Kinship Care Is All About Family

September 2023 · Foster Family Features, Kinship

Since September is National Kinship Care Month, we thought it appropriate to share the story of the Corn family, our most recent Kansas Kinship Family of the Year.

“Our birth children, Landon and Natalie, were 10 and 3-years-old when ‘J’ came to live with us,” said Rachel Corn. “It was a hard adjustment at first, especially for Landon. Mom and Dad’s attention, time, and resources were divided by three, then ‘C’ came along to make it four. Now, the kids all get along great and act just like siblings.”

Rachel and Curtis never planned to have more children, but like many kinship parents, the Great Bend couple couldn’t imagine any other option. Struggling with addiction, Rachel’s sister was unable to properly care for her daughter, “J”, so in September 2021, the 2-year-old moved into her aunt and uncle’s house. Unfortunately, “J” did not like that arrangement at all. Fiercely attached to her mother, she acted especially negatively towards Rachel, who struggled to support “J’s” bond with her mom, while caring for her in a positive, stable way.

Then along came “C.” Shortly before Christmas 2021, the Corns’ Saint Francis worker contacted them about taking in their nephew, “J” biological half-brother. Just days old, “C” was born addicted. He faced a tough road.

The family immediately accepted “C” as their own, and Rachel embarked on a journey of education about the special needs of drug exposed infants. With no prior experience, her life evolved into a series of specialist appointments, neurological consultations, and support groups. Having no idea what was “normal” for “C”, she found herself frustrated, scared, and tired. Fortunately, she had help to guide her through that tough time.

“The whole process has been very eye-opening,” she said. “We really have had the best caseworkers, support workers, CASA workers, and kinship workers. We wouldn’t have made it without them. We’d never had to deal with drug-exposed children, especially an infant going through withdrawal. But God has healed these children and given them a life no one would have expected, considering what they went through. We take it day by day and just cry, hug, play, and love each other. Curtis and I support each other through the good and the bad.”

And they’ve decided they’re in for the long haul.

“We are two years in and will go to court later this month to determine if my sister’s parental rights will be severed,” said Rachel. Depending on how that turns out, we hope to begin the adoption process for both children afterwards.”

It’s been a rough two years, but the Corns have handled it like a family – a family of six. And they can’t imagine themselves without “J” and “C” in their home.

“This process has changed everything,” said Rachel. “I’ve learned that I can’t make everything perfect or be a perfect mother. I’ve learned to ask for help, slow down, and take each moment as it comes. I’ve always thought I was a patient person, but I’ve learned a whole new level of patience. Mostly, though, I’ve learned that love is a great way to start healing. It’s been hard, but we know that as a family, we can conquer any rough road and valley.”