‘So thankful, so blessed’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2017

McClungs foster, adopt baby Madelyn

For two years, Tari and Shon McClung had been working toward becoming foster parents.

“Life’s just busy, and we never got finished with the classes,” Mrs. McClung said.

They had the criteria. A bedroom was set up with double beds, and they were prepared to take a child from toddler to second or third grade.

They had just completed the classes this past summer when they were told about Maddie, an infant, who was in temporary foster care.

“Just hearing her name and knowing she needed a home, we fell in love with her before we had ever seen her,” Mrs. McClung said.

“We had two weeks to prepare for an infant, and then we started the transition,” she said.

The McClungs’ youngest child was 8 at the time, and the family had not planned to have other children, so they needed a few things. They quietly called friends with younger children.

“People from work – from both of our offices – and families we knew gave us things. In two weeks, we painted a nursery, put furniture up, and got car seats.”

The McClungs have a high school senior, Sarah, and a third grader, Emma.

“It was a challenge,” Mrs. McClung said. “It was like a whirlwind, everything happened so quickly.”

They visited Maddie’s temporary foster family a couple of times, and Maddie spent the night with the McClungs once.

“We got to know the foster family very well,” she said.

When the time came for Maddie to move to the McClungs’ home, the foster family was invited to supper.

“They came over so their kids could see where Maddie was going,” Mrs. McClung said. “They had been praying for a family for her.

“We were standing at the windows waiting,” she said. “We couldn’t wait. But at the same time, we knew in the backs of our heads, she might not stay.”

The McClungs’ daughters took to Maddie instantly.

“We had talked to them those two years about being foster parents,” she said. “So they were fully on board, and supportive and excited.”

The transition was great.

“Sarah is a nurturer, and helps me with diaper changes, feedings, rocking and all of that,” she said. “Emma can walk into the room, and it is the sweetest and funniest thing. Maddie cannot wait for her to get to her, because she knows she will play.”

Having an infant changed things. The McClungs don’t do as many extra-curricular activities. Mrs. McClung makes wedding cakes and caters, in addition to her full-time job at CCB Community Bank, but she has temporarily stopped that.

“Instead, I sit in the floor and play,” she said.

Maddie spends her days with Mrs. McClung’s mother, just as the two older children did.

When Maddie came to the McClungs, the family knew there was a good chance Maddie’s family would allow her to be adopted. But in the beginning, they weren’t sure. In Alabama, if a child can be adopted, fosters parents are given that option.

The family had considered adoption before, but never felt peace about any of the options they explored.

“We had friends involved in the foster care program, so we got involved,” she said. “We saw how they affected children’s lives.”

The McClungs had always wondered if they could love a child that wasn’t their biological child as much as they loved a natural born child.

“You can love that child just as much,” she said. “Once they’re there, they’re yours. You love them.”

Mrs. McClung said Madelyn Grace was a perfect fit for their family.

“It wasn’t until middle of September that the parental rights ended, and she was officially up for adoption,” Mrs. McClung said. “There was no question from Day 1. We wanted to adopt her.”

That day came officially on Oct. 19. They announced the addition to the family by saying “She was born 04.22.17. God placed her with us and she stole our hearts 08.01.17. She took our last name 10.19.17.”

“It was a humbling experience, from start to finish,” Mrs. McClung said. “We are so thankful, and we feel so very blessed.”