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Karen’s story is particularly special because she has experienced adoption in a way that most Heart Mamas have not – she was adopted into her own family as a child and has also chosen to grow her family through adoption. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Karen.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

Justin and I have been together since we were 19. We love the outdoors and the beach. We are in the process of moving to Nairobi for Justin’s work on a three year secondment.  I am a school teacher but full time mom for now.  We have two biological children, Jess and Matt and have adopted our third child, Ben.

Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?

Yes, my brother and I were adopted so adoption has always held a special place in my heart and I was always wanting a big family. It took a bit of time for Justin to come around to the idea, but he knew that it was something that was very important to me. Ben is just the best little guy ever, he has made our family complete.

Did you use an agency or did you adopt through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?

We used Child Welfare and we had an excellent experience. We didn’t stop phoning to inquire about what stage they were at in the process and it all went pretty smoothly.

What was the hardest part of the process?

The not knowing when things were going to happen – from being approved as prospective adoptive parents, to being matched, getting the court order, then the name change process and then finally receiving Ben’s new birth certificate.

What was your first night together as a family like?

Ben is a super sleeper and was in such a great routine. There was great excitement from our other two kids as both of them wanted to share the room with their new baby brother.

What is your funniest adoption-related family story?

Our son Ben is a very sturdy boy, a family friend said upon seeing a photo of him, ‘Wow, he’s a big boy, but I guess that’s cause he takes after Justin.’

Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?

We brought Ben home the day before his first Birthday so birthdays are extra special celebrations for us.

Advice for the screening process?

Be honest. It easy to stress yourself out about everything but he Social Workers are just there to chat and see you are decent human beings so be confident in who you are.

How can friends and family best support those adopting?

By accepting their decision to adopt a child of a different race and by just being a friend to someone who is expecting a baby – adoption is just as special as giving birth so don’t disregard it as being less important.

Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?

Embrace diversity.

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