When Lyndsay and Mark Petrich are asked how many kids they have, they pause for a moment before saying with a chuckle, “We don’t even know! We’ve lost track!” Clearly, this isn’t true when, moments later they are asked to describe each child’s characteristics, and they are filled with delight—and more than a trace of parental pride.
“Our oldest, Hayden, is athletic and driven,” said Mark. “Adalynn is creative and genuine. Adrian, determined and protective. Lilly, spunky and outgoing. Grayson is silly and cuddly. Charlene is the observant helper in the family, while Damian is smart and strong-willed. And, Sabrina, the baby, is joyful and easy-going.”
And the parents—how would they describe each other? Mark, a business credit manager at a bank, says their busy family thrives because of his wife’s outstanding organizational skills and deep interest in researching the best way to be a parent to children who have experienced trauma. Lyndsay, a cardiac nurse, says her husband’s more laid-back style helps balance their clan.
They both agree that growing their family through adoption was the right choice for them.
“When you know there’s a need and you know how important family is and how much it means for children to have the support of a family,” said Lyndsay, “well, it just seems natural to fill that role, to be that family.”
Lyndsay and Mark have always been open to the possibility of fostering or adopting. Mark grew up with a brother adopted from Russia, their nieces are adopted, and Lyndsay has a childhood friend who is a foster parent. They credit her with opening their eyes to the significant need of children in the U.S. who are waiting to be adopted, especially older children and sibling groups.
And then there were eight
With their three birth children growing and flourishing, Lyndsay led the way on how they might expand their family. “She was definitely the instigator,” said Mark. “I wasn’t always gung ho about the idea, but I also wasn’t not open to it. I was more cautious.”
Mark’s wariness soon gave way to being a full-hearted champion after attending classes at Children’s Home for prospective adoptive families. Lyndsay points out that once they were in the match process and presented with children, Mark said “Yes!” to every child who came their way.
In February 2020, they were licensed to be a foster family. A few months later, they were asked to provide respite care for four siblings. When the children left after four days, the Petrich’s birth children, Hayden, Adalynn and Grayson cried.
“None of us wanted to say goodbye,” recalled Lyndsay. “It was a natural fit. We knew we wanted these kids to be a part of our family.” Adrian, Lilly, Charlene and Damian moved in with the Petrich family about two weeks later.
This past February, the children’s birth mother gave birth to Sabrina. Mark and Lyndsay didn’t hesitate to welcome her to join her brothers and sisters.
Keeping the connections with birth parents open
Right now, the children have no contact with their birth mother and are working with DCS to connect with their birth fathers. In the meantime, Lyndsay and Mark don’t hesitate to talk to their children about them.
“Their birth parents are an important part of their life, so we very much want them to feel comfortable talking about them,” said Mark. “This is part of their story and it’s important to be connected to that.”
“We’re not trying to replace their birth parents,” added Lyndsay. “We are their mom and dad, and their birth parents are, too. They don’t have to choose. They can love us both. We are all part of the same family.”
Lyndsay and Mark’s advice to those growing their families through foster care or adoption is to never stop learning, especially from adults who grew up with foster and adoptive families and from birth families.
They both agree their biggest learning curve has been the perception they used to have about birth parents, which they admit was critical. “We learned there are many sides of the story,” said Lyndsay. “Our experience has really opened our eyes to how much a person’s life is affected by trauma. We are thankful to be a part of that healing process.”
The couple continues to take advantage of the resources provided by Children’s Home through post adoption services. A parenting coach checks in with them every week to see if they have questions or need support. Lyndsay says the advice has been invaluable and keeps her centered.
Mark says their life as parents to eight children is often chaotic—“Good chaotic! Fortunately, we laugh a lot. Otherwise, we would probably cry!”
And the greatest gift the children bring to their family? “They’re all really good sleepers.”