"It Never Happens This Way"
A touching story of adoption with a unique twist. With open and eager hearts, the Ybanez Family remains faithful to the process and continues to place each child’s needs above their own desires.
College sweethearts, Matt and Aimee, have always dreamed about adoption. “It’s always been a part of our family plan,” Aimee shares. Fifteen years into their marriage and two biological children later, it was time they got serious about it. Their kids were now at the age to understand what adoption is and be a part of the discussion. This would be a family decision and their girls, Keira and Micah “were enthusiastically on board!”
The Ybanez family jumped right into the adoption process. After extensive research, they found ACH Child and Family Services and loved that we work locally with the Department of Family Protective Services to care for children in the community.
They were showered in support from the very beginning. “Going into it, we were a little overwhelmed with the volume of items to complete,” said Aimee, “but ACH was great about keeping it organized and providing us options.” In just 8 weeks from the start of their training, they were officially licensed for matched adoption!
ACH is there, every step of the way
Lizbeth Bryant, Foster Care and Adoption Supervisor, was happy to walk this journey with Matt, Aimee, and their girls. She was ready to “fill their toolbelt” with all they’d need throughout this process – support groups, training classes, and frequent check-ins.
Finally licensed, the Ybanez family did not hold back. They eagerly threw themselves into every part of the adoption process, saying “yes” as a family and ready to provide a child a safe home.
They agreed to help children that needed temporary respite care as they waited to be matched with a child to adopt. Short-term respite foster care is when one family temporarily cares for another family’s foster children for various reasons. The Ybanez Family opened their home and hearts to many children. They never held back the love and care they had to offer a child in need. Matt and Aimee recall “accepting every respite request that came through – from an infant in double leg casts all the way up to a 12-year-old girl who stayed with us for almost two weeks.”
It was during this time of welcoming many children in and out of their home that they met Jenny.* After a trial run and a short weekend stay, they became the ‘go-to’ respite family for Jenny. During this time, Matt, Aimee, Keira, and Micah fell in love with Jenny.
From "matched adoption" to "foster to adopt"
Jenny was a 3-year-old girl whose case was still in process, and a safe permanent placement was still being determined for her. At the time, Jenny was living with a foster family that would later decide they would not be able to adopt her. The care team that surrounded Jenny then needed to search for a new foster family to take her in for the remainder of her case who could also be an adoption possibility.
Since the Ybanez family had already begun building a relationship with Jenny during multiple respite stays, they were being considered as a possible foster family and adoption match. First, the Ybanez family needed to change their adoption licensing from “match adoption” to also include “foster to adopt”. This was a major decision. Matt and Aimee never imagined they would foster, yet they had no doubts. They loved Jenny and were ready to welcome her into their family. The Ybanez family moved forward with the licensing change so they could become Jenny’s foster care family with the hope and possibility of adopting her.
It was soon looking like the decision on Jenny’s case would be that her biological mother’s rights were going to be terminated. The hearing was in just two weeks and the Ybanez family would foster Jenny during that time. Matt, Aimee, Keira, and Micah would go about their days and welcome Jenny with this anticipated plan in mind.
Yet the process continued. Meetings got delayed, extensions were given, and the timing is usually never as you’d expect. Jenny’s biological mother was given an extension in hopes of family reunification. In this new limbo, Jenny stayed with the Ybanez family for months while her case continued, only now the Ybanez family felt a little unsure how to prepare for the unknown outcome.
Protecting Children and Preserving Families
The Ybanez family remained supportive of Jenny’s biological mother throughout the entire process. Knowing Jenny would be in a safe and loving environment is all they truly sought. As they cared for Jenny, ACH remained there to offer the Ybanez family support and guidance along the way. They were faced to now navigate such conflicting emotions. They had such a deep desire to permanently bring Jenny home and knew the warm and tender care they would offer her.
At the same time, they had such a softness and hope for Jenny’s mom and the reunited family they could be. They never ceased to maintain Jenny’s best interest at the heart of each decision, no matter how joyful or painful it may be.
How can you truly prepare for the unexpected? Being present and available is sometimes all you can do. Throughout this time, Aimee says, “Before we partnered with ACH we truly did not understand how much support and partnership there is, which is such a blessing. There is no shortage of support at ACH.” The Ybanez family felt more prepared to meet Jenny in her situation and care not only for Jenny but for their entire family. Jenny’s biological mother’s rights were soon reinstated and she was granted permanency. The best home now for Jenny was being reunited with her mom.
It's what's best for the child that's important
The Ybanez family learned to walk not only with open hearts but open hands as well. While they never wavered from putting the needs of the child first, they fully realize how precious it is to preserve families. They have uniquely experienced the delight and heartache that comes with living so fiercely and boldly in love.
ACH’s Lizbeth has seen their faithfulness to Jenny and is grateful to walk alongside the Ybanez family through this emotional journey. They may not have been able to welcome Jenny permanently into their home, but their hearts were open to far more than they thought capable.
Thanks to their eldest, Keira, they have pursued and maintained contact with Jenny and her mother. Aimee confesses, “honestly, we may never have gathered the strength to reach out that first time after she’d gone home if it hadn’t been for Keira.” Keira wanted to submit her drawing of Jenny into an art contest but wanted to ask her mom for permission first. Aimee pushed through her own grief to reach out.
“At first, we had no idea what an ongoing relationship with Jenny or her mom was supposed to look like. Perhaps we still don’t – there’s no template for it, but we’re doing our best to figure it out as we go.” They find themselves a part of something greater than themselves and have rallied behind a mom and joined her team to care for her sweet daughter.
Aimee shares, “We had never imagined we would foster, let alone see a child go back to her biological mom, and yet, there is something pretty amazing that happens when you can be a part of a larger support system for both child and parent.”
The Ybanez family is still patiently waiting to permanently welcome home a fifth member of their family. They remain hopeful and excited for when that day comes.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Foster Care and Adoption
Every year hundreds of children in our area are removed from their biological caregivers due to abuse or neglect. And every year ACH Child and Family Services place many of them into temporary foster care with kind and compassionate adults who have been thoroughly vetted and trained. When a child comes to us, an ACH foster and adoption specialist creates and implements an individualized Plan of Service, essentially a guide for the child’s anticipated service needs. Our professionals meet with each child at least once a month, more frequently as required. Learn more about ACH’s Foster Care and Adoption Program.