HEART TO HEART: Balancing two huge responsibilities


ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - Volunteering to fight for your country is a huge responsibility but taking on another responsibility like adopting or fostering a child can be a bit tough to balance.

One Abilene family proves it is possible and they are making it look easy!

The Ballards live on Dyess Air Force Base. They have lived in Abilene for eight years.

They told KRBC they had to take into consideration how long they were going to be stationed and when Zachary will be deployed again before adopting a child.

The Ballards said they knew early on they wanted to adopt.

"We started thinking about it [adopting] after we had our first child and then we surprisingly had our second. So, we put that off a little bit and then we started when our second child was around two," Lesli said.

Because Permanent Change of Station (PCS) can happen anytime, they had to think long and hard.

"We had to think about how long we thought we were going to be here, I mean there's no guarantees but the adoption process can take 18 months to two years, so you want to make sure you're going to be here," Leslie said.

It can sometimes take longer than that but they did not let this discourage them.

With a bit of communication before Zachary was deployed they knew what they could and could not take on.

"Whenever he deployed was each time before deployment we would talk about was what cases I could say yes to, if any, because I can't get a hold of him within a moment's notice to say yes or no," the Ballards said. "We were thinking like age order wise, we want to keep it in the birth order. Which means we want them younger than our biological and adopted children."

The Ballards are foster to adopt.. They have fostered a total of 13 kids at different times!

"A lot of our kids go to be with extended family. CPS will always prioritize that which is important. So, they might be with us a few weeks so they can get them to grandma's or aunts or whoever can take them," Lesli said.

Lesli said the process is nervewracking.

"With our adoptive son, we had him when he was straight from the NICU at three weeks old and he was 16 months when we adopted him so for a long time, we were obviously very attached and it was nerve-wracking, wondering if he was going to stay with us or if he was going to go home or [Zachary] "A strange relative comes out of nowhere and we lose him. It's scary but you just got to go with the flow a little bit," the Ballards said. "

Right now, the family has two biological kids named Ethan and Lilli, a one-year-old adoptive son named Carson and a foster child who is one week old. They do not know if they'll be able to keep the newborn baby.

"It's looking like he's going to go home sometime within the next few months and so that's what we're working toward," Lesli said. We have to keep in mind is that our goal is for them to go home. It's hard sometimes because you get really attached."

Catherine Earley is the North Texas Regional Director for Pathways Young and Family Services. It is a licensed child placing agency in Abilene.

Earley explains the key to success for those who are in the military and wishing to adopt.

"Start early in the time that you'll be staying at one base because we have to remember that these are legal cases and we don't know how long that they'll go on," Earley said.

This helps because there is also a supervision process.

"In some places, you can't find an adoptive placement and you have to have 6 months of supervision in that adoptive placement before the adoption can be finalized," Earley said.

The family's goal is to have a total of five children but right they are counting their blessings.

"I love it when people say, Carson is blessed to have us because we feel the exact opposite. Of all the families in Abilene, for them to pick us to get to have this beautiful boy feels like such an amazing miracle and we just feel lucky that we got picked to be his parents," Lesli said.

If you would like to know more about the adoption process, you may call Pathways in Abilene at (325) 692-4048.

Or you visit their website here.

You can also visit BeAFosterParent.com.

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