Crystal and Paul Neun are a Nebraska couple who wanted their family to include children. Because they were unable to have children biologically, they decided to explore the process of adopting a child from foster care.
“We saw that there are several children in the foster care system that need homes and guidance. We felt like we could provide that,” said Paul. “We were always open to adoption, but also knew our first priority as foster parents was to safely reunite a child with their family whenever possible.”
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Children and teens often enter foster care due to no fault of their own. They have been removed from their homes by the courts due to abuse, neglect or other family challenges. KVC foster families provide a safe place for the child so that his or her birth family can resolve conflicts and the child can return safely home. While reunification is the first goal, some children are unable to return home. When the courts deem that reintegration with the birth family is not possible, the goal then becomes adoption.
After opening their home to children in foster care, the Neuns met a young boy named DeMar who needed a forever home. The couple finalized the adoption of their son DeMar on National Adoption Day in November of 2014.
The Neuns continued to expand their family, adopting another boy named Dominic, and became a family of 4. They knew that they could still offer a loving home to children in need. The Neuns were asked to care for sisters Evie and Maddie shortly after they were born. After some time in foster care, it was determined that Evie and Maddie would need an adoptive family.
Crystal always hoped to add a girl to their family full of boys, so they began the process to adopt the two sisters.
“Every child we foster, we treat like our own children,” said Paul. “And even after they leave our home, we still see them as our family. When adopting both Maddie and Evie became possible, it was just them becoming our family permanently.”
“Both Dominic and DeMar treated Maddie and Evie as their sisters from the very first day,” said Paul. “Dominic and DeMar care and love their sisters like any natural sibling would. They don’t see them as “foster” children or as “temporary” siblings. They also treat every child placed in our home like a family member.”
Crystal and Paul offer the following advice for other adults who are considering adopting from foster care:
- Have the patience to know that a child’s physical, mental and emotional state is not caused by you. Have the patience to deal with the constant changes in both your life and the child’s life. There have been several times where last minute changes drove us crazy because we strove to provide some form of consistency and stability for the kids.
- Love the child as if they were your own biological child and treat them as such. Some may not accept your love, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t provide it. Know that what you are doing will eventually help that child in some form or another.
- Meet other foster parents and form a support system. It’s good to have support from those familiar with what you are going through. You can also help others in the same way.
There are 3,500 Nebraska children and teens in foster care due to abuse, neglect or other family challenges. While many will be safely reunified with their birth families, there are many waiting to be adopted. Learn more about becoming a foster parent to help children in crisis.