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Almost Empty-Nesters Adopt

  Barbara Lau  

Doug Cameron ’70 and Ginny Shannon Cameron ’71 of Grinnell, Iowa, recall “the struggles, joys, and soulsearching” they experienced when adopting 10-year-old Kim through Iowa KidsSake and the Department of Human Services (DHS). “This was a family decision. Mom and Dad asked us what we thought and we all agreed to do it,” recalls daughter Leslee Cameron Cruz ’00 of Eau Claire, Wis.

Doug: I’m an elementary school principal. Ginny is a librarian. The year Kim entered our lives, our three older children were in college or would be within a year. Adoption was the farthest thing from my thoughts when I served on a team discussing Kim’s gaps in learning. She was a student in my school who had been in foster care for four years. One day Ginny asked me if I knew this little girl who had been looking for books on adoption in the library.

When Ginny suggested adopting Kim, I was stunned. Each day I would go to school, look at Kim and think, “That child could be my daughter.” Then I examined my motivations, asking if I was doing this just to “save” someone, or because we would have an empty nest. After prayerful consideration, I decided I could and should adopt this child. She needed us.

Kim can be impulsive, which sometimes leads to problems and concerns. However, having Kim has been a beautiful experience. Every day I look at her in wonder and awe that she is the way she is—fun, active, outgoing, and respectful of others. She has ample reason to be otherwise.

Ginny: One of the most important lessons we learned in our DHS training is that we will never replace the original family. We accept that Kim has two important families. Also, because kids can be typecast quickly, I have set my expectations for Kim a little higher than the caseworkers. She can rise to challenges and gets good grades. She’s now on a swim team, plays the piano, and is in dance lessons. In terms of my extended family, it has many adoptions, including my sister and grandfather. When I mentioned the idea of adoption to my 90-yearold mother (now deceased), she said, “DO IT!”

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