About five years ago, through no fault of his own, Jacob entered the Texas foster care system with his six siblings. Moved from home to home, Jacob recalls how no one quite understood him or his story.
Michelle Garcia was ready to start her family. She contacted Arms Wide Adoption Services, then Spaulding for Children, in 2015 to help.
“From the moment I walked in their doors, I really felt they were there to help me and make the process smoother,” Michelle said.
Michelle first met Jacob when she hosted him and his sister for respite care. Respite care provides foster parents with temporary rest, while foster children are able to continue to receive support in a safe and nurturing environment. During their first visit, Michelle felt connected to Jacob, but knew he would go back to be with his foster family.
In April 2016, Arms Wide Adoption Services contacted Michelle about caring for Jacob during an emergency respite situation. Knowing Jacob was a good kid, Michelle immediately agreed. During their two weeks together, Michelle and Jacob made many memories, documenting them with pictures. They spent plenty of time together, including an hour drive every morning and afternoon, so Jacob wouldn’t have to change schools.
When the two weeks allowed by the state for respite care were up, Michelle received no answers about where Jacob would go next. With so much uncertainty ahead, Jacob cried. He didn’t want to leave Michelle.
Michelle contacted Arms Wide Adoption Services about what her options were. She said the Arms Wide staff was there for her. They told her she could adopt Jacob, but really walked her through the process and asked her to sleep on it. When Michelle woke up the next morning, she knew all of this was happening for a reason – she wanted to make Jacob her son.
“I couldn’t let him go,” Michelle said. “I wanted to adopt him.”
When Michelle met with Jacob after school, she told him the good news.
“I was happy,” Jacob said. “I finally have a family who loves me.”
Jacob gave Michelle a big hug, and they celebrated by going out for ice cream. While they were out, Jacob folded a heart from an index card in Michelle’s back seat and left it for her in the car window. His journey to find a loving family was finally over.
During the placement period, the months Jacob and Michelle spent together before the adoption could be final, Arms Wide Adoption Services continued to be there for them. Arianne Riebel, Manager of Foster Care and Adoption Programs, spent five hours with Jacob and Michelle, helping them bond and work through any of the challenges they were having as a new family.
“That wasn’t something Arianne had to do,” Michelle said. “We had a case worker, but Arianne took her own personal time and caring to do that for us.”
In December 2016, Jacob joined the Garcia family forever, and the entire Arms Wide team who followed their story from the beginning was there to celebrate. Now, their favorite pastimes include just being together. Joined by Jeff, Michelle’s boyfriend, this family of three enjoys taking walks with the dog, playing board games like Monopoly and Exploding Kittens and continuing to bond every day.