The Adoptive Family Portrait Project: The Hunt Family
By Claudia Hutchison, Project Writer for Voice for Adoption
Christine Hunt adopted her son D'Andre ("DJ") as a single mom. DJ was placed into state custody when he was just five years old. He lived in group homes for the majority of his time in state care.
Now age thirteen, DJ's interests are typical of boys his age. He likes to play video games, create with Legos, and collect baseball cards. Music is an important part of DJ's life. He has a beautiful singing voice and he has just started taking guitar lessons. Mother and son are both sports aficionados. Together they cheer on their favorite teams, the Patriots and the Red Sox. Their favorite players are Tom Brady and David Ortiz.
Christine says proudly of her son, "DJ is resilient and always shows a positive attitude. He is kind, funny, and very out-going. He does well in school and is a very hard worker." Like most children deprived of a family for so long, DJ sometimes struggles with the social aspect of life. He is steadily learning the skills required to make and keep friends.
Foster children come to their new families with histories of emotional pain and loss. These were not new experiences to Christine, who had been widowed before she looked into older child adoptions. Initially responding to a local PSA campaign, Christine credits several entities with influencing her adoption efforts: NBC 10 Patrice Wood's Tuesday's Child segment, Adoption RI, DCYF, and Communities for People.
Speaking of her decision to adopt an older child, Christine says, "Every child deserves a home. Most people adopting want babies. Older children are often overlooked. As [a] single mom having to go to work, having an older child has been an advantage."
In the beginning, Christine's extended family had some reservations about her decision. Seeing all the available post adoption support and resources changed their minds.
Christine has attended a seminar on trauma and attachment provided by Adoption RI. She has participted in parent support groups, where she was given information on how to advocate for her child's education. DJ has a PASS (personal assistance [services] and supports) worker through Ocean State Behavioral, a service provided from CEDARR Family Center. A therapist who specializes in attachment has been helping Christine learn to parent in ways that are most advantageous for her son. DJ also sees a therapist who is helping him deal with all of his past trauma.
Christine Hunt asks members of Congress to understand the importance of post adoptive services. "Most children adopted from foster care have very traumatic pasts. Although they now have a loving family and stability, supports still need to be put in place to help them to heal and to succeed with their new family." Christine believes that more people would adopt from foster care if they were aware of the post adoption supports.
Like Christine, DJ is also an outspoken advocate for the adoption of older youth. "Adoption is awesome. I now have the best Mom ever!"
DJ reports the greatest challenge with adoption was the waiting. "It seemed like I waited forever to get adopted." To other foster youth awaiting adoption, DJ advises, "You need to behave, hang in there, be patient, and never lose hope."
DJ's story was included in Voice for Adoption's booklet, The Adoptive Family Portrait Project, from November 2014. Their story was supported by U.S. Congress Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), who is a participating member of the 2014 Adoptive Family Portrait Project. To find out more about the Annual Adoptive Family Portrait Project, visit Voice for Adoption's website: http://voice-for-adoption.org/special_projects.