How Three Children Changed a Couple’s Life Forever
By Lindsay Ruck; Photos by John Major
When Shelley and Clive Good started talking about having children, adoption was always a part of the conversation.
”We had kind of talked about adoption at the time because I got married at 37, so we weren’t expecting a lot of biological children because of my age,” says Shelley.
“So we had thought maybe we’ll have one biological child and one adopted child. We both had said adoption was something we wanted to do.”
As a children’s pastor at Woodvale Pentecostal Church in Nepean, Shelley is surrounded by hundreds of children on a regular basis, but she admits while
adoption was always a part of the plan, three children was not.
“We were thinking of adopting an infant privately and just more and more things happened in the process,” says Shelley. “I think we needed to make our options broader. We wanted to be open to more as we got further into the process.”
One of the turning points for the couple was when the adoption of an infant fell through. They got a call from the child’s mother informing them that she had decided to keep the baby.
“That was hard,” recalls Shelley. “Some people talk about it as another miscarriage. We were sad for us, but happy for her. If she felt she was able to do it then that’s where the little one belongs.”
With 30,000 children in the Canadian system waiting to be adopted, and the long line-up for people who want to adopt infants, the couple decided that if there was a family that had the resources and the experience to adopt older children, then it was them.
“The last piece of paper we had to fill out was to figure out which children we would accept, which is a heart-wrenching thing. We had written down certain things that we were open to and one of the things we had always said was we would take two children, five and under. But then Clive said ‘well what if they have an older sibling, what if there were three children?’ and we wrote that we were open to discuss if there were older children.”
Before bringing in the final paperwork, Shelley got a call from their social worker asking if the couple would consider a family of three.
“I called Clive almost gasping, saying ‘she’s suggesting three’ and right away he said ‘sure, that’d be great, tell her we’ll talk about it,’ but I didn’t know if I could do it.”
Shelley says a talk with her brother, a missionary in Mexico, helped her reach a more confident place. “He has a little orphanage out there and we were just talking about what he does. When I hung up the phone, I really felt God say to me, I never really asked you to do anything really hard before. In other words, I know it’s a hard thing but I’m the one asking you to do it. So I just called Clive up right after and said let’s call our social worker and tell her we’re interested.”
Shelley says the decision also became much more real once she heard the sibling’s story and saw the photos of Kaitlyn, Daryn and Daniel for the first time.
”It was kind of game over once we heard about them and saw their pictures. It was just ‘these are our kids’. We just kind of knew; it just felt right for us. If you wait until you’re ready and you have everything in a row and your life is perfect for children to come then you’ll never do it.”
While Shelley and Clive had confirmed their decision to turn their family of two into a family of five, they admit onlookers were still a little hesitant of their decision. “People close to us were kind of concerned for us, I think,” laughs Shelley. “Like oh my goodness, are you going to be able to handle that? That’s an awful lot to take on. Nobody really said don’t do it. People were happy for us, but sort of afraid for us at the same time.”
Putting reservations aside, Clive and Shelley decided to start going forward with the adoption process in January 2010. “During the summer we kind of held off doing things due to a few different reasons,” says Clive. “And then just everything lined up in the fall and we really got going on it, finishing our home study, which is a part of the process, getting all of the paperwork completed and we finished that in November 2010.”
As part of the process, the couple met several times with the children, getting to spend time with them individually and in different settings.
“The visits back and forth were really incredible to see some of the things in them,” recalls Clive. “We took them swimming, so we were able to see how they reacted to us in a public setting and we did things that would have us in that parenting role.”
“We found out things about them too that they’re interested in,” adds Shelley. “We renovated the rooms to suit what they would like and we tried to make it so that when they came in they felt like they were home and it was their place, rather than somewhere they were visiting.”
While Daniel, 4, and Daryn, 6, wasted no time calling the couple Mom and Dad, Kaitlyn, 9, has chosen to call them Shelley and Clive. The couple say jumping into the parenting role was probably a little more natural than others, considering their interaction with children on a regular basis.
“We didn’t look at them and go ‘my goodness, I can’t believe they eat so many Cheerios’, like we knew that about kids,” says Shelley. “Or, ‘why aren’t they listening the first time, that’s odd.’ We’re so used to kids that there wasn’t anything that blind-sided us, but they are three individual little personalities and it’s learning all the little things about them individually that was a real learning curve. We’re always learning something new about what bothers them or what they like or dislike and what works best for them.”
After the kids arrived last May, Shelley took a nine month leave from work while Clive, an accountant, took a month off during the summer. “It was hard at the beginning because even though I’m a children’s pastor, I spend a lot of time with adults, and you go from that to being at home all the time with this little guy, who at the beginning would not ever leave my side. But now he’s getting a little bigger and he’s adjusting more and he knows where we are and how things are.”
Although a drastic change at first, Shelley admits they would have appreciated even more time with their new family. “There’s such a huge adjustment time and I think we could have used more time.”
Diving back into work after her leave, Shelley and Clive say their children have quickly become a part of their church family.
“They of course were instant celebrities when they came to the church and Kaitlyn said everybody already knew her as soon as she came, so right off the bat they were known.”
While Kaitlyn made a decision to be baptized this year, Shelley and Clive say they leave that choice completely up to their kids. “You don’t want them to make a commitment to God just based on pleasing you or what they think you want them to do,” says Shelley. ”You want them to have a genuine decision.”
And Shelley and Clive say the decision to adopt has changed them—for the better. “You get another perspective on life,” says Shelley. “You become a lot less selfish and you realize that your life is outside of yourself.”
Now with three kids and a stronger relationship than ever, the couple say while it may seem daunting, it’s all worth it in the end. “Enjoy the process,” says Clive. “It allowed us to find out things about ourselves and each other. It’s strengthened our ability to parent.”
“I think it’s only brought us closer as a couple,” adds Shelley. “There’s so much joy and fun with them that it can’t help but be good for your relationship. Things become easier as you go and they adopt you after awhile.”