Angels in Adoption - Michelle Quarles story
Back when she was ten years old, Michelle Quarles announced to her family that she would have twelve children when she grew up. But she never thought about acquiring them through adoption. Fast forward to 1990. Quarles was working as a hair stylist and became friendly with one of her clients, a social worker for the Philadelphia Department of Public Welfare. During one of their many chats about life and love, her friend asked her if she wanted children. When Quarles confided her childhood dream, the social worker urged her to consider adoption. Quarles was stunned. She thought, she says, that adoption was limited to wealthy, married women.
At her friend's insistence, Quarles attended a workshop where she was shocked to learn about the thousands of children in foster care waiting for permanent families. "I didn't need to hear anymore," she remembers. "If they would have me, I'd love to be all of their mommies."
After her training, Quarles visited the offices of the National Adoption Center every day, leafing through books crammed with pictures and descriptions of waiting children. One sunny July afternoon, she found herself staring at the picture of a little boy with whom she fell in love. Five minutes later, that same little boy dashed through the Adoption Center offices. He was there to participate in a television show on adoption and had become restless. "I think he knew his mother was there," Quarles says. "I scribbled across the photo, "I want him."
A few months later, 18-month-old Brenton became her son. Three years later, she adopted again, this time, it was two-year-old Anthony.
Today, Brenton, now 14, is a quiet, reserved teenager who plays the jazz clarinet. An avid reader, he is in the ninth grade. Owner of three cats, he loves animals and is determined to be a veterinarian when he grows up. He is leader in his church's teen leadership group.
Anthony, 11, a sixth grader, is the jokester in the family and envisions a career as a professional comedian. He has an endearing, infectious smile. Anthony loves to dance--any kind of dancing.
In 2000, when Quarles received a call from the Adoption Center, asking how she would feel about adopting two sisters, Carrie and Channell, she didn't hesitate. Now Quarles has a family of four. "Amazing gifts from God," she says.
Carrie, ten, is an "old soul" who loves to mother everyone, even those much older than she. Intuitive and intelligent, she reads on a ninth grade level although she is only in the fifth grade. She likes yoga and interpretive dancing.
Channell, 12, a seventh grade student, writes "about everything," her mother says Channell's prodigious works include stories, plays, poetry and songs Along with playing the classical violin, she enjoys dancing to hip-hop tunes and singing gospel music.
On September 20, Quarles will receive an "Angels in Adoption" award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) in Washington, DC.. The "Angels in Adoption" program, CCAI's signature public awareness program, allows members of Congress to honor their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children. Quarles was selected by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA).
Since adopting, Quarles has dedicated her life to her family and to encouraging others to adopt. She has participated in videos showing the satisfactions of adoption and speaks at community meetings telling families how "beautiful" adoption is. "These children," she says, "are our future doctors , lawyers, teachers and astronauts, With love and caring, there are no limits. I'm a walking billboard for adoption, my children are positive testimonies to adoption."
For more information, go to the Center’s main website at www.adopt.org
or call the National Adoption Center at 215-735-9988.