National Adoption Month has special meaning to several Ahwatukee Foothills families who’ve chosen adoption to grow their families.
“I’ve always felt adoption was really cool and my husband was the same way,” said Elizabeth Anthony Dershimer. “Neither of us felt like we needed to have biological children to love a child. Given how many kids are needing families, we felt like if we don’t feel that strongly about biological children, why should we go that route? In it’s simplest form, and things get complicated easily, adoption is really just children that need families and families that want children being matched together. That’s a wonderful thing.”
The Dershimers have now adopted two children, one from Ethiopia and one domestically. Dershimer said the processes were vastly different. With their daughter in Ethiopia the entire process took less than a year, but it was a long four months between seeing the first photo of her and actually getting to meet her and bring her home. With their son, Dershimer was able to be at the hospital for his birth but there was an uncertain 72-hour wait before the birth mother could sign the consent forms for their family to take him home. Both were well worth the wait.
“People ask us about adoption a lot because it’s obvious that we have adopted,” Dershimer said. “If people have an openness to the idea of adoption and they explore it and it seems like a good fit, there are lots of different ways to adopt and they all have their benefits. Different types work for different people. I would never try to talk someone into adoption but if they are open to it, it’s such a wonderful thing.”
Ahwatukee Foothill resident Carrie Bushko and her husband had a 3-year-old biological son when they learned they might not be able to biologically have more children. They came across the same company the Dershimers used for their international adoption, Dillon Southwest.
Dillon provides home study and post placement services for families adopting from several different countries, but they also help families adopt from Ethiopia and South Korea. The Bushkos adopted two children from South Korea.
“It’s amazing how they just fold in and you can’t imagine it happening any other way,” Bushko said. “I can’t imagine any other little girl in our family, and I can’t imagine not having our Alex.”
Bushko said while the process to adopt from South Korea took time, and is taking twice as long for families now that the country has some newer adoption laws, it was very predictable. They brought home their son, Alex, in 2008 and their daughter, Leah, in 2010.
“If you feel like that’s where your heart’s led, go for it,” she said. “You will know no greater joy than adoption. It’s a blessing to our family. I know some people think you do adoption to do good will for the child, but the blessing has been completely for my husband and I. They are such a blessing for us and our older son, Evan.”
During National Adoption Month the Department of Economic Security (DES) is reminding families in Arizona that adoption can be a blessing, whether it is done through international adoption or through the state’s foster care program.
“As of March 31, 1,270 children left the Arizona foster care system through adoption in the preceding six months with 22 percent of those children being over the age of 9,” Director Clarance H. Carter said in a recent blog post. “Of the 14,314 children in out-of-home care on that same date, 2,852 had a case plan goal of adoption. Through the work of many, 1,825 children have found new homes. However, 1,027 children are still awaiting their own personal forever family. For adolescents approaching adulthood, we saw 381 teens age out of the system during this same time period. We are making progress. Unfortunately, more forever homes continue to be a need for too many of Arizona’s children.”
DES is in need of more adoptive and foster families. For more information on their programs, visit azdes.gov or call 1-877-543-7633.
For those interesting in learning more about international adoption, Dillon Southwest is hosting an orientation open to the public on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at their office, 3014 N. Hayden Road in Scottsdale. It is helpful if people RSVP by calling (480) 945-2221.
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