The Kenos say that you're never too old to provide a family for kids who need it. Here they share their story, along with why being an AFABC Member was important to them.
Mary Ellen and her husband already had three daughters, but they knew they had more love to give.
“When we first received the call about our match, we knew immediately that he was perfect for us," says Mary Ellen. The baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The Kenos had a close family member with a disability and they knew they wanted to provide a loving home to a child with a disability.
“The first time I met him, our son was a tiny one month old baby. He was hooked up to so many tubes. I was overwhelmed by this tiny baby with all the bells and wires. When the nurse asked if I wanted to hold him, I was nervous and scared, but I said yes."
"As I held my son for the first time in my arms, I just knew that everything was going to be fine.”
Since then, the Keno family has adopted four more children. “Adoption has changed my life. It has stretched us, grown us, and taught me to have a lot more empathy. It wasn’t always easy. There were many moments of frustration, like seeing your child struggle but not knowing what to do, and when the doctors didn’t even know how to help. As Christians, our faith in God has helped us, as well as the developmental mental health team and the pediatricians. We are so thankful for them.
“We have been members of AFABC for 15 years, and the team is always there for us. We enjoy the magazine, and when the kids were younger, we would borrow books from the AFABC library. We like the social aspect of AFABC such as the support groups, and special events that are held in our community. We can't always make it to the events because of our kids' disabilities, but it's nice to still be able to feel connected with the community. We can get together with other adoptive families, and it’s nice to have a forum to share with other adoptive families.”
Mary Ellen says that parenting kids who come from trauma or neglect is different, and you have to change your expectations. "Watch and listen to your child and see what's important to them. For example, as parents we want to bond with the child, but sometimes it's hard for the child to bond--I had to change my expectations."
Today, the Keno’s beautiful family is continuing to grow--bustling with many grandchildren and, they’re in the midst of welcoming another family member home through international adoption. “Our first son that we adopted is 23 years old today. He has his own business where he makes wooden signs. Our entire gang is getting to the late teens and the early twenties, and it’s amazing to see them graduate high school, and to see them become adults who are doing really well!”
Mary Ellen wants parents to know that you're never too old to provide a loving home. "There are older kids who need homes. For empty nesters we want to say adopt a teenager instead of playing golf!"