Brody’s Story: Finding Support after Kinship Adoption
Brody’s parents didn’t know how to handle his meltdowns, defiance and constant attention-seeking behaviors — until Chosen showed them proven strategies to deal with past hurts.
Chosen was life changing for the Hancock family.
Jessica and Michael Hancock* weren’t looking to adopt. They were almost empty nesters, but when a little boy in their extended family found himself all alone in the world, they stepped up to keep him out of foster care.
After Brody came home, the Hancocks felt overwhelmed and isolated, and it wasn’t until a play therapist recommended Chosen that they began to fully understand what he needed to truly thrive.
Here’s their story.
He was Alone
Michael and Jennifer Hancock’s first two kids were off to college with a third soon to follow. They were ready for life’s next phase. But then, Brody’s dad died of cancer.
Brody, the toddler son of a close relative, was alone.
His mother was in jail, struggling with opioid addiction. It broke the Hancocks’ heart. What now? Michael and Jessica knew they couldn’t let Brody end up in the child welfare system, but it also meant these almost empty nesters would be going back to preschool.
“With Kinship Adoption, There is No Support”
Instead of goodnight kisses and bedtime stories, Brody’s early days were filled with neglect, loneliness, and the physical effects of intrauterine drug exposure. He needed someone, and the Hancocks were it. Michael credits his strong faith with the decision to bring Brody home.
But the adoption process was unrelenting. It dragged on—more than two-and-a-half years—and unlike adoptions through the state, the Hancocks faced a pile of expensive legal bills, a bureaucratic web, no state support, and much uncertainty.
As Jessica puts it, “Kinship adoption is not for the light-hearted. It is disheartening and not financially feasible for a lot of people.”
Finally, adoption day came. The family celebrated with close family members who had walked this journey with them, but Michael and Jennifer’s challenges with Brody were only beginning. He had powerful meltdowns, unstoppable defiance, and constant attention seeking. His behavior at preschool was simply dismal. What had they gotten themselves into?
Jessica is a board-certified behavioral analyst. While she understood the cause of Brody’s challenges, she wasn’t trained in trauma, and Brody’s behaviors were something else. She knew if they didn’t get the help they needed and soon, Brody’s health and behaviors would only get worse. She says, “There were lots of tears. We felt isolated.”
“I Never Thought We Would be Where We are Now”
The day she recommended Chosen, Brody’s play therapist changed everything for the Hancocks. Still, they worried about the money. After spending so much on Brody’s adoption, where in the world would the money come from for more additional help? Chosen stepped up with a program scholarship. It was the first glimpse of support they’d seen on this journey.
With Chosen, the Hancocks also found a case manager they could trust who offered the support they so desperately needed. Through their case manager, Michael and Jennifer learned more tools to build better attachment with Brody and to keep him from falling into a fight or flight response. As Jessica puts it, “Our Care Manager gave us the tools so we could handle things ourselves. We felt safe with our Care manager. We could tell her what happened and feel supported.”
Jessica and Michael jumped into to Chosen’s 13-week program to learn more about trauma response. They began to understand the meaning behind Brody’s actions and how to respond more effectively. They discovered tools to manage the challenges common to children who have experienced chronic early childhood stress—exactly the behaviors they were living with.
Michael said, in addition to helping him parent Brody better, the training helped him deal with his own past trauma and became a better parent.
After working with Chosen, Jessica said Brody’s behavioral issues faded and “By the end of the school year, Brody was a model student and the highest achiever in his class.”
Brody is thriving.
Looking to the Future
Brody is still young, and Jessica and Michael do worry about the questions that will inevitably come from Brody about his past. Their Chosen Care Manager has helped there as well. She provided guidance for the Hancocks about how to talk to Brody and tell him his story. Jessica and Michael say knowing they can go back to Chosen when issues arise is just the support they need for the future.
Every year, Chosen helps hundreds of adoptive families build bonds of trust. And we’re looking for partners to help heal their heartbreak. Your gift gives families the assurance they need to provide attachment and permanency for kids who desperately need it.
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* Names have been changed