All children are deserving of a permanent, loving family. However, children in foster care with unique emotional, physical, and intellectual needs are often dismissed and overlooked, simply due to the challenges they face. On average, these kids wait a full year longer than their peers to find adoptive homes.
Margaret and Matthew Curran, who adopted their sons Chris and Brandon and daughter Trinnie, know firsthand that children with additional needs want what every child wants: the unconditional love and support of a permanent family.
The Curran family adopted Chris from Ukraine almost 20 years ago. The younger Curran children, Brandon and Trinnie, were both adopted from Massachusetts foster care in 2004 and 2014, respectively. Each of the children has a range of needs that include ADHD, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and other medical conditions.
“When you’re going through MAPP training and completing your application, you’re asked a lot of questions,” explains Margaret. “They really make you sit together as a couple—if you’re part of a couple—and think about the different challenges that you feel you would be ready to deal with or those that you might not be ready for.”
Exploring the challenges you can handle as a family is an important step in the adoption process. But the Currans found that it was the connection with their kids, not the challenges, that defined their journey as a family.
“Sometimes, you just meet the child and all of that stuff goes away,” says Matthew.
And while neither Chris nor Brandon remember much about their lives before being adopted, they both feel grateful to have been placed in a home where they can stay forever.
“Now that I look back at everything, I’m very blessed,” Chris explains. “[To other kids waiting to be adopted], I would say that it might not be right away, but you’ll find a family that loves and cares for you and wants to show you how much they care about you.”
Brandon also explains how important the sense of permanency in his home has been for him, even if he was a bit unsure whether things would work out at first.
“When you’ve been in one place and then another, you’re not really sure if [your placement] is going to be just another place. It was kind of a pleasant surprise to realize that I was actually staying here. I remember that feeling pretty well.”
Now, the Curran children love spending time together as siblings, whether they’re playing board games or tossing around a football outside. Birthdays are a big deal in the Curran household too, as Trinnie and Brandon share the same day.
“I get to choose the dinner, and she gets to choose the cake,” Brandon explains with a laugh. “Because I still get cake either way.”
When thinking about what advice she would give to other families considering adopting a child with special needs or considering adopting in general, Margaret explains that “What’s most important is that you come together as a unit and try to support one another. Remember that you’re not alone in all of this.”
MARE is committed to closing the permanency gap for children and teens with complex needs in foster care. These kids need families who don't define them by their limitations but see them for the unique individuals they are. Thanks to families like the Curran's, 35% of the children we helped to place in adoptive homes last year had complex needs.