Deciding to Adopt
Emily and Trey Bradford have several family members who were adopted, so the idea of adoption has always been in the back of their minds. When they struggled to have biological children, they started to consider adoption seriously as a way of growing their own forever family. “I was tired of wanting to be a mom and not doing anything about it,” Emily said.
So she Googled “adoption services Houston,” and within ten minutes, Emily was on the phone with an Arms Wide team member. They talked for two hours, and Emily never looked back.
“On the outside, I thought it was going to be so difficult,” Emily said. “Arms Wide made it as easy as it could be. They hold your hand, and getting through home study was breeze.”
Emily and Trey received their license to adopt in the spring of 2020, right as the pandemic was beginning to wreak havoc on Houston. With all the economic uncertainty, they decided to put their process on hold.
By June 2020, they felt ready; within a month, they were matched with a sibling group of five. However, soon after being chosen, the court decided the siblings would remain where they were for adoption. Although struggling to understand and devastated, Emily and Trey moved forward committed to finding their forever family.
They soon met with their Arms Wide adoption coordinator, Roderick Martin, to start the matching process again. Soon after that meeting, a caseworker called: two boys desperately needed a home. “We saw a picture of them, and we fell in love,” Emily recalled. Three weeks later, they went to Dallas to meet the boys for the first time.
“We saw a picture of them, and we fell in love,” Emily recalled.
From the Park to Christmas Morning
Aidan and Le’Derion, ages 7 and 8, met Emily and Trey in a park with their caseworker. Everyone was nervous and unsure about how the meeting would go. Emily remembers one of Aidan’s first timid questions: “Do y’all like to do fun things?”
They gradually fell into their parent/child roles, but it was a learning process. The boys had spent two years in a children’s home and had to “unlearn” group home behaviors. A group home can feel like being in school all the time, so going to a family life setting was a big adjustment!
Leading up to Christmas, Emily asked the boys to write their wish list for Santa. This was an adjustment for the boys as well: one said to the other, “you’re only going to get one Christmas gift anyway, so just pick one and tell her.” The feeling of family hit them all on Christmas morning when the boys ran down the stairs and exclaimed, “Santa really did come!” That beautiful morning, it was not only about the gifts piled high around the Christmas tree.
As Emily said, “We realized we’re a family: that they have us and we have them.”
Learning “This is Forever”
They soon learned that they could weather storms together as a family. In February 2021, their house flooded during Winter Storm Uri, and they moved several times over the next few months while they waited for repairs. Despite the chaos, it showed the boys that Emily and Trey would protect them and keep them close during hard times. Fortunately, they were back in their house just in time for their adoption finalization on June 9!
Leading up to the finalization, the boys were excited but had lots of questions. Slowly, they were learning that Emily and Trey weren’t going to give up on them. They started to understand that it was safe to talk about their feelings and ask, “Is this forever?”
For the Bradfords, life after finalization feels different. For one thing, “it’s a life without paperwork,” as Emily noted: they can take the boys to the doctor without sending in documentation. Instead, they have more time to give the boys new experiences, like camping, fishing, 4-wheeling, and family road trips. With a stable life and a forever family, the boys can participate in sports: 9-year old Le’Derion is on a basketball team, and 7-year old Aidan is in Little League. This life now is “the culmination of many years of want and hope for our forever family, and it’s the best thing I could imagine,” said Emily.
Advice for Future Adoptive Parents
Emily acknowledges that the adoption process can seem daunting. Patience is key, and everything will work out in the end. “Your time will come,” Emily says. “When we lost the first sibling match, we realized that wasn’t supposed to be.”
To Emily, adoption has two sides: “one is the comfort of knowing this is forever, the other is grief of the loss of the children’s first family.”
“It is wonderful and really hard at the same time.”
Families should expect to experience joy and heartache at the same time, but Emily encourages them to “take the leap of faith because there are kids out there who need parents.” For the Bradfords, this was the hardest and best thing they have ever done. But it was all worth it to have their forever family.