By Theresa D. McClellan
For the Fort Bend Star
Married to her best friend and watching her two young children play together in their Halloween costumes, Kasey Gillespie Eaglin smiled with the realization, “my family is complete.”
It was a long time coming. Which is why the Missouri City mother is speaking out during National Adoption Awareness Month on the obstacles and ultimate joys of adoption.
“I’d tell families that want to adopt that it’s a big process. Be ready. I do mortgage loans for a living and that is tough, packaging loans. But nothing compares to the adoption-foster process,” said the mother who quickly adds that it’s worth the effort.
“The process can be pretty daunting with paper requirements, certifications, inspections and time in class. There is a lot. But every single time you get overwhelmed, remember, there is a child at the end of the process. We were fortunate. We knew the child.”
Her eyes sparkle as she talks about the son who is already living with the family. The Eaglins will officially adopt him in the spring. Because he is currently in the foster care system – even though he lives with the family – they cannot publicly identify her son who is from another state.
The minute they saw him nearly two years ago, Kasey and her husband Matt looked at one another and said “that’s our son.”
Meeting her son started with a family friend who knew how much the Eaglins wanted children. Actually, her passion for adoption was nurtured more than two decades ago when her parents sent then 21-year-old Kasey on a church mission trip to Romania with her pastors.
“It changed my life. We went to an orphanage and seeing the babies… My family is very close-knit and I’d never known about adoption. Seeing babies who didn’t have what I had growing up – a family; it really changed my life,” she said.
She went to college, married her best friend and for seven years they tried to have children. After multiple devastating miscarriages, including twins, they decided to pursue adoption.
“We knew adoption was out there. We were open to it and started the process in Houston 2013 after the fourth miscarriage. We got all the way to the end, it didn’t feel right. We were not fully heart open and ready and we bowed out after the certification and training,” Eaglin said.
“We didn’t know why but it (adoption) didn’t feel right. Then we got pregnant,” she said.
The sparkle returns to her eyes as she discusses “my little miracle Parker Tate.”
She calls her a miracle because Eaglin was 44 years old and was told she would have multiple complications including gestational diabetes and need full bed rest. She was never sick.
After the birth she used her benefits from her Bank of America job and took a four-month paid leave of absence. When Parker was five months old they got a call from a family friend who knew their history.
“They said, ‘I know you wanted to adopt’ and my husband said, ‘of course, tell us more’,” she said.
The family friend told them of a then 6-year-old boy with a need. They listened.
“We hung up with that phone call, our heart said yes,” she said.
That was in August 2015 and the child was flown to Texas with his former foster mom.
“The moment we saw him, my husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘that’s my son’,” she said.
That first encounter grew into weekly conversations over Skype and another extended trip in Texas. So that by the time he came to live with the Eaglins three months ago, the relationship was established.
“There were already I love you’s, and I want to come to Texas, and can I talk to Parker and will she be my sister,” she said.
Their son calls himself Batman so they call their daughter his Robin. Their son knows he will be adopted in the spring.
“He wants to be a part of the court hearings. He is a very old soul and knows his circumstances and can speak to it,” Eaglin said. “He knows that the first part of his life he was given some hard challenges. As his parents, we use that to tell him, there is nothing tougher than you.”
Her baby girl was five months old when they started this process. She is now 20 months old. And just like with the arrival of her baby girl, once her son’s adoption process is complete in the spring, Eaglin said her company benefits allow her to take a four-month paid leave of absence. She has been with Bank of America for 22 years.
“I didn’t want to be a banker, I came for the benefits, they had medical benefits for part-time tellers and they did tuition reimbursement. Now that I think of it, their benefits got me through the major steps of my life,” she said.
Today she is a vice president and home loans manager. As a manager she relishes in easing the mind of her staff reminding them about bank benefits for those going through a family life change. The bank will also reimburse her up to $8,000 toward legal cost of the adoption.
“I just want to encourage families. If they ever had a desire to adopt, just start researching what to do to get licensed and certified,” she said. “You have to start on your own and be a champion for your family. There will be a lot of phone calls and navigation but it is so worth it. You see that child’s face and give them a forever home; there is nothing better.”
Everyone says he’s a lucky boy.
“No,” she said, “we’re the lucky ones.”