'My name is Jeremy Tilley. My family started our new beginnings adoption journey in 2017. We had raised our biological twins to the age of 5 and were confident that we understood what it took to be parents and convey parental love to any child, even one not born to us.We’re on the other side of our adoption story, and even though our family is complete, we know that we have more to give. I know there are thousands of you out there, just like us, wanting to help those who are just beginning their journey. They’re scared, they’re overwhelmed, and they need us….. They need you. They need you to look at them and say “I understand, because I’ve been there.” If you, like us, feel the calling to be an ear, a voice, an example of the joy that can be…. There are families that are starting their adoption journeys that need understanding experience. Answer the call and come be a Mentor family. Gladney can’t wait to hear from you!'
In April of 2018 my wife and I had completed all of our requirements to register to adopt, and we waited for God to lead us to our child. In August, much faster than we were ready for, we got our call. We dropped our twins off at school and, very nervously, headed south to see what God had instore for us. He was 20 months old, he only spoke a few words, he was on a feeding tube, he had a clubbed foot, and his bones were twisted. This tough little package was a year behind, had a medical file that was three inches thick, five medications and four doctor’s appointments every week. He was so busy surviving that he had never even been to a park.
I would love to tell you that there was an instant bond. I would love to say that when we held him, we knew that he was our son, but none of that would be true. We were just straight up scared and blindly proceeding forward, trusting in the process. What we didn’t understand was that the process was never going to be enough to see us through.
Two weeks after our son moved in, my wife had surgery (Ovarian Cystectomy). A week after her surgery we decided to start the process of teaching our son how to eat. It was substantially more difficult than we could have ever imagined and in the end took us six months. Two weeks after my wife’s first surgery, she had to go back in for a full hysterectomy. While she was in recovery, I was alone with our son at one of his many doctors’ appointments when I was told that our best option to fix his clubbed foot was amputation. Two weeks after that, a tumor was discovered in my throat and I went in for emergency surgery. During all of this, even at only 21 months old, our newest family member was testing our resolve every moment of every day. We could barely breathe, let alone bond with our scared little man.
We were so overwhelmed that we actually considered throwing in the towel and admitting defeat. We were so lost that we couldn’t even see that we needed help. We knew that Gladney was there for us at a moment’s notice, but we needed something more, something different. What we needed, what I needed, was someone who had been through this. I needed someone who could look at me and say “I understand because I’ve been there.” Someone who understood our mess, and the beauty that it could one day be. I needed to know, from someone with experience, that one day when my son hugged me and said “Dad, I love you”, I’d be able to look back on that difficult period and be truly grateful for our journey. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I needed a mentor. We needed mentors.
Today our son isn’t on a single medication. He doesn’t stop talking, eats us out of house and home, has terrible morning breath, gives the best hugs, wrestles with his brother, annoys his sister, loves to cook, climbs trees like squirrel, and couldn’t be pried away from us by a thousand horses. There are some days when I literally forget that my youngest son is adopted. I can now look back and be grateful for the journey.
Gladney Family Mentorship is the newest addition to Gladney’s already outstanding adoption services. It is our goal to pair each adoptive family from all programs, with an experienced Gladney Family. However, we can’t do it without your help and experience. Gladney Families from all programs who have had substantive time since placement are eligible to be a mentor family, so please consider sharing your experience with another family.
Apply to be a mentor by clicking on the link below, logging into your My Gladney Portal, and clicking “Become a Mentor”. If you haven’t used My Gladney before or have forgotten how to login, click the link below, then select “Recover My Account”. The application should take about 20-30 minutes to complete and will help us to pair the right families with you.