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Meet The Marks Family from Michigan

Family is defined by the people we choose to bring into our lives.

Through birth, foster care, and adoption, Katie and Kristopher Marks have created a delightful blended family of seven. Their busy household is often abuzz with various activities and undertakings. Even with wide spans in ages, skills, and interests, the family functions as a cohesive whole, rooted in mutual love and respect.

The Marks' youngsters consist of three sons, ages 16, 14, and 12, and two daughters, ages 6 and 2. James, their oldest son, is a responsible leader who values rules and morality. Middle son Micah is curious and interested in mathematics, science and technology. Owen, the youngest boy, is outgoing and loving. All three were supportive of the family’s decision to adopt. They willingly help to nurture their younger sisters, Elizabeth and Natalie.

Each girl was placed into the Marks’ home on a foster care basis prior to being adopted. Elizabeth arrived at age 21 months; Natalie at just 10 days. Asked to describe their daughters, Katie writes, “Elizabeth is a bit of a perfectionist, and she sometimes has a short temper. However, she is a great help, a fantastic artist, and she gets along great with most kids of all ages.” Mom says of little Natalie, “She is a funny, sweet, and smart little girl who loves music and anything that moves.”  Both girls enjoy outdoor play and swimming.

When they applied to adopt, the Marks expressed their willingness to consider children with disabilities. Through their sons, they had already gained experience with some learning delays and attention challenges. With their girls, they are addressing attention and hyperactivity issues, the effects of prenatal growth difficulties, prenatal alcohol exposure, and experiences of early life trauma.

The Marks lament that the post adoption services in their area are limited to one agency.  They rely upon their strong faith (“It’s what kept us going and drives us to continue.”) and their Facebook community group for support and encouragement.  The main obstacle they encountered in adoption was policy that delayed Elizabeth’s adoption. The long and hard four-year wait taught them perseverance, but also helped them to realize that the system does not always work in a child’s best interest.

Katie and Kristopher see the biggest problem as the lack of oversight for judges who make decisions about children's lives. They suggest more accountability for adherence to the federal guidelines. The Marks believe that training for judges in the areas that affect child welfare cases, such as substance abuse, trauma, child psychology, and abnormal psychology, would lead to better decisions.

Reflecting upon their adoption journey, the Marks observe, “Adoption provides a child with a family, love, and belonging. Family is defined by the people we choose to bring into our lives and to whom we dedicate our lives.” They want to tell others considering adoption that it isn’t easy, but the joys outweigh the tears, and little on earth is more rewarding than loving a child.