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An unbreakable bond: A year in the life of an adoptive couple in South Jeffco

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By Deborah Swearingen

The moment Kalyn entered their lives, Bret and Aron realized two things to be true.

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First, their newly adopted daughter was a perfect fit, an exact piece for their family puzzle. Second, despite this, the moment they made the family official on Adoption Day in 2016, the South Jeffco couple knew they wanted to begin the adoption process again — and as soon as possible.

In January 2017, they were placed back on the wait list at Adoption Options. The Denver-based nonprofit adoption agency has placed more than 1,800 children in permanent homes since its inception in 1981.

Oftentimes, adoption means waiting — and waiting — and sometimes, more waiting. It can bring excitement for a family who finds “a perfect fit,” and disappointment should a set of birth parents change their minds.

Because it can take some time to be placed with a child, Bret and Aron felt confident in their decision to move forward with haste.

“We got on as quick as we could with the agency again to hope that they were closer together,” Bret said. “So that they could, you know, hopefully have a close sibling relationship.”

Plus, the couple planned for two adoptive children with the hope of providing each with a shoulder to lean on as the two grow older.

“They have something they can both relate to,” Aron said. “ … That helps round our family out, too.”

The process — for a second time

Many agree that adopting for a second time is significantly less daunting.

Not only does the second go-round require fewer steps, but waiting is made easier when there is another child in the picture.

“Oh, it’s much easier,” Aron said. “We know what to expect this time around. We know the staff at the agency. We know the process.”

“ … The emotional aspect, too. We understand, you know, what to expect emotionally,” Bret added. “You might have highs and lows. … You might be called; you might not.”

To establish a spot on the waiting list, the couple had to go through a variety of steps. The agency visited their home to ensure it was a safe environment for a child. Adoption Options also does a Federal Bureau of Investigation background check of the parents and a financial check. In addition, Bret and Aron each had to have a physical to identify any health issues.

The couple are in the process of completing an online portfolio, which will be viewable by birth parents selecting a family for their soon-to-be child. On the portfolio, they include information about their family and share photos, particularly of the crew since Kalyn’s arrival in July 2016.

For the first adoption, Bret and Aron were required to take a variety of courses. While classes continue to be available, the courses are no longer a requirement.

The birth parents decide whether to meet the adoptive parents. When a family selects Bret and Aron, they might have the opportunity to meet with the family ahead of time and have months for preparation — as they did with Kalyn — or they might not have much notice at all.

Though there are very few certainties when it comes to adoption, Adoption Options executive director Adrienne Elliott said it’s likely the process will take longer the second time because some families prefer to place their child with a couple that doesn’t already have children.

“It just depends,” she said. “(But) it tends to be three to four months longer than … when they’re adopting the first time.”

Communication the key to success

For couples looking to adopt, communication is vital. Fortunately, this is an area where Bret and Aron thrive.

“You know, they talk,” said Carol Lawson, who has been the couple’s adoption caseworker both times and knows them well. “That’s the thing that’s always impressed me is just how much they communicate.

“Families have to do that. They have to communicate their fears and their hopes and dreams, and they have to be honest.”

In some ways, the pair have a small advantage as a same-sex couple. Though they took nearly two decades to prepare, adoption was always part of the plan.

“Everyone’s situation is unique,” Bret said. “… We’re very different because we didn’t go through infertility or we didn’t go through, potentially, miscarriage or losing a child.”

Lawson agreed, saying it’s important for couples to be open and upfront with each other before beginning the adoption process, especially for those who have experienced a loss.

“Just because you’re infertile — if you’re a heterosexual couple — you can’t automatically move into adoption,” she said, recalling something a former Adoption Options executive director once told her.

“ … Adoption is a wonderful solution for childlessness. It’s not a solution for infertility,” Lawson added.

A family bond

To watch Bret and Aron talk about Kalyn, who is now almost 1 1/2 years old, is to witness love in its purest form.

“ … Obviously, she’s changed our lives,” Aron said. “But it’s also fun to see how she’s changed the lives of our entire family. … Our parents, our siblings. Their families. Cousins.”

“Our new friends. The people at daycare. Her teachers,” Bret added.

“The love that it has brought not only into our lives, but the lives of the friends and family, I think that that’s been an incredible experience in our journey,” Aron said.

When No. 2 comes along, they cannot say for certain how Kalyn will react. But if her response on a chilly December night was any indication, the family may be in for a treat.

“Baby, baby, baby,” the toddler repeated, laughing and playing in the living room of her South Jeffco home while her fathers watched.

Based on her personality and her tendency to share a hug, Bret and Aron expect Kalyn will be caring and attentive to a new brother or sister.

“All of the childhood memories that come along with (having a sibling), I think that’s something we’re all looking forward to,” Aron said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.