Jacob entered foster care when he was six years old. His young life was marked by regular upheaval, bouncing between several foster homes and even two abandoned adoption attempts. As he became a teenager, Jacob still held onto the hope that he would find a family that would adopt him, but he didn’t know exactly how or if that hope would be fulfilled.
Enter Beth and Tim Shelley.
The Shelleys’ story starts well before they met Jacob. Tim and Elizabeth met when they were 19, and got married shortly after. They enjoyed the freedom and companionship of their early marriage, but always knew they wanted to start a family. When they realized they were not able to have biological children, they decided to become foster parents.
Though foster care is ideally a temporary situation while a child’s biological parents get the help they need to heal, sometimes this is impossible. In this case, adoption is often the best option. After fostering for a while, the Shelleys decided that they wanted to look into adopting one of these kids. Utilizing Adopt Kansas Kids’ website and resources, they found Jacob’s adoption profile.
“We were drawn to him immediately, and already felt like we had a connection,” says Beth. Working with an Adopt Kansas Kids caseworker in tandem with a couple of other agencies, they arranged to meet with Jacob.
COVID-19 threw a bit of a wrench in the traditional process. Jacob spoke with Tim and Beth by phone, and then for two months via Zoom. Beth mentioned that it was actually a great time to slowly get to know one another, learning each other’s personalities and finding common likes and dislikes. They bonded over music, bikes, and video games, and were able to establish an initial level of trust. Video chats led to in-person meetings, and eventually, they officially began the adoption process through a transitional foster placement. Jacob described the moment that Tim and Beth asked him if they could adopt him.
“I was crossing my fingers that someday I would find my forever family, and it worked its magic,” he said. “I was just really happy.”
Jacob officially became a Shelley on December 2nd, 2021. Beth describes the excitement she and Tim experienced leading up to their first Christmas as a family.
“We had to pace ourselves to not go way overboard on presents”, she says. “I probably cried two or three times that day.”
Jacob is now 15 years old and learning to drive. He still loves video games and spending quality time with Tim and Beth. The Shelleys are currently in the process of adopting another child through Adopt Kansas Kids. Their commitment to caring for children in need of loving families is helping to break the cycle of generational abuse and neglect in their lives. Beth says that though the work is challenging, seeing Jacob begin to heal from his past trauma is more than enough motivation to keep going.
“If anyone is even remotely considering fostering or adopting, it’s so worth it,” she says. “There are definitely days where it’s hard and we both question our parenting abilities, but I can’t even put into words the change we’ve seen in Jacob over the last year. Being able to provide stability washes away all of the doubt we have about ourselves and our capabilities.”
FosterAdopt Connect is always looking for additional foster/adoptive parents. Click here to learn more about what it could look like to care for youth in your community.