When the Forsyths decided to adopt, they were planning on a child who was around two years younger than their ten-year-old biological daughter. When the social worker called and said she had an 8-month-old for them, they were shocked. But their daughter wasn’t. She said she knew that the family would adopt a baby brother because that’s what she had prayed for. This is their adoption story.
Can you briefly describe your family?
My husband and I [Marna Forsyth] have been married for 32 years. Our biological daughter is 22, and our adopted son is now a pre-teen. Our son has some challenges, but he is smart and has an amazing sense of humour and, as my daughter often says, “he is the perfect fit for our family!”
Can you tell us a bit about your experience with the adoption process overall?
Honestly, it was a bit of a roller coaster. The process at first seemed like it was going slowly. It can feel like it is dragging, but it really isn’t. It gives both you and the social worker time to reflect on what will work best for your family and which child will benefit from being in your home.
Once we were matched with a child, the process flew by. We weren’t expecting to get a baby and thus, we ended up having to purchase and borrow some items (like a crib). I can still remember holding him after the first night he stayed in our home and thinking: “How can you love someone so completely after only knowing them a week?”
What’s your best bit of advice for families considering adopting?
Be open and honest through the whole process.
Be open to children with special needs but be honest about what you can take on. For us, this meant that we were willing to take a child or sibling group with special needs that perhaps required a bit more patience – which we all have.
However, we also knew that taking on a child with special medical health needs was not for us. While my husband is fine in hospitals and medical appointments, both my daughter and I get anxious in these settings. Thus, we knew that we would not be the best support and help for children with those needs.
Additionally, the process can seem a bit invasive – but it is just because the social workers are doing their utmost to ensure a good match. They want to find the best possible homes for these children.
We have also been open and honest with our son about his adoption and how truly blessed we are to have him in our lives.
Can you tell us about one high point and one challenging point in your adoption experience?
This is a difficult question to answer because there have been so many high points. The foster mom (and family) were amazing! They helped us with the transition, his schedule, and too many other things to name. We know that our son was extremely blessed and helped by being in their family even though it was for a relatively short time. We have kept in touch with them over the years and our son loves to go visit them. It’s an important connection that sometimes gets overlooked.
I think one challenging point is that he has some “invisible challenges,” like sensory issues. Lots of people think that he is smart, funny, and cute (which of course, he is!), and that we spoil him. What they don’t see is that he is good at coping in the moment and can cover his challenges well—for short amounts of time.
For example, one time he caught his thumb in a door and had a deep cut. We put a bandage on it, and he seemed fine. However, weeks later, after the wound had healed, he wouldn’t give up having a bandage on his thumb. I thought I was being smart by just letting it fall off , but he held it in place for days. He had the biggest melt down he’s ever had when I told him he didn’t need it anymore.
We came up with creative solutions and, eventually, we were able to go without anything on the thumb. At one point I was worried that he would be 18 and still have a band-aid on his thumb!
Advocating for him can be a real challenge at times (because, often, others don’t understand) but we can’t ever give up. It’s his future and we want to ensure that he has everything he needs to be the best he can possibly be!
How has AFABC made a difference to your family?
I wish I had known about AFABC years ago. They could have been a great support when our son first started school and then when we went through the IHCAN (Interior Health Children's Assessment Network) process. That said, I do often go to the AFABC website and read the stories and articles. There is great information there, and also hope and support. Just knowing that others have had similar experiences helps me.
Additionally, I often give out AFABC’s information to other adoptive families. As a matter of fact, I gave out your information just yesterday to an adoptive mom who was struggling.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We can’t imagine our lives, or family, without our son. Adoption can seem like it’s a long and arduous process at first. Yet, for us, it was easier than we thought, and it is totally worth it.