Maria and Kevin Noonan were enjoying a relaxing vacation when they got a call from their social worker. “You know, we got a little boy in our office who just came in and he wants a family with a dog,” the social worker told them. She knew the Noonan’s had a puppy, and that they had been involved with the adoption process for almost two years. Several weeks later, the Noonan’s were sitting down for ice cream with the little boy, Darius and his foster family.
Meeting Darius was a nerve-wracking experience for the couple, but they connected with him immediately. “He was the cutest thing,” remembers Maria. “It was a lot of emotions all at once. It was overwhelming, but the good kind of overwhelming.”
To add to the emotional process, Darius was not yet legally freed for adoption. This meant there was an extra layer of uncertainty about the match. Nevertheless, as they spent more and more time with him, the Noonan’s relationship with Darius continued to grow.
The Noonan’s started spending time with him once a week, usually on Sunday’s, doing fun family activities in the community. Darius met Maria’s extended family, and they continued to fall more in love with him.
It was a big deal when Darius first slept over at the Noonan's home. He had difficulty trusting others and a fear of being abandoned after many moves over the years. Luckily, because Darius had grown to trust Maria and Kevin through their weekly meetings, the evening was a success, which meant the next step was moving in together.
When he finally transitioned into the Noonan’s home, it was not all sunshine and roses. Darius did not understand that this was a permanent situation and he would not be going back to his foster home. It took a long time for him to really understand that this was home now. Once he adjusted, Maria, Kevin, and Darius entered their family honeymoon stage. This lasted for quite some time – but like with anything, reality started to set in.
Darius, like many foster children, struggled quite a bit to work through his trauma after becoming comfortable in his new home with his family. It was with patience and the help of resources provided by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), that the Noonan’s were able to receive the support they needed to support Darius.
The social workers had him working with an occupational therapist and a speech therapist. Eventually the couple also decided to involve him in play therapy, which he continues to do to this day. All of these resources helped Darius and his parents adjust to their new life together, and it helped them to work through the ups and downs.
Today there are countless “ups.” Darius is six years old and in the first grade. “He is very active,” explains Maria. “He absolutely loves baseball and soccer and swimming in the pool.” The family spends lots of time together going on road trips to New Hampshire and Maine, swimming, and sitting down for big Sunday dinners.
Through the MAPP classes and MARE adoption parties, through the waiting and being matched, and the months it took to finalize their adoption, the Noonan’s became whole. All of the challenges throughout the process have been nothing compared to the love the Noonan’s share for each other as a family.
“People should know it’s not easy and it’s not quick,” says Maria. “It takes time, so be patient.”
Once the Noonan’s went through the full cycle of the adoption process, they understood how it can be emotionally demanding, but also that the right match always comes along. The little boy who wanted a family with a dog found the Noonan’s – and the family with a dog found their perfect, little boy.