizona Republic, I would read stories of kids who were eligible for adoption. I found myself captivated by the Wednesday’s Child profiles of children in Arizona’s foster care system. Through no fault of their own, they were living without their families.

As a mother raising four children, the harsh realities of these young lives tugged at my heart. I was drawn to the weekly narratives, yet I wasn’t sure I could help. Or could I?

I continued to read the stories until I could no longer ignore the fact that our family must help. A child somewhere needed me to stop feeling bad for his or her situation and instead bravely step up and open our home and hearts.

That was five years ago. For plenty of reasons, it was probably not the best time to foster or adopt a child. My husband, Keith, was often out of town for his job, leaving me alone to manage our busy family. Our triplet sons and younger daughter were in elementary school and involved in various sports and after-school activities. How could I take on another child?

There was no doubt life was hectic, but there was also no denying we had enough love in our hearts and room in our home for a child who needed us. It was necessary to move beyond the excuses and circumstances that kept us in our comfort zone.

Keith and I attended an Aid to Adoption of Special Kids orientation class to learn the different ways our family could help a child in the foster care system. Could we mentor? Provide respite care for another foster family? Become foster parents, or even adopt?

Next came six months of classes, paperwork, inspections and meetings to become a licensed foster family. After taking children into our home for a couple of years, we decided to take a break from foster care. I became an AASK mentor instead.

One day, I took the teenager I mentored to a Children’s Heart Gallery event to have her professional pictures taken for their website as a step to finding her a forever family. It was there that she introduced me to a 9-year-old boy she knew from the group home where they had lived for a couple of years.

The moment I met this gentle, sweet-spirited little boy, I knew we were meant to be his family — that we would love, support, protect, nurture, teach and guide this young man through life. We adopted our son nine months later, on National Adoption Day, Nov. 19, 2016.

Adding a fifth child to our family through adoption has been a beautiful, imperfect journey full of laughter and tears, joy and pain, love and commitment. Watching our son grow physically, mentally and spiritually under the safety and security of our family is a blessing.

National Adoption Month

• November is National Adoption Month, with National Adoption Day festivities on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. In Phoenix, the Maricopa County National Adoption Day Foundation marks the day hosting actual adoption ceremonies from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Any family interested in learning more about adoption is welcome to attend these ceremonies at the Durango Juvenile Court Center, 3131 W. Durango St., Phoenix.

• The Arizona Department of Child Safety offers a video and step-by-step information on becoming a foster parent at dcs.az.gov/fosteradoption/steps-becoming-foster-parent

• Meet some of the Arizona youth waiting for forever families at Children’s Heart Gallery.

• Wednesday’s Child profiles originated on 12News, and the weekly broadcasts continue. The profiles are produced in partnership with Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, the largest Arizona agency solely focused on finding families for children through foster care, adoption and mentoring.

Amy Carney is a Scottsdale writer, speaker and founder of Parent on Purpose. The mother of five children ages 11 to 17, she is married to retired pro hockey defenseman Keith Carney of the Phoenix Coyotes. Learn more at amycarney.com

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