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Multiple Adoptions and THEN the Big Twist

Updated On: April 25, 2024

In the new episode of Family Twist, Corey has the pleasure of speaking with Whitney and Ryan, a couple with an incredible family story that will surely touch your heart. Their journey through foster care, adoption and unexpected surprises is a testament to the power of love, commitment and family. Press play to immerse yourself in their beautiful story.

Highlights:

Whitney and Ryan’s decision to foster and adopt after learning they couldn’t have biological children.

The challenges and joys of their first foster placement, including the rapid transition from a quiet home to a lively one filled with three young boys.

The significant moments that marked their bonding with the children, such as the kids choosing to call them mom and dad.

The process of adopting their three boys and the surprise addition of their biological sister to the family.

The shocking and miraculous news of Whitney’s pregnancy, adding another beautiful twist to their family story.

Whitney and Ryan and their kids on Good Morning America

Transcript

00:00

Welcome back to the show. I'm very, very excited to have Whitney and Ryan with us today. They have an incredible family story that I'm just super, super thrilled to hear. So I'm just going to let them take it away. And so Whitney, Ryan, let's go back a few years and talk about the fact that you didn't think you were going to be able to have children.

00:29

Yeah, so we didn't know this when we started to foster, but when we got our first placement, we were told that we would be struck by lightning before we would get pregnant naturally and have a successful pregnancy. And so that was a hard hit, but it also allowed us to really

00:58

kind of sit in comfort with the idea that we were already going to foster and adopt. So it was like, okay, well, clearly here's our plan anyways, so it's okay. So did you have anything to say about that? I don't want to talk the whole time. That's normally what I do.

01:27

We found that out and after the initial kind of shock and blow, I guess you could call it, we were perfectly fine with it.

01:37

Okay. So let's talk a little bit about that first place. What was it like those first, you know, few days of fostering? Terrifying. It was terrifying. It's not wrong. It was funny because if I recall correctly, I came home from work one night and it was almost like, hey, daddy's home. It was like, hi guys. And I've got all these kids running around me and...

02:05

Usually I'd come home to a nice quiet house, but those days were obviously going to be long gone overnight. Yeah. So it was a two hour turnaround. And so, yeah, Ryan came home from work and he was like, okay, this is what we're doing. All right. We did sign up for this. What were the ages of the boys when they arrived? They were 20 months, just turned three and four and a half.

02:35

And there were a lot of challenges. No one was potty trained anger outbursts. Even the four year old couldn't answer questions like what's your favorite color? He might say broccoli like he didn't. There was no communication skills. So that added an extra layer of challenge of like, OK. And then they were all incredibly sick with the flu, RSV.

03:06

It was...we didn't know if we'd be able to continue after that first week because there was such a lack of sleep. There were hospital visits, there were doctor visits, but we knew that we loved these kids like immediately. Well, I know that, you know, foster parents go through extensive training, but I imagine there's no training that's going to completely prepare you for one way or another. Not at all.

03:34

Not at all. And literally, like the store worker comes over and is like, all right, here are these kids, this is their name. Here's this lady that's going to take care of you. And bye. It's like, okay, here we go. So, but luckily, we had good social workers that were really supportive of us. And so we definitely appreciate the process and encourage other people to do it. But that's...

04:01

first week or so of a new placement can be completely overwhelming, to say the least. Was there like an aha moment or like going over the first part of the roller coaster where it was like, okay, I'm seeing progress here? Yeah. When you started eating the vegetables that they needed so badly because they were in an email. It was like, okay, here we go. We're making a turn here. They're starting to eat their vegetables. We made it a rule that.

04:30

You didn't get the rest of your food until you had your vegetables first. And that's really what kind of, they're like, okay, well I'm ready to eat. So let me get these vegetables down. And it worked like it's armed. It was, uh, and when they finally just bought into it, I mean, now it's like automatic for them, they go for the veggies. Yeah. Um, wouldn't it have been nice? Um, but I think the turn for me was when, especially our oldest could start to, um,

04:59

communicate with us. And they chose early on to call us mom and dad. And that was something that was a title they had never had in the past. Because their birth parents did not they went by their given names, not mom and dad. And so the first time I heard that out of their mounts by choice, which was

05:28

in the first week, it was like, oh, whoo, okay. So I think those were the two biggest turning points for me. Yeah, that happened pretty early on too. It was like within a week, it was mom and dad. Yeah. Wow, that's heavy. I mean, that's, I can only imagine what I'm done got goosebumps right now, but I can only imagine like what that felt like in your hearts. Oh, it was amazing in one way and heartbreaking in another that

05:56

they had attached to us that quickly. I put the two older boys to bed in their room and I was closing the door and turning off the light. The oldest says, good night dad, I love you. And it's like, yeah, I love you too. And it was a shock. I mean, I've known these boys for like a week and it's like, I love you dad. It's like, wow, like, okay. Like they must be, they were just obviously desperate for.

06:26

love, really. Well, and I think it just says a lot about what you were able to give them even in one week. I'm just getting chills thinking back to it and just how quickly we saw change because all of them got into physical therapy, speech therapy, OT. And all of our kids are incredibly intelligent and just how quickly the change from anger because they were in pain, from

06:56

a lot of rotted teeth and other things going on. But as soon as all of that was taken care of, they were able to share their emotions instead of lashing out. And before we started fostering, I like to call them two-legged animals, we fostered a lot of four-legged animals. And we fostered Fitt to see him go from lashing out to loving on them because he was able to communicate instead of throwing big tantrums. That was the only way he could get his...

07:25

energy and communication across. It was huge. And then six weeks in, we had a house fire and ended up having to move out of our house, moved into a hotel for a month with the three boys, and then ended up moving into a rental property for what, five months, I think it was. And then

07:52

back to that house and then decided to buy a different house and move out to the country I think two months later. So all of that on top of COVID. I don't know how we survived 2020 to be honest with you, but here we are. So wow. A lot happening in a short amount of time, but then when did the next twist arrive?

08:19

We knew we were working towards adoption with our three boys fairly quickly. Unfortunately, their bio parents were not working their plan and lots of issues there. So we signed up for adoption quickly. So we got our boys in January of 2020, and then we finalized the adoption in April of 2021, which is a very quick turnaround from foster to adopt.

08:48

So I just want anybody who's thinking about fostering to know that that's not typically the timeline, but, um, so we chose a date out of thin air, um, to finalize the adoption on, and, uh, they had given us a window and so we chose April 22nd, um, adoption finalized. We went out and celebrated with family. Um, and then the next morning.

09:17

One of the adoption social workers was supposed to come over to drop off some things for the kids. And she calls and says, Hey, are you going to be there? I need to talk to you. And I'm thinking, oh my gosh, they're about to take my kids back. Like the adoption didn't go through all the, what does this have to do with us? She's like, well, as far as we're aware, she's a full biological sister. Do y'all want to take her?

09:46

So to back up a little bit, our boys have another sister that was placed in another home when the three boys were placed with us because she was actually in the NICU and very medically fragile, and we could not take on a medically fragile child at that time. Plus the NICU she was in was an hour and a half from our house. So she was in a different house. So that...

10:15

foster family had adopted her just a few days before our boys adoption finalized. And, um, we were contacted as well as them. And we are very lucky that we have a wonderful relationship with their sister's parents. Um, and they knew that we had found out we weren't going to be able to have biological kids, but I still wanted to experience an infant and.

10:45

So they very graciously said, let Whitney and Ryan have the decision. And if they choose or if they say they cannot take on this little girl, then we will. So either way, the baby was going to be with a sibling or siblings. Um, so luckily they can't take our daughter back now so I can share this story.

11:11

So the adoption social worker is standing here and she's like, well, do you want to call Ryan? I call Ryan who's at work and I'm like, are you sitting down? He's like, yeah. Well, there's a baby girl and he's, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. We're not doing it. Nope. I'm like, okay, I love you. Bye. And I hang up and I'm like, yes, we will take her. So I came home or he came home from work.

11:40

to beer and pizza and his parents here. And I realized she had done something. And so we picked up our daughter from the hospital three days later, which was another roller coaster ride. There was back and forth there about if there would be a biological family placement. So it wasn't as smooth as the story sounds, but.

12:02

We were able to pick her up at three days old at the hospital and she's been with us since and her adoption was finalized in January of 2022, which was also very quick because the biological parents ended up signing their rights over specifically to us. So that she could grow up with her brothers. Did the boys, excuse me, sorry, did the boys immediately understand that this was their sister?

12:31

So I actually was talking to my mom about this the other day. I don't think they are. They understand because they are so young, our oldest just turned eight, um, that she is what we would call a biological sister. They just kind of accepted her.

12:49

immediately. And so they have never asked if their biological parents are her biological parents. They know they're adopted. We've never tried to hide that from them. And so it'd be kind of weird to hide that from them considering we've never tried to play down that fact. So they just know that we went to the hospital to get her and that's what they say. So...

13:19

I'm assuming that conversation, especially with our oldest, because he's so inquisitive, is coming, but they haven't asked yet. Do the boys have any memories from before they came to live with you? Yeah, unfortunately, it typically pops up in not so great memories, because it was a very bad situation for everybody involved.

13:46

And so there have been memories that have popped up, especially with our oldest. Um, and he'll say, you know, he, um, was beat with a belt. Those types of things are the memories that he shares. And so we have to talk about, like, you know, that that's never going to happen to you again. And, um, you're safe here. And so, and he's, yeah, I know that. And, um, so unfortunately it's those memories that come up.

14:15

But yeah, they do. Well, if we ended the story right here, I think it would still be amazing, but this isn't the end of the story. Whoa, it's not. So we got our daughter on, or in April of 2021 and then September of 2021, I went to my normal OB visit, of course.

14:42

As most ladies know, you have to do a pregnancy test. Um, and so I always rolled my eyes at those. I'm sitting out in the hallway waiting on the results. And, um, Ryan had kept saying, you're pregnant, you're pregnant. And we had had COVID, we were stressed from remodeling the house and blah, blah, um, so I'm like, I'm not pregnant. And so I had told the nurse that, um, and she comes out and she says, well, you probably can't say this very often, but your husband was right.

15:12

And I scream, I dropped my phone, and people are like coming out of their offices and with their patients because I had screamed so loud they thought somebody was hurt. So we find that out. Ryan had had knee surgery that morning. So I come home and he's doped up from his knee surgery and I'm like, so you were right. And he's like, yep, I was right. I was right.

15:41

Yep, yep. It's a really good way to ruin a medicated-induced buzz. Absolutely, yeah. I was sitting at the top of the sun and was like, hey, wake up. You can be a daddy. It's like... So, Ryan, I see a little salt and pepper in your beard. Did that exist before the kids came, or was that a result of... Like three gray hairs. For some reason, it just exploded. I wonder why. Where did that possibly come from?

16:10

Wow. Yeah. And so my mom had been here to help us take care of the kids because of Ryan's knee surgery. And so I went and I told Ryan, and then of course, I immediately had to tell my mom because I'm the worst at keeping big secrets like that. And then we immediately had to call his parents over. And then we kind of stopped it at that like we will, because I was only six weeks along at that point, but It was

16:40

Okay. Incredible. Was it a challenging pregnancy or did they say it was going to be a challenging pregnancy at the time? No, um, my OB is wonderful. And she was very supportive of like kind of helping me with my anxiety. Did blood work often to make sure everything was going as well as we could, or we could know.

17:10

We did the fetal heartbeat just like two weeks after we found out. Um, and it ended up being a completely normal pregnancy. Um, very tired and nauseous all the time, you know, so it was a challenging time with four little ones already, but, um, and then Ryan, just to make sure that this didn't happen again, went and got a vasectomy, um, while I was pregnant. So that.

17:40

Hopefully there won't be like a surprise sixth child, but oh was the reaction of the the siblings when you know You explained it that you were pregnant They were so excited they were obsessed with hearing the heartbeat And they wanted more than one belt or a baby in my belly and I was like, no, no like we're not doing that still They want more babies still I

18:08

I would want to put it past her and our situation, our crazy story, if there was a litter in there. Her just pop out four or five of them. It would go well with the story. Our kids want more babies. They want more siblings. We're like, nope, we're done, guys. We're done. Our van is maxed out. At this point, we'd have to move up to this 12 passenger van. No, we're good. Sorry. So, they were very excited.

18:37

and could not wait for their little brother, we found out, was a boy, to come home. Wow. What has the last year been like in your house?

18:49

loud, messy. But great. Our kids are incredible. And of course, they have their moments that they're fighting and all of that, but they get along. For the most part, they're constantly on the go. The our oldest and our youngest have this incredible bond.

19:19

Um, and our oldest had the option of having his own room. Um, but he wanted to share with his baby brother. Um, so it's been incredible to see the bonding that goes on between them. Um, our two, we call them bigs, the three bigs and the two littles. So our two littles are incredibly bonded as well.

19:49

Um, and so just to see like the dynamic play out between the five kids and how it's constantly evolving and moving and it's just amazing. What's life been like for you over the last year? I'm tired. I tell people I'm tired all the time. And even when I'm not tired, I'm still tired. Like, Oh, I got a solid point out of sleep. I'm still tired. I don't.

20:18

I think that's a go away anytime soon, but none of the kids have, they're great kids. They've come so far and sometimes it's good to just take a step back and just kind of reminisce about where they've come from and just try to remember how bad things were at one point and see where they are today and see the complete turnaround in behavior, see them not only getting caught up educationally and developmentally.

20:48

But actually excelling like all of our kids are straight A students. They're in that academically gifted programs at school. Um, yeah, they're just amazing. Yeah. So incredible kids. I'm proud of them every day. So, well, we're honored that you're sharing your story with us. And I just have to say you're a beautiful couple and it sounds like you have.

21:15

the best family, you know, kids and an extended family and everything. It's really heartwarming to hear. I appreciate that and I appreciate you giving us this platform to share our story because that was something that we kind of struggled with to start with. It was like, how much do we share? Because it's our kids story to share in my opinion. And we also want to encourage other people

21:44

to foster and or adopt. Unfortunately, the foster care system isn't perfect. And there are lots of kids that need loving homes, especially permanent loving homes. And in North Carolina, where we are, the state maxes you out at five. So whether that's biological, adopted, foster, that's where you are, unless it's a special case, like sibling sets or something.

22:13

So the minute we found out we were pregnant, our license, basically we had to shut it down. We have our hands full. So I think you've done your part. We had to close on the phone. We discussed when a local news agency reached out to do a story on us and it was something we had to definitely talk about that if we wanted to share.

22:41

Because again, I feel like it's our kids story to share more so than ours, even though we're a big part of it. But you know, but decided that it would be worth it if we could encourage one family to foster. And it's a wild ride. It's a bumpy ride, but it's a great ride. And these kids are just looking for love and stability.

23:11

And hopefully there are other people out there who can open their homes and hearts to some of these kids. I hope so too. So Whitney, Ryan, we appreciate you and we appreciate you being willing to share your story. And we'll let you know if any other twists or turns come along. Please do.

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