November is recognized as National Adoption Month. For one northern Kentucky family, this year is a cause for celebration. The Shepherd family is one step closer to finalizing adoption of the young girl they have been fostering the past five years.
Jimmy and Lauren Shepherd are foster parents through DCCH Center for Children and Families (DCCH). They have had their ups and downs since the sweet and talented Taylin came into their home. When they started fostering Taylin at age five, they had no children of their own and were unsure if this journey into parenthood would be a permanent one. What they did know was that they had extra time, extra room, and extra love to share. The day they brought Taylin into their home, they were nervous, but that feeling was soon replaced with love. Taylin fit perfectly into their family.
At the beginning, the Shepherds were thinking this was strictly a foster placement, so they did their best to connect with Taylin’s birth parents. Taylin would spend weekends with her birth family and the Shepherds tried to support that relationship and work towards reunification.
Lauren said, “at first, our dream scenario was for Taylin to return to her birth parents and for us to be a continued support for the family.”
At one visit, Taylin’s birth father told Jimmy and Lauren that if he was unable to get his child back, he hoped that they would adopt her. The Shepherds agreed and decided that they would adopt Taylin if she was unable to return home. When the Court reached that decision, it was heartbreaking, but in Taylin’s best interest.
Having Taylin be a part of their family, showed Jimmy and Lauren that they loved being parents. Soon their family grew even more, as they welcomed twins into the world last December. Taylin loves being a big sister and is caring and helpful with her baby brother and sister.
DCCH Adoption Director, Ron Bertsch said, “Jimmy and Lauren are some of the kindest, most empathetic, and generous people to have been engaged with DCCH. All who have had the privilege to know and work with the Shepherds dearly love and respect them. Having known Taylin from the beginning, she is one lucky young lady, and the Shepherds are blessed to be her forever parents.”
If you are thinking about fostering or adopting, Lauren offers this advice, “It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do and the most rewarding.” Jimmy agrees, “It’s the best thing you’ll ever do. Some people think they can’t foster because it will be too hard to say goodbye. However, this is who the child needs - someone who loves them so much that the goodbyes are hard.”
Jimmy loves that they can provide Taylin with many opportunities. She’s a bright child with many gifts. She has a passion for music, she’s a talented singer, and is learning to play the trumpet with her adoptive father. She is also artistic and has an interest in science. However, the first thing that others notice about Taylin is her kind heart, followed by her warm hugs. She even won an award in school for being the most generous.
DCCH has finalized 150 adoptions within 83 different families since the program began. Currently there is one more family, like the Shepherds, who are close to permanently adding two more children to their family.
There are about 114,000 children in the US waiting to find their forever families.