When Rod, a caseworker at Arms Wide Adoption Services, agreed to drive a six-year-old named Steven to an Astros game, he didn’t realize he was about to meet his son. However, as soon as Steven hopped in the backseat, Rod knew this kid was special.
“He immediately started to hum to the music on the radio,” Rod recalls. “I was impressed that he had that kind of rhythm at his young age.”
At the Astros game, Steven sat with his birth sister. Rod spent time talking with the siblings, but recognized that Steven’s birth sister often answered questions on his behalf and talked over her brother. However, Steven stood up for himself and told his sister that he’d like to answer questions for himself. Rod was charmed by Steven’s spunk. Rod remembers this as the moment when he realized Steven was meant to join his family.
Passion For Foster Care Adoption
Rod has worked for Arms Wide Adoption Services since January 1995, so he felt prepared to adopt. He found his career at Arms Wide Adoption Services due to his passion for foster care and adoption. As a kid, he had friends who had been in foster care or who had been adopted. Although he’s been at his position for 22 years, he still treasures the moment when a family is perfectly matched with a child.
“It’s still exciting seeing the right match, seeing a new family being made.” he says, smiling.
Before pursuing adoption to grow his own family, he gained plenty of experience as a caseworker. He witnessed parents inspired by a spiritual urge to give kids homes, while others were daunted by the difficulties children in foster care have experienced. He considered himself ready to go through the adoption process, but says when you’re adopting into your own family, “All your own advice goes out the door.” He had to learn to take up any and every resource that was available, and realized, despite his years of experience, he still needed plenty of help throughout his adoption journey.
During their pre-placement visits, the Martins took Steven to fun, family activities to bond with him. However, after the adoption, Steven had to adapt to a regular routine and an emphasis on his schoolwork. He was in first grade and faced educational challenges, since his foster parents hadn’t worked with him closely on his academics. Steven took time to realize that everyday wouldn’t be full of fun activities and that he couldn’t receive every toy or game he wanted. Rod remembers: “Once he realized he wasn’t going to get everything that he asked for, life leveled out somewhat.” As soon as Steven joined his forever home, he expressed his love for his new parents. Rod says:
“He was and still is a very affectionate child so we took great joy in the hugs and smiles.”
Rod acknowledges that adoption can be a difficult journey. He reminds prospective parents that, while a loving home is essential, adopted kids or kids in foster care often need therapies or other resources to heal from abuse or neglect, or to learn how to build trust. Perseverance is important, because every child can thrive with the right support systems. Rod cites a family whose case he managed. The child they adopted had suffered severe abuse and neglect for two years, so coping with his own traumatic history and adapting to a loving home was a huge struggle for this boy. Nevertheless, his adoptive parents didn’t give up on him, and Rod connected them to therapies and professional support which helped him heal. Because of his parents’ persistence and his own hard work, this young man graduated high school, attended trade school, and is a happy, healthy adult.
“Adoption is a choice that isn’t a very easy choice to make,” Rod admits. “You give up part of yourself, your life, and your current family when you make the leap to adopt.”
But Rod believes it was all worthwhile, saying “the positives far outweigh the negatives.” The giving of your time and heart to a child in need? Rod says that’s “the most special part.” And that little boy humming in the back seat? It’s been seven years since they met, and Steven’s only grown more talented and assertive, and Rod’s eyes still twinkle when he talks about him.