This article was originally written for the National Adoption Center.
Lisa and Chris Jacobson of Lehigh Valley, PA had been through multiple disappointing rounds of fertility treatments. Even though Chris had a child from a previous relationship, his son only visited on weekends, and the couple yearned to be full-time parents.
Lisa’s mother lived across the street and had been a foster parent for 13 years. Fifteen-year old Jasmine had been in and out of foster homes for nine years when she moved into Lisa’s mother’s home. Jasmine agreed to do Wednesday’s Child, a popular local news segment that features children available for adoption, andto attend a matching event in the hopes of finding a forever family.
“It made me sad that Jasmine was going to an event handing out flyers to get people to adopt her,” said Lisa. “I came home and told my husband that Jasmine was the child we were meant to adopt.” Chris agreed immediately.
It was Good Friday, March 2013. Lisa asked Jasmine what she was looking for in potential parents. “What about people like us?” asked Lisa. Jasmine agreed that Lisa and Chris were the type she wanted to which Lisa replied, “No, what if we asked you to be adopted by us?” Within six months Jasmine was officially their daughter.
What was your reaction when the Jacobsons said they wanted to adopt you?
Jasmine: The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why would you want to adopt me?” I was so surprised. After being taken from my mom, being in care for so long and experiencing a failed match I had started to think that no one would ever want me.
How has your life changed since becoming part of the Jacobson’s family?
Jasmine: It’s so different. I had to get used to being hugged and loved and having things given to me because before I had to do everything on my own. I had to get used to people caring and worrying about me. Now I get to be a regular teenager too. I can do things like after-school activities, visit a friend’s house, and attend football games. I also have my driver’s permit.
How has adopting Jasmine changed your life?
Lisa: When first having struggles with infertility, I told my friends that I couldn’t adopt because there was no way I could love a child that wasn’t biologically mine. Truth is I fell in love with Jasmine right away. Jasmine knows I would die for her. I don’t feel any different about her than anyone else in my family. I actually think I love her more knowing where she came from and what she went through.
Chris: It’s wonderful being a full-time dad and experiencing everyday life with my child and doing things together. It’s a joy to see her grow and to help her grow. Jasmine captured my heart right away. She’s such an amazing, well-rounded person. She’s definitely Daddy’s Girl and has me wrapped around her finger.
What surprised you?
Lisa: The actual adoption process didn’t take a lot of money or time. Jasmine moved in and in six months it was done. It wasn’t as hard as we had heard people talk about.
What would you say to people who are hesitant to adopt an older child?
Jasmine: When you adopt an older child you are changing the life of someone who grew up in poverty. You get to care for and love someone who is so vulnerable.
Chris: Go for it head first. Go in with a full heart and open mind and just do as much as you can for the child. Love them as much as you can, give support and be there for them.
Lisa: You are changing the life of a child whom others won’t give a chance. We aren’t saying it was always easy. We went through challenges together, but the end result is really worth it.
Lisa continued: Under my high school yearbook photo I included a quote that read, “I want a job that I don’t need, but a job that needs me.” Well I didn’t need to be a mom, but the job needed me. Being Jasmine’s mom was the job I was talking about all those years ago.
Today Jasmine is a high school senior applying to colleges to fulfill her dream of becoming a social worker. Soon she will turn 18 and also become a big sister—within two months the Jacobsons will adopt the baby boy of a former foster youth who lived with Lisa’s mother.