It is often said that foster children are amazingly resilient. In this Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family™” series installment, contributing writer David Humiston shares the story of how one couple are continually inspired by the resilience of their five adopted children.
Erika Hile is a father in Indiana. Yep, that’s right, I said “father.” This may come as a surprise considering that Erika is one half of a same-sex lesbian couple who have adopted five children. But at the time, the state of Indiana adoption forms had yet to catch up with the realities of modern families even though placements in same-sex parent households had long been highly and specifically sought, especially for children whohave been abused.
Erika and wife Taylor never spoke of whether they would raise children together. It was always a matter of when, who, and how many, which, Erika confides, was always “as many as possible.” They were also in agreement that older children would be best for them, because they were eager to engage the family in a variety of activities. Both parents are passionate caregivers who say that, as much as they affectionately give to their brood, their return reward is vastly greater. The strength and resilience that their children express have been a source of unending pride and encouragement to them. Erika confesses that they have made, and continue to make, her a better person on a daily basis.
Erika is already a great person. At her county library, she is in charge of teen programming, and she has a natural inclination for communal involvement and active learning activities. She and Taylor take their kids to museums, musical events, art programs, and even black tie affairs. A true southern woman, Erika insists in instilling the values of etiquette and its associated charms while still encouraging creative thought, education, and exploration. How does she do at that daunting task? Well, consider the story she shared of her eldest child, a boy who had been in 14 schools already by the time he came to Erika and Taylor. In 7th grade at the time, he was only reading at a kindergarten level and there were worries that he would ever have a “normal” educational experience. As a result of collective efforts, this young man is now in 10th grade, reading at grade level, in mainstream classes, and playing football for his high school. As Erika related to me, “Just a few days ago, we were joking around about a state-wide meeting in which I was asked to speak. Jokingly, I said that I would be ‘famous’ one day, and that he should pay attention. He instantly got serious and said, ‘Mom, you and Mom have always been famous. You have been looked up to, emulated (yes, he said emulated!), and cherished...from me since the day you taught me to read.’ For that moment, we have been forever grateful.”
Two of Erika and Taylor’s children are sibling girls who came from abusive male environments. Erika explains that abused girls and abused boys often blossom better in family environments where both parents are unthreatening to them. According to Erika, social workers report many of the longest and best placements for children with such family arrangements. In fact, a caseworker once told Erika that “Children are naturally resilient, but it’s a shame that they have to be.” Seeing this resilience in their own children is what motivates Erika and Taylor to be the best parents they can be, regardless of how their family roles were once recognized by the state.
RaiseAChild.US is the nationwide leader in the recruitment and support of LGBT and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and adoption to meet the needs of the 400,000 children in the foster care system. RaiseAChild.US recruits, educates, and nurtures supportive relationships equally with all prospective foster and adoptive parents while partnering with agencies to improve the process of advancing foster children to safe, loving and permanent homes. For information about how you can become a foster or adoptive parent, please visit www.RaiseAChild.US.