National Adoption Day 2020: One Kinship Family’s Incredible Bond Leads to Adoption
National Adoption Day 2020 occurred this past Saturday, November 21. With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the country, Adoption Day looked a little different this year, but that didn’t stop more than 70 ASCI kinship families and their caseworkers from celebrating successful adoptions virtually! “Being invited to virtually participate in two different adoptions was an amazing, humbling experience,” shares ASCI Kinship Navigation Caseworker IV Tiffany Pitts. “This experience has reminded me about [the importance of] my role as an ASCI caseworker and the impact we have on our families’ lives. I watched [one] family pray for over 500 days to finally call this sweet baby girl their daughter. Another family, although they had already closed several months ago, wanted me there to witness this moment. All the years of frustration finally had an end date.”
“The day was filled with excitement and lots of tears,” Tiffany continues. “The kids were so excited, waving at the camera, and enjoyed seeing all their family and friends there to witness this amazing day!”
Kinship caregiver (now adoptive mother) Christina shares how excited she was to finally adopt her niece, Camryn. “She was already my daughter. She’s been my daughter since she was born,” Christina shares.
“[Christina] is all about us,” Camryn says. “She’ll get us things before she does something nice for herself. It felt exciting [to be adopted],” Camryn says, adding that even though the adoption process was long due to various meetings, canceled plans and having several caseworkers visit their home, it wasn’t a bad experience because she understood that the end goal was important. “I’ve been through it for a long time now,” she says.
Christina’s biological daughter McKenzie shares the same excitement about her cousin’s adoption. “I was excited because she was becoming my sister. She was already in my family, but she’s now officially in my household,” she says.
“I made her a promise that if it took every breath in me, I was going to do whatever I had to do to protect her.”Christina tells ASCI.
The time spent between Christina, Camryn and McKenzie is shared by going to Dave & Buster’s, shopping, having nail dates and dying one another’s hair.
Christina shares that she admires Camryn’s drive. Even though Camryn has been through such a hard time at a young age, she still keeps a smile on her face every day. She is ready to face everything the world has ready for her, and Christina does her very best to make sure Camryn is OK. She was adopted as a child herself, so it’s in her nature to do the same. “A true heart.” That’s what Christina calls it—dedicating her life to making Camryn’s life better.
(From left to right: McKenzie, Catherine and Camryn)
Cousins-turned-sisters Camryn and McKenzie share a deep connection. Christina explains, “My daughter, like me, with every last breath of her, has fought for Camryn, physically and mentally. If something is going on with Camryn, my daughter feels it and goes through it, as well.”
These two are the best of friends. They’ve been like sisters from the very beginning. “When I was pregnant [with McKenzie], [Camryn’s] foot would be on my stomach. They had that bond from day one,” Christina recalls.
Camryn and McKenzie share a love for math and softball, and when speaking of future plans, neither teen is sure which road to take. “I’m having trouble figuring out what I really want to be,” Camryn explains. “I thought I wanted to be a nurse last year, but once I got into the classes, it wasn’t what I was really interested in. Now, I’m in early childhood education.”
McKenzie insists that whichever paths they choose, she just wants to “succeed with Camryn.” It is abundantly clear that nothing but love flows through this home! The girls are closer than ever before and will surely support one another as they mature and go after their goals.
Since 1980, under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, relatives are to be the first choice to raise children when birth parents are unable to be the primary caregivers. What’s important to recognize about permanency through kinship care is that each family decides for themselves what is best to ensure the children thrive.
Camryn was placed with her aunt and cousin when her biological mother was unable to care for her, and they gave her the support she needed. Camryn’s biological mother, Christina’s sister, has been thankful to Christina for giving her daughter a stable home. The two sisters are still as close as they ever were, even though Christina has now adopted Camryn.
“[Christina] helped me out,” Camryn explains. “My mom’s house wasn’t the best house. [Christina] gave me everything that I needed: clothes, healthy food, everything.”
“You need to make sure that this is the right thing for you before you do it. Your heart needs to be in it. If your heart’s not in it, don’t do it, because you have to be in it for the right reasons.”Christina’s advice to other adoptive parents.
Being adopted herself, Christina is very passionate about children in the foster care system. She shares that even though she has adopted Camryn, she is still open to becoming a respite caregiver to smaller children in need. McKenzie offers, “Even through her struggle moments, [my mom] still makes an effort. Even when she’s down, she still makes sure we’re up.”
We wish Camryn, Christina and McKenzie all the happiness a loving family provides, and congratulate every child and family who celebrated National Adoption Day 2020 with ASCI and across the nation!