Matt and Kelly

It is no surprise, that when asked to consider life’s richest blessings, most people first mention their family. What a sacred institution…the very fabric of society. A family is the place where one is loved and protected. A family provides a place of belonging and a shelter from life’s storms.

Public Service workers have the sacred trust of working with children through many seasons of life. For Children’s Protective workers, abuse and neglect is the “calling card” that links children to strong families in community. Foster parents become agents of hope and healing preparing many children to restore relationships and reunite with their family.

Sometimes, despite all efforts, birth parents are not able to effectively meet the needs of a child and it becomes evident that they will likely never be able to parent. After the court places the child in the permanent custody of DJFS, it then becomes the privilege of an adoption worker to find a “forever family” for the child.

Please spend a moment to reflect on the incredible journey for adoptive parents, Matt and Kelly.

Kelly, a bright, beautiful young woman, courageously fought for her life on the perilous morning of October 23, 1996. Having received national media coverage surrounding the possibility of a live, double lung, donor transplant, many folks across the nation joined Clermont County residents in prayer as Kelly hoped for a new lease on life. Kelly had battled cystic fibrosis and her only hope for the 25% chance of survival depended upon the success of her transplant. Both of Kelly’s parents donated a lobe of their lung and waited alongside Kelly’s fiancé Matt with great anticipation for her recovery.

Because of Kelly’s physical limitations, she and Matt were keenly aware that they would never have biological children. After having been happily married for about 3 1/2 years, they began to consider increasing their family through adoption. Over the course of the next six months, they attended training and completed a homestudy. They began to prepare to become parents, constantly reminded that it was likely many children would pass through their home and reunify with their birth family before a child came into their lives to stay. Although their goal was to adopt, they understood that the decision to be dually certified foster/adoptive parents through a public child welfare agency would require their willingness to place themselves emotionally at risk. They understood that preparing for the joy of parenting also meant bracing themselves for grief if the child they loved returned to their birth family through this bitter-sweet process…

Less than 48 hours after completing certification, Kelly and Matt held a precious newborn baby boy. The months that followed brought much uncertainty as his birth family made progress, and then relapsed, but this young family, strong in their faith, “trusted the final outcome of this emotional roller coaster ride to God”. His adoption was final when he was 15 months old.

A few years later, the longing for another child grew strong. Kelly and Matt opened their heart and home to a beautiful baby girl. They did not take this decision lightly. Having lived through the experience, they knew the risk involved. They once again prepared for the arduous waiting, but their emotions were intensified, knowing their son would also be affected by their decision to bring another child into the home. He immediately became attached to “his baby sister” and they were rightly concerned about how he would be affected should she reunify with her birth family. Time passed. Her adoption was finalized.

Kelly says “people talk about how lucky our children are, but Matt and I are the lucky ones. God knew what children would fit into our family and He placed them there. My life has not necessarily been an easy one but God has blessed me in uncountable ways. Eight years ago, God was not finished with me yet. He had other plans for me to be a wife and mother.”

“This morning, we are rushing around as usual. Tyler does not want to get out of bed and Natalie wants to be held. Matt is trying to get one of the kids ready while I work on the other one. Off to another crazy, hectic day. This is not exactly where I thought my life would be, but I love it!”