Patricia Murray and her husband, Shawn, who live in Barrington, NJ, say that adopting from the foster care system was their first choice. "We knew it would take years to adopt a healthy infant," said Patricia, "and we also knew there were children waiting for us in the foster care system." The Murrays and their three children received the "Family of the Year" award this year from the National Adoption Center.
The Murrays expanded their family from zero to three children in ten months. In 1999, they adopted Kevin, who was then four, and within six months the family adopted Alissa, three and a half, and her biological sister Ashley who was just under two and a half. Kevin is now nine and a half and his sisters are eight and six and a half.
"We took a risk," says Patricia about her process of adopting children who were not infants, "and the three of them are all doing better than anyone thought they would." Her son excels in math and enjoys playing soccer and basketball.
"You get more from seeing them grow and thrive than they’ll ever get from you," said Patricia. The Murrays were undaunted by their children’s challenges, fought for services for them, and have been thrilled by the achievements they have made. They say they feel blessed and thankful to have them.
Patricia emphasized that she "would absolutely do it again." She says that adopting a child from foster care is a "much less expensive way to adopt and much quicker." Her suggestion to prospective parents is that they "know their limits" and then be prepared to experience "something wonderful."
In preparation for parenting, Patricia took an adoptive parent class at the National Adoption Center (NAC). Now in addition to being an adoptive parent, she is an adoption advocate and a moderator with The Learning Center’s (a program of the NAC) online adoption chats.
Adopting children out of the foster care system is priceless, but it is not expensive. Parents do not need to earn a specific amount of income, and they do not need to own their own homes. Many of the waiting children are eligible for subsidy. Many of the children are older and may be adopted by an older parent or parents.
The mission of the National Adoption Center, a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, Pa., is to expand adoption opportunities throughout the United States, particularly for children with special needs and children from minority cultures. The Center was founded in 1972, and, since then, the Center has found homes for more than 20,000 children. For more information, go to the Center’s main website at www.adopt.org or call the National Adoption Center at 215-735-9988.