Long Journey to Family: The Shalack Family
Tiffinie and Jonah Shalack wanted to adopt for nearly 20 years but never felt ready for it. Jonah’s dad was adopted so it was always part of the family story. Once they accepted that, like many parents to-be, they may never feel ready, they decided to become foster parents. They learned of Arms Wide by happenstance and contacted our Corpus Christi office to begin the training process.
Foster at First
For the Shalacks, fostering was challenging yet rewarding. As only one of two families in the area certified by Arms Wide to take emergency foster placements, Tiffinie and Jonah only ever received emergency placements for which they had to be prepared at any moment.
“We would take in a kid at 10 p.m. with very little notice and no information on them, except maybe their age,” Jonah says. “As stressful as it is for the parents, it’s a scary situation for the child, so you want to try to make everything as comfortable and calm for them as possible.”
They were dedicated throughout the entire fostering process, driving an hour and a half into Corpus Christi for trainings, meetings, and family visitations. As federal employees, they both received a full three months of paid leave to be foster parents, which they used to its full extent. They also credit the team at Arms Wide for their success in this great responsibility. “Arms Wide understood how hard it was when the children would leave us, so they would check in on us regularly and offer their support,” Tiffinie said.
The Perfect Match
Although they welcomed multiple emergency placements into their home, it was the very first one that changed their lives. Tiffinie and Jonah welcomed Adelynn in August 2022. Little did they know they would be a forever family just over a year later.
“We know the goal of fostering is reunification but something about her was different,” they said. “The moment she was placed with us, we knew we wanted to adopt her. We were completely smitten.”
They began the process of adoption as soon as Adelynn became legally available to adopt, and with the help of Arms Wide, celebrated the fulfilling of their family on National Adoption Day on November 18, 2023.
“Adoption day was so overwhelming; it felt like getting married,” said Jonah. “You kind of go through the motions, and you’re in shock of what’s happening in the moment. By the evening you can finally process what happened.”
“The next day, I said something about ‘our daughter,’” Tiffinie continued. “Not foster daughter. It felt so good to finally breathe, knowing there’s no chance she can be taken away from us anymore.”
They do not yet plan to continue fostering but want to get involved in foster care again in the future.
“The end result far outweighs any of the stress and uncertainty of fostering and adopting,” they say. “You don’t realize how much love you can have for a kid until you have one.”