Brittney describes her family as “a circus,” but the Milligan family is nothing short of a fun, loving five-some. With the parents, their daughter, and two dogs. While Grace is only in Kindergarten and a “nugget,” according to her mother, her personality is quite large.
Brittney and Sean’s long journey to adoption began when Brittney was a child, and she decided she wanted to adopt when she was older. She found out at an early age that she would have a difficult time having children naturally, so she got very comfortable with the idea of adoption as she got older. Early on in her relationship with Sean, Brittney brought up her desire to adopt and it didn’t take much for him to get on board. Sean never had any big hang ups and it never concerned him that he couldn’t have a biological child. He just wanted to help share his life with a kid. Grace perfectly sums it up, “he wanted a child, and I am the child. He wanted me.”
Three years ago they started the adoption process. Seeing someone and getting the information about adoption. They visited a nonprofit group that guides families in deciding which adoption paths to take, and the Milligan’s decided to go through the state of Massachusetts. They met with a social worker at their home, got to know each other, and what Brittney and Sean were looking for as far as a child and who would be a best fit in their family.
A year later, after taking MAPP class and awaiting their completed home study, they were legally able to adopt. After that, everything happened so quickly. They used the MARE website quite frequently to look through the children looking to be adopted. Brittney had seen Grace’s photo first, but at that time, she was pictured with her brother as they were being adopted together. After some time, she went back to look at Grace’s photo and noticed that she was photographed by herself. After talking to Grace’s social worker and learning more about her, the Milligan’s expressed interest in bring her in into their family. “We were very, very lucky that [DCF] chose us to be her family…which was the best phone call I could have ever gotten,” Brittney states.
Grace remembers the day that Brittney and Sean picked her up. The parents brought her a stuffed rainbow elephant, named Pinky and she still has it to this day. Brittney and Sean first met Grace in her foster home, but they didn’t know what to expect. “The door flung open and Grace said, ‘Hi new mommy and daddy!’ and we took it from there,” Brittney says. Grace has been there about a year and a half, having moved-in with the Milligan’s around Christmas time.
The adoption process did come with some frustrations, however; but the family took them in stride. Brittney and Sean advise to get to know the social workers – Sean notes that they know the ins and outs of the process, and have vast knowledge of the process. They note that both Grace’s and the parent’s social workers were very responsive, helpful and overall fantastic to work with. Additionally, they advise families who are looking to adopt to get to know as much information as possible, and be weary of any potential misinformation as well, particularly with the DCF system and process, for example, stereotypes with the foster children and the cost of adoption through the state (there is no cost when adopting through foster care). “There are thousands of kids who need placements, and there are lots of people that want to take kids in, but they don’t because they hear some weird stories from somebody that doesn’t have [the right] information.”
Speaking on what they’ve learned from their social worker and the whole process, the parents reflect on what helps them navigate the other side of adoption: parenting. Sean’s experience as a special education teacher lends an extra helping hand in being a parent, particularly to Grace.
“My personality is one that is geared more towards kids that are a bit outside of the box, so Gracie fits within that spectrum,” Sean says. Brittney goes on to say that his profession and personality does matter, and that he knows how to appropriately proactively and reactively respond to Grace’s behavior and spunky attitude. All in all, the adoption process and having Grace as their daughter, is worth the circus to Brittney and Sean.