By Adrianne Pearl Gimenez
Coryn answers the door in a sweat. Her curly haired dog comes up to the door to greet me. Inside, the home is decorated with homemade mothers day hearts and banners. The girls are at school, so this is the little bit of downtime Coryn has to herself. Running a home with 6 girls is no easy feat, “tons of laundry”, Coryn says to me on her life in raising her two biological daughters, two adopted daughters, and two foster daughters with her husband.
“People think we’re crazy. We had the whole ‘house in the burbs, two kids, plus a dog’ (perfect) lifestyle going, and then changed it by being foster parents”, she says to me about her and her husband’s decision to become foster parents 4 years ago.
That decision didn’t come easy though. Originally Coryn had wanted to work through an adoption agency to adopt children from overseas, but her husband opened up to her about fostering children. “I didn’t realize until after we were married that he wanted to foster, and I kept on debating but then I saw this article pop up on my Facebook on being a foster parent. I was scared of the heartbreak I would feel in fostering but the article made me realize that it’s okay to get my heartbroken, I’m an adult and I can handle it. A child can’t really handle that same heartbreak and need a loving home”.
Coryn and her husband trained for 9 weeks through Guardian Angels. “The training gave me insight on privilege. I grew up in a loving home with both parents but a lot of birth parents didn’t grow up with that same privilege. They grew up raising their children the only way they knew how to, not because they don’t love their kids.”
When Lina and Jenna came into their lives everything changed. The trauma they had gone through was severe, leaving Jenna with Reactive Attachment Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. With a lot of love, patience, and research, Coryn came across trust based relational intervention (TBRI) and used its teachings to work through the complex trauma Jenna and Lina had gone through. Coryn and her husband also built a jungle gym for the girls to work off their energy and to have fun.
Through the trauma, Coryn adds that having a good support system can make a big difference. Coryn is involved in a local nonprofit called Love Moves Us., an organization dedicated to connecting and supporting foster and adoptive families. “It was crazy to be able to know people like us. People who are going through the same thing. People who can share their experiences and advice”. Coryn also credits CASA in their role, “It was awesome. She would come in, sit down, bring toys, and play with the kids. She was great because she just knew things. She knew tools and resources and this was before meeting with other foster parents so she was definitely that first piece of support that we got”.
In the Spring of 2018, Coryn and her husband Ryan adopted Jenna and Lina and welcomed them into their forever family after almost 3 years in care. The memory for Coryn is bittersweet, ” Although it’s a happy moment, at the same time it’s a sad moment too. They lose that day to day contact with their biological family. As much as I can do, it’s not the same”.
To keep Jenna and Lina’s ties to their biological family, they still see their siblings and their biological mother. “It’s important to not be selfish and to share that love. I want them to be able to know where they come from now and be able to make those choices on keeping in contact when they’re older”.
After adopting, Coryn and her husband decided to continue being foster parents and are now fostering two more girls. “Although this case is a little more ambiguous in whether or not they’ll be reunified, we tell the girls that we will love you here and we will love you even if you go home”.
“We will love you here and we will love you even if you go home.”
When asked on how this experience has changed her life she says, “It’s emboldened me to talk to other people and going out of my comfort zone. Now that I have these beautiful black/African- American daughters, I’m exposed to this whole new world and culture. It’s emboldened me to talk to people I may have never talked to and ask for some feedback and advice. Having a multi-racial family (and one of with 6 girls), people look at you like you’re crazy but I’ve learned to have more confidence and give grace. Being a foster parent has been the hardest thing we’ve ever done but it’s the best thing we’ve ever done”.
Coryn adds some advice to those looking to be foster parents, “Definitely do some research. If you can seek out support and manage it you can do it. Don’t go in thinking it’s going to be rosy and you’ll be a superhero, it’s hard work but it’s so worth it”.
Forever Family- The photo of Jenna and Lina’s adoption last year hangs proudly in their home.
Coryn proudly displays the Mothers’ Day decorations her girls put up.
The girls’ lego display.
Photo taken of the girls on adoption day. The girls are excited to officially be sisters.