As a single, 26-year-old woman, Jen Rigano wasn’t sure exactly what it was going to be like to be a parent when she began pursuing the adoption process. “Becoming a parent is never what you expect,” she explained, “whether you adopt or have your own.”
Jen always knew that she wanted to adopt, so when she felt that it was time for her to start her family as a single parent, she knew that adoption would be the right way for her to do so. While Jen now has two children and is in the process of adopting her third, navigating the process on her own wasn’t always easy.
Through training and the oftentimes frustrating waiting period that comes before being matched with a child, she had her parents to rely on and support her. Not having someone physically in the home with her through the process was difficult, but she had her family to bounce ideas and thoughts off of whenever she needed them.
Jen ended up being matched with her daughter, Marian, in 2013 after attending one of MARE’s matching events at Jordan’s Furniture. “Every time I talk to people about adoption,” she said, “I tell them, ‘Go to those nights. They’re awesome!’”
She met Marian’s social worker at the event, where she was told that she could be a good match for Marian. Two or three months went by with no contact from the social worker, and as Jen began to lose hope about the potential match, she received a phone call. Three weeks later, Marian was living with Jen. After a year and a half, the adoption was finalized.
Jen met her son, Tyler, after attending MARE’s Summer Adoption Mixer at Assumption College in 2016. She brought Marian along for the day, and as they were taking a final bathroom break before heading home, they met Tyler’s social worker. Jen gave the social worker her family’s profile, and a month later, she was matched with Tyler. Again, three weeks later, Jen and Marian welcomed Tyler into his forever family.
“I think single people should absolutely pursue adoption,” Jen said. “I think it’s a great way to do it. I do think you have to either really know who you are or have other people to rely on, but even if you don’t have that, there are tons of support groups that you can meet up with to help you find your own support system and make the process go smoother.”
Jen explained that adopting as a younger parent was a great choice for her as well. “No matter what age you are or whether you’re single or not, you’re never going to know what to expect when you have kids. As long as you’re settled enough that you feel like you can support a kid, your age doesn’t make that much of a difference.”
Now engaged, Jen and her fiancé are looking to adopt again.
“Now that I’m going through it with my fiancé, I’m showing him that it’s a really great way to expand your family. I feel like sometimes people think that kids who are adopted have something wrong with them,” Jen said, “but they’re just kids.”
As a family, some of the Riganos’ favorite things to do are go for ice cream, plan movie and game nights, and spend summers at the beach with Jen’s parents.
“The biggest highlights of the adoption process are the kids. I can’t imagine not having them, even when they’re driving me nuts or arguing over who gets to sit in the corner seat of the couch. Those are my kids, that’s what they do, and I absolutely love it.”