Nicole Guido Photography
Lorreen and Dan and their two sons were relocating to North Carolina. They were house hunting and, like all homebuyers, had a checklist of features. The house had to accommodate their mobility – both sons have spina bifida and wheelchairs are their primary mode of transportation. And it had to be big. They were a family of four, but Lorreen and Dan had decided to become foster parents.
When they found a house they liked, they prayed together and looking up, they both just knew. Dan spoke first. “We’re going to live here. And we’re going to get three kids.” Lorreen responded, “Two girls and a boy.” And so their story begins.
HALIE, AGE 15
RYAN, AGE 12
MADISON, AGE 11
The kids are arm wrestling in the front room. When Halie is pinned, she calls out “Whoopsie-daisy!” and her laughter fills the air. Anyone who has known her longer than a year knows this is nothing short of a miracle.
Lorreen and Dan met Halie two years ago when she came to their home for a one-week respite visit. They knew she had hemiparesis, or left-side weakness, a result of a congenital brain disorder and they knew this limited her ability to communicate. But they didn’t know how much pain she had.
She was terrified of Dan, all men really, because of abuse she suffered while living with her biological mother. She couldn’t regulate her emotions or make attachments. She felt loss and confusion at being separated from her home, her mother, her aunt, and two siblings. And because she could communicate none of this, she raged.
It would be great to say that Lorreen and Dan loved her through it, but that doesn’t tell the full story. They loved her, yes, but they also gave her a safe home, medical interventions, consistency, and stability. She improved, then thrived. And it was at that point Lorreen and Dan learned Halie had a brother and sister, each living in a different foster home.
“When I heard this,” Dan says, “I just looked at Lorreen and said, ‘We can’t let these kids separate.’ ” Soon they were visiting one weekend a month; then two. They would play together before returning to their foster homes. Over time, the siblings became comfortable together and with Lorreen and Dan and their two sons. And then the phone rang.
“Methodist Home for Children called and asked if we would be a family to all three,” Dan says. “And I replied, ‘Abso-fricking-lutely.’ ”
Last December, the teens were adopted in a ceremony uniquely styled for this family. Halie brought her baby doll, who was also officially adopted – and they unapologetically laughed and cheered. They had come a long way and were joyously committing to a lifetime of family.