Adoption: “It is impossible to imagine our lives without him”

Joshua and Candice Smith of Lebanon wanted children, but that had not happened for them. As they approached their 40’s, they considered adoption. But the process of fostering to adopt was intimidating, so they decided not to proceed.

Then, two years ago, Candice’s cousin Caleb was born. His parents were unable to care for him due to drugs. He had been placed in foster care with Candice’s aunt and uncle, an older couple who stepped in short-term.

“Eventually, it was decided that Joshua and Candice should care for him and adopt,” said Cheryl Humphrey of Clermont County Children’s Services. “They love Caleb just as their own and he is a very happy and thriving child. He is very spoiled and loved.”

The adoption was finalized on Aug. 22 to Joshua, 42, an IT director, and Candice, 41, a stay-at-home mother.

Candice said Children’s Services “completed all of the necessary paperwork, guided us through the certification process, answered questions and provided information regarding the process and completed our home study.”

“We absolutely love and adore Caleb, it is impossible to imagine our lives without him,” Candice said. “He is a joy to spend time with and we love watching him thrive and grow. Re-experiencing the world through his eyes and watching him make new discoveries is a treat. Each time he achieves something new, we swell with joy and pride. Details matter to him in ways we often forget about.”

Candice added that Caleb has a wonderful personality and bold character. “He is very loving, sweet and kind,” she said. “He loves to read and play, to be out and about and see his family. He soaks up information like a sponge and has excellent communication skills. He has no problem telling you exactly what he wants or needs and does so adamantly.”

Navigating relationships with the birth family had been complex and daunting, since the birth mother is a cousin. But the Smiths have maintained Caleb’s relationship with his maternal grandparents.

What would Candice say to others considering adoption through Children’s Protective Services?

“Make sure you have a solid support structure in-place, CPS will do everything they can to assist you through the process, but additional support from family and friends can be crucial,” she said. “Caring for Caleb has been a journey. We didn’t become his parents overnight, it took us time. Time to bond, time to complete the process, and time to reflect on his needs at each stage. Children from CPS have special needs, which is why they are all there.

“Being objective to those needs at the beginning was crucial to his success. It enabled us to ask for help when needed and give critical feedback in order for his support structure to provide the correct support. Remember that it is ok to ask for help, and it is ok to take time for yourself – while we’re here for the children, you can’t provide them what they need if you’re running on empty.”

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