November is National Adoption Month. As part of celebrating the many people who grow their families through adoption, we’ve asked some families to share their adoptive journey. Meet the Castorena family: Carlos, Katherine, Kevin (11), Casen (10), and the newest member—Kayla (6)!

Castorena family adoptionACH: How did you first become interested in adoption?
Castorenas: We have always known we would adopt from the beginning of our relationship. Katherine knows several adopted people, including three family members, as well as a friend who aged out of foster care. For our family, adopting a child 6 or over was the best fit. We had a lot of conversations with our boys about what the process would look like, and we all jumped in excited and ready.

ACH: How did you come to ACH?
Castorenas: We began researching agencies. At the time, Katherine worked for CPS and needed an agency who would be willing to put in extra work and precautions to follow the guidelines. ACH was the only agency who did not make the process sound impossible. In fact, they welcomed us and told us it would not be a problem.

ACH: What has been the best part about your experience with adoption?
Castorenas: Getting our daughter Kayla! She was a part of our family from the moment we said hello. We all feel complete with her in our group and cannot believe we went so many years without her—it feels like she has always been with us.

ACH: What were some of the needs that you had to address (and are possibly still addressing) when the child(ren) came to your home? What ways have you helped to address those needs?
Castorenas: Kayla’s health was my first priority. When we met her, she had a cough and breathing issues and still, all these months later, it continues. We’ve been to several doctors and will keep going until we get it figured out. She’s so strong and has powered through every obstacle, even surgery. Her complete trust in us to take care of her is amazing.

ACH: What are some things that helped prepare you for having the child(ren) placed in your home (i.e., already had parenting experience)?
Castorenas: It was a big benefit to have already had children. We knew how we parented and what our strengths and weakness are. It is also a benefit to have a strong support group. Friends and family play a huge role in this process just by being there as emotional support. Our community has been wonderful as well. The school was ready and excited to welcome Kayla, and we have met so many families who have adopted. The training and support groups at ACH are also important. At the time, the training may feel like a lot, but in hindsight, it answers questions or concerns you might not have at the moment but will cross at some point in this process. The support groups are a connection to people going through the same process.

ACH: What would your advice/recommendations be for a family who is considering adoption?
Castorenas: This process isn’t easy emotionally, and sometimes, you struggle with time, particularly at the beginning. Give yourself extra time, patience, and understanding. You have to remember adoption is challenging. It shouldn’t be easy; you are vowing to take on the care and love of a human life, a child who has been through trauma you will likely never understand or know all of. No file or staffing will ever give you everything you feel you need to know about your future child or children. You have to trust that you can do it—because you can.

ACH: Why do you think adoption is important?
Castorenas: Permanency for a person is the best thing we can be given. A lack of support leads to a life of struggle and bad decisions. We as humans do best when we have a strong support group, people to fall back on when life gets overwhelming. As part of the bigger picture, adoption helps young people who may have fallen into a bad life the chance to succeed and reach their potential. For us, the Castorena family, it allows each big event to feel complete and more full of love.

ACH: Anything else to add?
Castorenas: We could not be here adopting this beautiful, sweet child without the love and care of her foster family. We want to make sure all the foster families out there giving it their all know we appreciate you.

Castorena Family