Brian and Yesenia Sidwell opened their home to Eli to provide respite care for the foster family he had been placed with. Respite care gives foster parents a needed break now and then. But having Eli just once wasn’t enough for the Sidwells. He came to stay with them this February as they began the process of adopting Eli and becoming his forever family. Since then, Eli has experienced many firsts: his first time going on a plane and his first time fishing—he even caught a fish! We asked Brian and Yesenia some questions about their experience with the adoption process.
1. What were some challenges, if any, you had to work through during the adoption process?
It’s difficult to compare what we experienced to what Eli, and other children, may have been through. For me, it was a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Since this was the first time we have gone through this process, we really did not know what to expect, on so many levels. Would we know what to do and when? Would we do it right.? Could we be who and what Eli needed? Were we ready for… well anything, really!
2. What were some needs Eli had that you had to address (and are possibly still addressing) upon him being placed in your home? What ways have you helped to address those needs?
Communication! When Eli came to us, his verbal and mental comprehension was primarily in Spanish. Fortunately, Yesenia (mom) is fluent in Spanish and could communicate with him and bridge the gap.
Stability and security, too. We were told Eli had some separation anxiety, but to see the fear and terror in his eyes when he thought he was being “left” or separated was so difficult. To imagine the fear he must have felt. He has only recently, after 6 months, been able to be dropped off at Montessori, with any consistency, without an anxiety attack.
In addition, Eli had issues playing well with other children his age. In his previous environments, he would become aggressive if he thought he needed to for the affection or attention of his caretaker. He still occasionally has similar behavior but at a much lesser degree, which we believe is in line with his age/peers.
3. What are some things that helped prepare you for having Eli placed in your home (i.e., already had parenting experience)?
We were blessed with 2 children prior to Eli: Tori, 23, and Noah, 10. We are extremely fortunate in that they are both so welcoming and accommodating with Eli. Eli looks up to “buther” and wants to do everything Noah does!
4. Anything you would have changed during the adoption process? Anything you wish you would have had better knowledge of or better resources for?
ACH did an exceptional job in preparing and training us. They really prepare and share training in a way that, at least we perceived to be, potentially “the worst case” scenario. With that, when Eli arrived, it wasn’t as difficult as initially thought. Honestly, I wish we had some of the training, SAMA (Satori Alternative Methods for Managing Aggression, a training to teach parents appropriate de-escalation techniques), for example, years ago!
5. What would your advice/recommendations be for a family who is considering adoption?
Do your research. Pray. And follow your heart. Our experience has been exceptional!