Three Types of Adoption
Ellie Valdez Honeyman and her husband, Mike, of Arvada, Colorado, were one of 142,000 licensed foster families in the United States. Mike, a Vietnam veteran, was deeply affected by the children devastated by war and vowed, with Ellie, to serve as foster parents back home. In all, 27 kids received their loving care.
But there was always something lacking in the impermanence of foster care, where the typical length of stay can be anywhere from a few months to a few years. Some of the children the Honeymans sadly let go. Others departed to sighs of relief. After seven years, the Honeymans reevaluated their family goals.
"It wasn't our idea of what a family would be like," says Ellie, 52. "The most heartbreaking thing was to take little ones for a visit with their families and not have the parents show up."
Studies show that children who turn 18 in foster care often don't finish high school, or end up in prison or unemployed. Mike and Ellie knew from their own research that adoption solved such troubles. Most foster children who are adopted into stable, loving families turn out the same as any typical child. Plus, foster-care adoptions are the least expensive and can even be free of charge, thanks to government subsidies intended to promote the practice.
So Mike and Ellie were ready when Bob came along. The boy, who had significant learning disabilities, came to the Honeymans as a foster child and became their own. Brenda was adopted into the family next, her Down's syndrome making her even more special. "We kept waiting for Brenda to change our life," Ellie says. "They always say that adopting a kid with special needs is really going to change everything. I assumed that people meant for the worse." Instead, they found a girl always ready with a hug and a smile. So they added to their fold: Laura from Mexico; then two more girls with Down's syndrome, Jami and Sylvie. The toughest part, Ellie says, is getting stares of pity at the grocery store or having to fight to integrate her kids with others in school. When they couldn't find a good job for Bob or Brenda after they graduated, the couple opened a family printing business, Honeyman Envelope and Printing. "Those two have been an anchor of our business from the start," says Ellie. "We're about business, but our business is really about our family."