Life seemed set for the Diefenbachs – Mike worked as a commercial airline pilot, Lori had her own business, and they were parents to three growing children. But one day, a presentation about adoption at their church changed their family of five forever.
“We were already leading full, complete lives,” said Lori, “but something really called out to us and we started thinking about adoption.” Mike and Lori mulled over the idea, but when Lori saw a program on television about adoption, and more specifically about adoption through the foster care system, the idea solidified.
“Mike and I agreed that we didn’t want to adopt an infant,” Lori said. “We recognized a greater need and wanted to adopt an older child. Age and race didn’t matter to us.”
After thorough research and many talks with family and friends, Mike and Lori began working with Lutheran Services Carolinas to adopt with adoption program manager Kimberla Burrows guiding the way.
“Kimberla was so knowledgeable and really explained the process to us,“ said Mike. “Lori and I felt like she was truly our advocate. She was wonderful to work with and we are so grateful for her leadership and involvement.”
The Adoption Process
All adoptions handled though LSC involve giving loving homes to children currently in the foster care system, but according to Burrows, the greatest need is for the adoption of children who are 10 years old and over, in a sibling group, or are children of color. As is sometimes the case, these children can have emotional, behavioral, developmental, or medical needs as well.
“I really encourage families wanting to adopt to take their blinders off,” said Burrows. “It can be a frustrating process, but the end result is that a child’s need to belong to a family is being fulfilled.”
The process started for the Diefenbachs, as it does for many potential families, with classes, training, and a home study. LSC encourages all families wanting to adopt to pursue their foster care licensing, which can make it easier to deal with regulations regarding children who are still in the legal custody of the state.
During the home study, Burrows said, information is gathered about a family’s lifestyle, community and religious involvement, medical history, and financial resources. It was a year-long process for the Diefenbachs and they felt supported every step of the way by LFS staff members.
The matching process can turn into a waiting game as families make inquiries about available children. Once a potential match is identified, visitation and “getting to know you” sessions start and gradually progress to longer visits.
A Life-changing Phone Call
Mike and Lori were leaving for a mission trip when they received the call that a sibling group of three in Lincoln County needed foster care placement. “We were leaving the country the next day so we didn’t want to make a rush decision,” said Lori, “but as soon as we got back, we checked on the children.”
After meeting Anna, Morgan, and Dylan, who were 10, 8, and 5 at the time, Mike and Lori knew they would be a good fit for the Diefenbach household.
“Throughout this whole process, we felt that God called us,” said Mike. “Along the way, there were many reasons to say ‘no,’ but so many more to say ‘yes.’”
Today, eight is great! The additions to the Diefenbach family have adjusted very well to their new home and are excelling academically and socially. “Right from the start, they were a part of the family,” said Mike. “We did not make any exceptions; they were treated just like the other kids.”
“My advice to any family considering adoption is to not be afraid to ask for help,” said Mike. “And don’t think that you can’t afford it; assistance is available that will aid in providing for the needs of the children. When you adopt a child, you are helping to create a legacy of hope and optimism that he or she otherwise might not have.”
Lori echoes his sentiments. “These kids were just living to get through the day, and we want them to see that a whole future awaits them,” she said. “College, weddings, a family of their own – there are no limits on what life has in store for them. God brought these children into our lives and into our hearts.”
Story by Kristen Kitchen, Director of Donor Relations