Dean traveled across the world from India to come home to the Ellermeier family when he was just shy of 2 years old. It didn’t take him long to bond with his new sisters, 5-year-old Ingrid and 3-year-old Willa, in whom he found a kindred spirit. Dean and Willa love exploring outside and getting into everything together. “If he sees his sister doing something, he’s going to do it too,” said his adoptive mother Heidi.
When Heidi and her husband, Jeremy, decided to expand their family through adoption they knew from research they had done that they wanted to preserve the birth order of their children. This meant their next child would need to be an infant or a toddler. After exploring domestic adoption and realizing the length of time they may need to wait, they learned about the international adoption programs of Children’s Home and LSS.
“We felt like we had a lot of love to give. We know that there are a lot of parentless children and we knew there was somebody who would be a good fit for us. Nine months after we called, we had Dean! We were officially matched with him right at Christmas,” said Heidi.
Dean and his sisters all get along famously — enjoying outings at a splash pad or hiking at the local nature center. Heidi and Jeremy trade off work schedules and feel lucky they each get one-on-one time with their children. It might sound like a dream, but it wasn’t always simple.
“I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was really difficult,” said Heidi. “In India, Dean was grieving pretty hard. Once we got home he accepted me, but it took him three or four weeks before he would let Jeremy care for his needs. It was fear and the limitations of what the orphanage could do. There wasn’t a transition period.”
Heidi and Jeremy were originally intimidated by the idea of adopting a child with orthopedic needs. “Some of these special needs seem scary, but they’re really not. The prospect of adopting a child with a limb difference was pretty frightening, but that’s not a concern for me anymore,” said Heidi. Connecting with local support groups and their physical therapist helped Heidi and Jeremy understand Dean’s needs better.
“Some of these things seem overwhelming and some of them are, but it’s amazing how much kids can overcome and adapt,” said Heidi. “At the end of the day, kids just want to be involved and feel loved. You prepare for the worst, but overall the process has been easy,” said Heidi. “The girls have been really excited and accepting of their brother and Dean really feels like he belongs.”