“We were very lucky. Some families wait for years.”
As a pediatrician and medical director of Aurora Children’s Health, Dr. Kevin Dahlman is passionate about kids.
But he’s passionate about fostering and adopting because of his own children: Benjamin, Jeffrey and Annaliese.
When Dr. Dahlman and his wife, Kristi, were unable to have children, they considered international and domestic adoption. Instead, they turned to fostering.
“We knew it would be a tough road, because there is always so much that is unknown in these situations,” says Dr. Dahlman. “We decided to do it for the child, even if our hearts were to break when adoption was impossible.”
And their hearts did break. The first baby that came into their home was later adopted by an aunt.
But just days later, 2-day-old Benjamin came into their lives. Then, 6-month-old Jeffrey. It was a few years later, on her fifth day of life that Annaliese first met their eyes.
All three of the children’s backgrounds reflect the difficult challenges faced by many families, opioid and drug addiction. One is a Safe Haven baby – a child who is voluntarily put in the care of local authorities by a parent.
“To be able to adopt three of four children in foster care is rare, “says Dr. Dahlman. “Reunification with their own family is always the plan, until it is not. We were very lucky. Some families wait for years to be able to adopt.”
Dr. Dahlman appreciates the challenges faced by many foster parents. He knows firsthand that the process can be extremely frustrating. There are inconsistencies in social work support, and judicial decisions can drag children from foster home to foster home without permanent resolution.
“As a pediatrician and a foster dad, I have a voice,” says Dr. Dahlman. “We need to improve the system; it’s broken. Now that I know more about how things work, I hope to help make a difference.”
Despite the frustrations, the Dahlman’s wouldn’t change a thing about their own family.
“Fostering is not for everyone, “says Dr. Dahlman. “And, I know that we are not the stereotypical foster family. But in risking our hearts and emotions, we have completed the difficult journey, and the rewards have been amazing.”
About the Author
Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!