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Meet the Choiniere Adoptive Family from Rhode Island!

Amanda and Cliff Choiniere express great pride in the children who came to them five years ago through foster care adoption. They write: “Bella, age 13, is smart, sassy, compassionate, creative, and athletic. Ben, age 9, is loving, compassionate, athletic, and full of energy. Both of our children bring so much joy to everyone who encounters them.”

This sweet sister and brother pair did not always experience a sweet life. In foster care for three years, they were separated from each other, and also from other siblings. Due to their early life events, they have faced learning challenges and trauma-related emotional health issues.

"We cannot imagine life without them."

Initially, Ben had been labeled “unadoptable due to behaviors” and destined to live in a group home. The audacious Choinieres probed further and learned that Ben was not receiving appropriate treatment or support. Amanda reports, “At that moment my husband and I were committed to advocate for this young man.” They were able to get Ben into a specialized treatment program and later to move him into their home. The family experienced “more valleys than peaks” at first, but the situation improved as Ben learned to trust his new parents.

Once secure and reunited in adoption, Bella and Ben were both able to focus their attention on age-appropriate interests and activities. Bella plays softball, dances, plays piano, and even composes her own music. Ben plays soccer and lacrosse, rides his bike, builds with Legos, and plays video games.

Asked when they first realized they had found their permanent home, Bella writes, “I finally felt that I was home when we walked out of the courtroom on my adoption day and I ran down the stairs smiling and laughing.” Ben shares, “It took me a while to adjust to a new family, but realizing that Mom and Dad were there every night for me to tuck me in, even when I was at the hospital making poor decisions, I knew it was FOREVER!”

Amanda and Cliff are thankful for the post adoption services in their community. Both children receive mental health services for trauma-related diagnoses. Benjamin receives services for educational needs and social skills development. The entire family has participated in post adoption counseling. “It has taught us all better communication and coping skills.” Adoption Rhode Island was helpful to them before, during, and after the adoption. In fact, they were so impressed with the agency that Amanda has accepted employment there.

Bella and Ben are the only children in the home, but not the only children in the Choiniere family. Cliff’s adult children from his previous marriage, Cliff IV, Brandyn, and Abigail, visit frequently and remain involved with the family. The Choinieres describe themselves as “a close-knit, loving, and protective family with a strong faith. “We believe that God put Bella and Ben in our life for a reason. We cannot imagine life without them.”

As an adoptive parent and now an adoption professional herself, Amanda asks policymakers to mandate more training for child welfare professionals, especially related to the effects of trauma on children. She also sees a need for more post-adoption support.