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Family Spotlight: Kickbusch Family

"Adoption is one of the most precious gifts you could give a child."

In their small rural community, the Kickbusches’ home is known as a safe, welcoming place for children. Mom Tammy observes, “We have had lots of kids other than our own coming and going over the years.”

Tammy and Phil chose to create their family through both birth and adoption. Their birth daughters, McKenzie and Lauren, are now ages 21 and 16. Their adopted sons, Robert and Austin, are ages 14 and 9. The boys are biological brothers. 

Austin was the first of the brothers to arrive to the Kickbusch home, as a 6-week-old infant. With no memories of having lived elsewhere, Austin has not faced any major challenges over his foster placement and subsequent adoption. He did express relief when his adoption was finally completed, at age 8.

Today Austin is a very well-adjusted boy who excels at everything he tries. Due to early medical challenges, he remains small for his age, but his emotional maturity and intellectual abilities are on an equal level with his peers.  

Unlike his younger brother, Robert experienced neglect and inconsistencies in his early childhood. When he arrived to the Kickbusch home at age 11, after two previous foster placements, he was four years behind academically, and he had not yet learned how to regulate his emotions.  Tammy left her employment in order to provide Robert the supervision and support he needed to begin his recovery. 

Today Robert is a reserved high school freshman who enjoys school. He is almost caught up to grade level, and he demonstrates emerging leadership skills. Mom writes, “We are so proud of how far Robert has come.” When discussing the past, Robert refers to himself as his ‘old self’ because he has changed and grown so much.

Weekends and vacations find the outdoorsy Kickbusches camping, fishing, hunting, bicycling, and swimming together.  For Robert and Austin, seeing the ocean for the first time was the highlight of the family’s summer trip to Oregon.  

Tammy and Phil credit their faith in God and the support of friends with helping them persevere. Tammy writes, “Without our faith we wouldn't have made it through this process! And with the encouragement of our friends we were able to have our dream come true.”  Phil adds, “We adopted Austin and then we got Robert as a bonus.” 

The couple offers high praise for their local Child Protective Services, and for post adoption counseling. The Federal Adoption Tax Credit has helped them to provide enriching activities such as sports for their sons, and to purchase a vehicle that better accommodates their enlarged family. 

Tammy offers a suggestion for policy-makers: “Please assign one caseworker to see a child through the entire foster care and adoption process. Multiple changes in workers are traumatic.”

Overall, their experiences in family-building have been positive. The Kickbusches wish to tell others, “Adoption is one of the most precious gifts you could give a child.”