Fostering to Adopt a Sister Story
Fostering to adopt impacts everyone in the family, including older siblings. Today we chat with Kandis, a Chicago native, about her experience with the fostering to adopt process as a sister. Her parents adopted two children before their mother passed from ovarian cancer. Because of this great loss, Kandis stepped up into a “big sister” role.
Q: How Did The Fostering To Adopt Journey Begin?
A: My parents Freemon and Nellie Draw decided to first foster children in our household growing up. They started with an agency called, “Illinois Mentor.” Now closed due to a lack of state funding. We had a variety of children that came into our home but mostly children that were “medically fragile.” Shantierra Hamilton came to live in our home at six months old, premature in need of a liver transplant. She received her transplant in 2001 and remained in our home.
Otis Culpepper III was burned on 50% of his body when he was one year old and spent several months in Loyola Burn Unit. My mother brought him home straight from the hospital. He is also now adopted. I remember my mother having a serious love for children and my parents making a decision collectively that this journey would be the route they would take. My parents had three biological children and adopted 2, so there are five of us all together!
Q: What Was Your Adoption Experience?
A: I remember my parents being so excited that the adoption was over. My sister’s case was a long tedious process. Shantierra was already a member of the family as far as we were concerned! I remember the agency threw an adoption party for the kids that were adopted that year. My parents told me what a wonderful occasion it was for all the people represented there. But she did mention how taxing things were on us as a family. The state can drag things out for a long time and you just have to be patient to go through it. It helps to have a caseworker that is open and honest.
Unfortunately, when it came to my brother Otis, my mom died just before the adoption was finalized. We all stood in court as a family while my brother (being the strong speaker he is) told the judge about his medals, grades, and how he wanted a family. It was an emotional bittersweet day as we stood in that courtroom. Shortly after that, there was one other date, and I stood with my dad in court with my brother as everything became final.
Q: What is the Best Experience You’ve had Through this Process?
A: I remember many happy family moments we had. My sister was granted a Make a Wish Trip to Orlando Florida. We made so many memories at Discovery Cove, Sea World, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Hollywood Studios. The accommodations were outstanding! I would say from my perspective, that finalizing the adoptions for my parents were the best experiences. Along with my sister’s transplant and my brother’s full burn recovery. Seeing each child reach milestones was extremely rewarding. My mother taught my sister how to sing and taught my brother speeches from famous black figures. He won many speech contests.
Q: How Has Your Life Changed Since You Started This Journey?
Q: Any Advice You’d Like to Share With People Choosing the Fostering to Adopt Route?
A: 1. Always make the decision as a family and do research on the various agencies available in your state.
2. Keep OPEN communication with your caseworkers. (Sometimes, you go through many)
3. Ask lots of questions! If something isn’t right, QUESTION IT.
4. Sometimes, you are unable to adopt because the parents change their mind. Prepare yourself for this! This can be emotionally taxing on a couple.
5. Celebrate the adoption! And above all, love the child, pour into them, and make them feel secure.
Thank you, Kandis! We appreciate your candid interview and continue to wish you and your family the best. Kandis is a lover of all things Philanthropy and an avid reader. She is a member of The Aids Foundation of Chicago Associate Board, and Gilda’s Club Chicago Associate Board, along with being an active member of The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Illinois chapter. Earlier this year, because of her dedication to the fight against Ovarian Cancer, she received the “Random Act of Kindness” award from Catherine’s.