‘Be who you are’ – Newton grandparents adopt three
December 2022 · Adoption, Forward in Hope, Ministry News
Maria Brady used to suffer from insomnia. Whether from relief or fatigue, she has little difficulty falling asleep now. On November 9, she and her husband, Scott, finalized the adoptions of her two biological grandchildren and their half-sister, ending a four-year odyssey through the foster care and court systems.
“After that first time in court, back in year one, we came back home, and I looked her in the eye and said, ‘You know, we’re probably going to end up raising those kids,’” says Scott. “She just smiled and said, ‘Yeah, you’re probably right.’ Four years later, we’ve got all three of them.”
Together eight years, the Newton couple married in June 2021, but they’ve known each other since high school in Ottawa, Kansas. In the intervening years, Maria had three children, the eldest of whom is the father of Lucas, 7, and Estrella, 6. They share a mother with 10-year-old J’Lynn. Both biological parents have struggled with substance use, which is why the children entered the child welfare system. Eventually, they relinquished their parental rights, which resulted in all three kids becoming eligible for adoption. For Scott and Maria, there was never a question of whether they would adopt them, despite both being in their early 50s.
The children were first placed in kinship care, alternating time with both sides of the family.
“Initially, we could get the kids only on weekends,” says Scott. “We got Lucas full-time just a few days before his fourth birthday. I moved in with Maria in March 2015, and he was born in September. So, I’ve been part of Lucas’s and Estrella’s lives since they were born. I met J’Lynn a little bit before her third birthday in this house. When we got Lucas full-time, Maria was at work, so I picked him up and took him straight to her so she could cry and hug him because we finally got the first one. It took three more years to get the other two.”
Since the children had already lived a while with them, few adjustments were needed once the adoptions became final. That doesn’t mean they haven’t had to deal with some logistical issues, especially since they’re both working grandparents raising young children.
“Before we got any of the kids, I was a shift supervisor,” says Maria. “Once we got Lucas, I stepped back a couple days in the week, and now I’m just a server. That was my choice, because I want to make sure the kids have what they need here (at home).”
Initially, Maria would take Lucas to preschool, then Scott would pick him up. Now, she’s able to both take the kids to school and pick them up afterward. Scott, then tends to take over once he gets home from work, giving Maria some respite.
“Keeping up with them is not difficult, but it did take some getting used to,” says Scott. “When I come home from work about six or six-thirty in the evening, it’s ‘Poppa, can we do this; Poppa, can we do that?’ And I’m thinking, ‘Dang, I just got here.’ But we have a skate park just two blocks in one direction and a regular park two blocks in the other direction, so we’ll take walks together in the evening.
In the summertime, when we have extra daylight hours, we’ll make time and go down to one of the parks. And, not every weekend, but most weekends, we try to plan something, like going to see Strataca (Underground Salt Museum) in Hutchinson or the indoor water park in Garden City.”
Yet, despite the challenges, they both see their new family as a welcome adventure, especially Scott.
“I didn’t get to raise children in my 20s or 30s, so this is my chance,” he says. “I’m 51 now, and this is my first time doing it. I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I especially love Christmas and birthdays. To see their eyes light up … well, that lights me up inside. I’m going to get choked up now, but that’s what it does for me.”
For Maria, it’s all about the children finally having a permanent place to call home.
“I don’t think I could’ve made it if they hadn’t come here,” she says behind tears. “Just knowing that they feel safe and that they can be themselves means a lot. That’s exactly what I told them when they came here – be who you are.”
“Absolutely,” adds Scott. “It’s hard to imagine not having them here now. They can be happy and be kids.”