When Brandon and Karis Heffron decided they wanted to explore adoption as a way to grow their family, they kept their options open. Wide open.
“You’re asked how many children and what age range you’re willing to consider,” said Karis. “We wrote down 0-to-15 for ages and a sibling group of up to four. I didn’t want to shut the door on anything the Lord might have in store for us!”
The broad age range meant there was the possibility the Heffrons could be matched with an infant or toddler, so the couple had to go through safety training on how to properly lock down a car seat, add latches on kitchen cupboards, and install railings on beds.
Little did they know those precautions wouldn’t be necessary to protect their future child from any hazards. Elijah, 15 years old and pushing six feet tall when he was matched with the Heffrons, had clearly outgrown the precocious toddler stage.
“We joke with him that we have so many skills that are going to waste!” said Brandon. “Instead of knowing about car seats, we should have studied up on drivers’ ed!”
Brandon says he was always on the fence about becoming a parent. After 15 years of marriage to Karis with whom he owns and operates a tattoo business in Roseville, Minnesota, he was satisfied with their life together. But he knew Karis wanted—and needed—to be a mother, so after years of trying to conceive a child, he brought up the idea of adoption.
“At first, I did this for Karis,” Brandon said. “I knew it would be a big change to have a child come into our family and that I’d have to make sacrifices. And that’s been true, but I’ve also grown so much as a person by having Elijah in our lives.
“In many ways, it feels like it’s always been this way, like he’s always been with us.”
And, in some ways, he has. Brandon and Karis like to think that Elijah’s life has been running parallel to theirs, coming together on significant dates.
The Heffrons were engaged New Year’s Eve of 2004. They submitted the first part of their adoption application 14 years later, also on New Year’s Eve.
Karis and Brandon were married in 2005, the same year Elijah was born. And, they first met Elijah—albeit virtually because of Covid—on June 4, 2020 which happened to be their 15th wedding anniversary.
Elijah acknowledges the synchronicity of his life with his parents’. He gave his dad a card on Father’s Day with the message, “We were together, even when we weren’t.”
Karis’s advice for others thinking about adopting, especially an older child, is to be open to all possible options. “I had no idea how we would decide if a child presented to us was the right child for us. Once we read about Elijah, it all clicked.”
Karis refers to this as “following the grace,” when she realized she had the capacity to take on a situation she once considered outside her capacity. It hasn’t come without challenges, and she and Brandon often remind their son that, unlike an infant or toddler who doesn’t remember those new-parent foibles, he’s old enough to witness every misstep.
“Fortunately, Elijah is an easy-going kid. He understands we’ve never done this before!” said Karis. “We’re so grateful that he’s willing to show us grace. That, along with God’s, will keep us strong.”Learn About Foster Care Adoption Donate to Children’s Home