Erin and Clint always knew they wanted to grow their family through adoption. What they didn’t know, however, was that it would happen sooner than they originally thought.
“Before we got married, we talked about our plans for children, and we both agreed that we wanted to adopt at some point, ideally after we had two biological children,” says Erin. “But after about three years of struggling with infertility and a couple of unsuccessful pregnancies, we decided it was time to start the process sooner rather than later.”
They began the almost year-long process to become foster parents. On Oct. 28, 2016, just a couple of weeks after they received their license, they got a call that would change their lives forever. A 3-day-old baby had been surrendered under the Safe Haven law, also known as the Baby Moses law. Erin and Clint’s caseworker asked if they were interested in caring for the baby as their first placement. To the hopeful parents, it seemed like a match made in heaven.
“We had always talked about how amazing it would be if the first child placed in our home was a newborn who was eligible for adoption and happened to be of mixed race like my husband and me,” says Erin. “So when we got pretty much that exact call, we were elated!”
Two hours later, Maddie was placed into their arms.
Comprehensive care for foster families
About five days later, Erin and Clint were notified that Maddie’s newborn screenings revealed she had a marker for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) disease, a genetic disorder affecting the individual’s immune system, making them extremely susceptible to infections and infectious diseases.
“We were terrified,” says Erin.
Maddie had already been seen once in the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence at Children’s Health℠, the only program in North Texas dedicated exclusively to providing primary medical care to children in foster care, so Erin and Clint dropped everything to bring her back for additional testing.
Additional tests ruled out the disease and reassured the family, supporting them through the challenges they faced as new parents.
“At our first visit, which happened to be around Halloween, we met Jaclyn Albin, M.D., who was dressed as Wonder Woman,” Erin says. “Somehow seeing her like that helped us relax and let us know that everything would be ok. My husband still calls her Wonder Woman.”
Over the next year, Maddie was seen at the Rees-Jones Center for her regular check-ups, as well as visits with specialists. Throughout it all, Erin says that everyone was loving, knowledgeable and professional.
“The team has always treated Maddie as if she was their own, and we loved the time we were given to ask questions,” says Erin. “We never had to worry about scheduling our next appointment as the team takes care of that for us. Any time we had concerns, we were able to call the nurse line and feel comfortable that Maddie was ok.”
A happy homecoming
Maddie’s story began a new chapter. On Nov. 18, known as National Adoption Day, Maddie’s adoption was finalized. Erin and Clint are looking forward to growing as a family and are especially excited to celebrate Christmas.
Erin says this has been the most amazing, as well as one of the most difficult, experience they’ve ever gone through, but being able to provide a home for a child that needs it has been an unbelievable experience.
“Our hope for our daughter is that she’s always able to communicate in a positive way and that she will love fiercely and be passionate about learning new things,” says Erin. “We can already tell that she’s very smart, and we hope that she believes that, too!”
The Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence brings together foster care experts in pediatrics, behavioral health, research and child welfare and provides primary care for children currently in the Texas foster care system. The Rees-Jones Center is also working to train future health care professionals in the best methods of caring for children facing these unique circumstances to help raise foster care practice standards across the state. Learn more about our services.