A Christmas Eve Adoption

**Important Note: As this story contains sensitive information around adoption, the last names of those involved have been omitted, and some details left intentionally vague.**

On Christmas Eve, 2013, Karlynn (Bender, ’95) and her husband James opened their home to three young girls and changed their collective lives forever.

Karlynn, a registered provisional psychologist, knew that thousands of children float in and out of foster homes or group homes every year. As the children get older, the hope of adoption often goes down. This was something that deeply troubled Karlynn and James. So, after learning that they could not have biological children, they decided to open their home and make themselves available as adoptive parents.

“We wanted to give a child or children in the foster system a chance to have a home and a family,” says Karlynn.

Open to the Opportunity

Although they’d never done anything like this before, they found the process was far easier in Alberta than many might realize. They applied to Children’s Services, stated that they were willing to take in one-to-three children, and went through a two-day course on adoption.

“There are no funding issues in adopting from foster care,” shares Karlynn. “Unlike private adoption, you only pay for your police check. Legally, it’s not that difficult.”

It didn’t take long to get the process going. After they applied, Karlynn and James left for a three-week vacation. Then, as soon as they returned, they received a call from a social worker asking to meet.

The Next Steps

“They asked us some questions and eventually sent us pictures of the girls,” says Karlynn. “We fell in love with our daughters the moment we saw their pictures.”

It was an exciting time. The three girls, Eva (7), Cherokee (10), and Cheyenne (10), were invited to visit Karlynn and James for a few hours at their home, to get to know each other. The visit went well, so the girls returned to spend a few nights over the weekend with them.

“That experience was really amazing. To play with them in our home and realize, ‘Hey, in two weeks, they could be moving in here to become our daughters’ was really a wonderful experience,” says Karlynn.

The Joy of Adoption

The three girls officially moved into the house on Christmas Eve, 2013, though it still took a few months before the adoption became official. By September 2014, the girls legally became their daughters and changed their last names.

Karlynn and James say they know many other families who have also chosen to adopt in this way and are encouraged to see how well it can work.

“We have the privilege of knowing many adoptive families, including those with up to 5 children, who are adopted,” says Karlynn. “We also know families that have their own biological children that have taken in another child and adopted them to add to their family.”

Though it hasn’t always been easy, and there may be struggles ahead, Karlynn and James can say without question that opening their home and giving love to these girls was the best decision of their lives. They hope that others will read their story and come to understand how rewarding it is to give a child or children a home.

If you’d like to learn more about possible adoption opportunities in Alberta, please visit: http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/adoption/15539.html