This is the fifth of a series of assignments that I had for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. This was a very meaningful project for me, as I too was adopted, but I had found a forever family when I was only months old. Many of the children I documented in this series were not so fortunate, spending years in a system that passed them from one home to another until DTFA stepped in and helped them find a stable home life and loving forever family.
Soon after Robb and Marc met Tyler, then nine, he cut right to the chase. “When are you going to adopt me?” he asked as they drove to a coffee shop.
The question caught Marc off guard. “I’m not usually at a loss for words,” says Marc, “but it took me a minute to figure out what to say. I ended up telling him that we’d need to see how it went and make sure it was a good fit.” “I think it’s a good fit,” Tyler answered immediately. After two weeks, Marc and Robb knew Tyler was right. He moved in with them soon after. “It was very meant to be,” Robb says.
“Tyler is so polite, so kind. He takes our next door neighbor’s trash cans in for her. He walks the elderly across the street. Seriously.” Together, the family travels, cooks, entertains and takes walks. “We’re loving, fun and outgoing,” Tyler says.
“That’s what makes this a really great family. “When strangers tell you things about your son, like ‘what a great kid,’ it just makes you so proud.”
In 2009, Marc and Robb were living a life that many dream of, filled with successful professional careers and frequent travel, but they both agreed that something was still missing. Having a child had always been important to the couple, and it felt as though the time to pursue an addition to their family had arrived. Robb tells Reader’s Digest, “We’ve always known someone was missing at the table, and we’ve always wanted a family. We’ve always wanted someone to teach to tie their shoes, someone to visit colleges with.”
Once the decision had been made to begin the adoption process, Marc and Rob completed a “Family Available” sheet, a document that uses photographs and personal information to introduce a child to prospective parents. “It’s an opportunity to give a child the chance to feel like they get to choose you, instead of you choosing them,” Robb explains. Originally looking for a child from infant age to seven, the couple scanned several thick binders full of profiles of waiting children. Robb recalls, “There were these huge binders—just full of children, all waiting for families.” When a social worker showed them the profile of a nine-year-old boy named Tyler, they decided to schedule a meeting with him even though he was older than their original preference. “We had previously talked to friends about it, and we just came to the conclusion that it would be crazy to say we would take him if he were six or seven, but not nine,” Robb says.
Marc and Robb met Tyler on a cold January day at an aquarium. “I had this excited and nervous feeling,” Robb says. “We wanted to love this child, and we wanted him to love us, too,” he adds. The initial meeting proved to be exactly what Tyler and the couple had hoped for—they all felt as though they were meant to be a family. On the way back to his foster mother’s home, Tyler softly asked from the backseat as Robb drove, “So when are you going to adopt me?” This was a question Robb hadn’t been prepared for, but a perfect way to confirm what they had all been feeling. “I pulled over and told him that we needed to make sure that it was a good fit for him, and for us—and he responded with ‘I think it’s a good fit.’ That’s when I just knew.”
Tyler was placed in foster care due to parental neglect at the age of six, and had experienced three separate foster homes in the three years prior to meeting Marc and Robb. “We think of each situation he’s been through as a tool to help him navigate his adult life. His past does not define him,” explains Marc. On December 10, 2009, Marc and Robb officially became the parents of Tyler, an event that felt a lifetime in the making.” He’s been a part of our family his entire life, it just took him a little while to get to us,” Robb says.
Today, Tyler is a 17-year-old senior in high school who works summers at the local zoo and plays the piano. He’s touring colleges with his parents and excited for the future—a future that now looks brighter than ever. “Everyone that knows Tyler loves him. He’s such a wonderful human being. We would do what we did a million times over to get Tyler,” Robb says. Marc and Robb are motivated to share their story of adopting Tyler to help others understand that adopting an older child can be wonderful, and full of some of the same things you would expect to experience with a younger child. “These kids are not in foster care because they had great parents,” Robb says. “You’ll have the firsts with older kids that you would have had with younger ones—we taught Tyler to ride his bike, brush his teeth—all of those things,” he adds. Robb and Marc were once told by a family friend to not forget about older children as an option for their family. “He said, remember that they come back home during college—they’ll come back to you for the rest of their lives,” Robb recalls. “You don’t parent a child only until they’re 18. You adopt a child for a lifetime,” Marc says. Adopting from foster care is free in many states, but the cost of adoption in other scenarios is often higher than you might expect.
Marc and Robb are both passionate about the joy that adoption, and specifically adoption of an older child, has brought to their lives. “I feel as bonded to Tyler just as much as if he were my biological child,” Marc says. “I would sacrifice myself for him in an instant, without a second thought,” he adds. The couple want others to know that parenting an adopted child is no different than parenting a biological one. “Every child has issues—biological or not—but that’s just part of being a parent,” Marc explains. “Every child is entitled to a childhood. I just want people to know that they shouldn’t make assumptions. Children in the foster system deserve a chance to be considered,” Robb adds.
Considering adoption? Please check out this guide
Also, please prayerfully consider your financial support of this great organization.