The road to adoption is an emotional journey, but one that is filled with love. For the Walsh family, this became personal, as they experienced highs and lows while adopting their teenage son, Trajon, through D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s (DABSJ).
In the narrative below, Michelle, Trajon’s mom, bravely shares the story of the emotional roller coaster that they voyaged with help from a dedicated team of DABSJ social workers who never gave up on Trajon. This journey exemplifies the comprehensive services DABSJ provides families and children, from residential treatment to foster care, adoption and counseling.
During the spring of 2017, when I was a substitute secretary at the local middle school, a counselor approached me trying to find a ride home for a student involved in track. She let me know that he lived in residential care at DABSJ. One night bringing him back to DABSJ, we were casually talking and he told me, “DABSJ is ok. It’s a safe place for kids, but it is a house, not a home. All kids need a home.” It was that night that my husband and I decided we would take the necessary steps to become foster parents, with the goal to eventually adopt our son, Trajon.
I connected with the Foster Care department of DABSJ to begin the process. Trajon started spending more time with us during the school week and weekends, and we were in direct contact with the staff. The residential therapist was always available to provide support, and we also developed a close relationship with his case manager.
School was coming to an end, and we wanted to share with Trajon that we were on our way to becoming licensed foster parents. When the night came, we asked Trajon if he wanted to be a part of our family. While he was kind and grateful, our intentions caught him way off guard and we were met with a “thanks, but no thanks” response.
Like a balloon that had quickly lost its air, we couldn’t catch our feelings. We left that night not knowing what to do, except to keep moving forward. We continued to spend time with Trajon and communicated to him that he didn’t have to make a decision just yet. At the time, we didn’t understand the weight of the world had just been placed on this child, and to expect an answer in that moment would have been impossible.
A couple weeks later, I received a text from Trajon asking if he could come over after school and hang out. “Of course, and let’s plan on dinner” was my response. Then the next day, I got the same text, followed by a request to hang out over the weekend. After the third week of requests, we sat down with Trajon’s case manager to develop a long-term plan. Trajon would live with us 4 days a week and return to DABSJ for days 5-7. It helped him slowly acclimate to our rules, expectations and way of living, as well as give our children time to develop a relationship with him.
As Trajon continued that summer going back and forth, we were introduced to another valuable support, his DABSJ social worker, Audrey. Audrey had spent years building a solid relationship with our son, and he trusted her completely. Audrey was always available to answer questions, provide support, and through the really difficult and dark times, she just listened.
In October 2017 we received our foster care license and Trajon moved in permanently. Around Christmas he began to have doubts about adoption. There was a sense of being rejected on our part, and for him there was the fear of the unknown as well as grief that was bubbling under the surface. We received many essential services throughout foster care, but one that kept us all sane was weekly therapy.
We continued to work toward adoption and reassured Trajon that it was his choice and we would support him either way if he needed more time. When the day came for him to say yes, it felt like a breath of fresh air.
Adoption day, June 20, 2018, is one of the most amazing days we have ever experienced. We met at the courthouse with many DABSJ staff members: his residential, foster care and his adoption workers. The courtroom was filled with joy as each of our children shared with Trajon how excited they were to have him in our family. Staff shared stories and expressed their happiness for Trajon. Trajon shared his gratitude with everyone in the courtroom and let us, his family, know that he loves us. He is our son forever, and we will continue to walk this journey with him everyday.