Adoption, when children change everything

November 2017 · Foster Care / Adoption

On Saturday, in Wichita, during Saint Francis’ National Adoption Day celebration at Exploration Place, Ricardo and Sonja Torres formally adopted Justin, 7, Sean, 5, Isabel, 4, and Jasmine, who turned three years old that same day. For the Torres’, it felt as though all the pieces of a puzzle had finally fallen into place.

Ricardo and Sonja Torres tried to have their own children for years. Yet, when friends told them about fostering to adopt, they didn’t jump right in. They discussed it. Again and again. They also prayed. They had lived so long together, just the two of them, that they wanted to be sure this was exactly what God intended for them. Finally, they took the leap. Licensed with Saint Francis Community Services in 2016, the Wichita couple began taking care of children in police protective custody (PPC).

Children in PPC often arrive late at night, delivered to an unfamiliar house with unfamiliar people. Usually, they’ve already had a chaotic day, so they’re anxious and scared when they arrive. Such was the case when two little sibling boys arrived at the Torres home in April 2016.

“This was our first placement, so it was all new to us,” said Sonja. “We weren’t sure what to do. So, we made dinner for them, and because they weren’t tired, we watched a movie together. Finally, I said, ‘Okay, boys, we need to go to bed because we have a busy day tomorrow.’ They were sweet boys, and went right to bed.”

The Torres family

The next day, the brothers went to the Wichita Children’s Home and then returned home. A few weeks later, Sonja received a text from her Saint Francis worker. The boys were back in out-of-home care – along with their two sisters. Could she and Ricardo take them all?

“I don’t second-guess my wife,” said Ricardo. “I was at work and told her, ‘You know, if you want them all, let’s take them all.’ I don’t believe in separating siblings anyway. We decided we’d take all four and start from there.

Suddenly, a couple who’d never had children was caring for four little ones, ages 6, 4, 3, and 1 1/2. For Ricardo, especially, the experience was an upheaval; the children changed everything.

“I’d never been around children much, so it took me a little while to get into the parent role,” he said. “I just didn’t know how to handle it. My greatest challenge was understanding that each one is a unique person with their own character. Fortunately, I have a good friend with three grown kids who does some counseling. We talk a lot, and he gives me guidance about how to be a good parent.”

One day, Ricardo and Sonja learned the children would not be able to return to their biological family, which meant they had a decision to make. Again, they discussed and prayed.

“We had to make sure there would be no second-guesses down the road,” said Ricardo. “It had to be something we both wanted to do, we both had to be all in. Ultimately, we realized that these four kids had become part of us, and we just couldn’t let them go. We hadn’t done enough for them. We’ve been praying for this for 20 years; these children are a God-given gift.”

Those prayers ripened on National Adoption Day, when the Torres family finally became complete.

“Our lives have changed, no doubt,” said Ricardo. “When it was just the two of us, we had all this free time to do whatever we wanted. Now, our lives are about the children 24/7. But there’s no way we could ever go back. We would miss them too much. It’s all worth it because no matter how badly my day has gone, there’s always an “I love you, Daddy,” in the evening. I’m so thankful to the Lord that these children are in our lives. It’s awesome.”