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Meet the Blacks, an Adoptive Family from Missouri

Kristal and Jared Black proudly introduce their children: Alex age 8, Alexis, also age 8; Alyssa, age 6; Ashten, age 4; and Bentley, age 3. On October 6 of this year, the Blacks formally adopted the five siblings. Most of them are too young to fully grasp the concept of adoption.

The oldest two, Alex and Alexis, recently explained, “Adoption means a lot of things; it means love.”

Several factors infuenced Kristal and Jared’s decision to adopt through foster care. Adoption had always appealed to them, they were aware of the great need, and they were challenged by infertility. The couple did not intend to adopt a large group of children, but when they learned of these youngsters from Children’s Division, their hearts were touched and their parental protectiveness kicked in. Jared proudly explains, “We were able to keep the five of them together and to become a family with them.” The children had all been placed into foster care when Bentley was a newborn, and they had been moved into the Blacks’ home about 19 months ago.

The children have all grown and thrived under Kristal and Jared’s loving attention. Smart, sweet, and tender-hearted Alex says he wants to be “a mad scientist” when he grows up. Athletic Alexis plans to become a PE teacher, putting to use the leadership skills she developed in “mothering” her younger siblings. Described as “silly, loving, and a re cracker,” Alyssa likes to run and proudly shows off her bike-riding skills. Ashten likes playing with baby dolls and dressing up as a princess.

Dubbed “the family clown,” Bentley loves to make people laugh. All the children enjoy playing with the family’s two pet dogs, Milo and Boomer.

Asked about obstacles they have encountered, the Blacks refer to a challenge many families face – balancing work and family life. Jared adds, “We also had to convince people that we weren’t crazy to take on 5 kids at once.” The oldest children also report some challenges in the adoption process. Alex says, “It’s hard work and you have to sign a lot of papers.” Alexis recalls, “There are lots of messes.” Alyssa adds, “It takes forever to get your name changed.”

Faith is an important aspect of the Black family’s life. Kristal writes, “Our faith in God gives us a completely different perspective of our kids. We are able to face challenges with con dence and we have security in our family and friends’ support.”

Kristal and Jared appreciate the medical and dental services and post adoption counseling available in their community. They have found counseling helpful in “identifying problem areas and giving us guidance to help us and our children deal with the past and prepare for the future.”

Based on their experiences, the Blacks offer three suggestions to policymakers: First, keep Medicaid simple. Second, make Free and Reduced Lunch a subsidy option. Third, protect judges from retaliation so TPR can happen in a timely manner.