Forever Siblings: Ralph Dempsey
Ralph Dempsey is a single man who spent time in foster care as a young person. Now, he is an adoptive father to five.
In 2008, he was the biological father of two adults and a foster father to many. When it became too difficult to say goodbye to his children through fostering, he decided to pursue adoption from foster care. Over time, Ralph adopted not one, but two sibling groups and is about to adopt two sibling groups, but after finalizing the adoption of his first two children, who were biological brother and sister and 8 and 10 years old, they asked (and asked) him to adopt a sister or brother for them. After some time and consultation with Julius Jackson, the Adoption Navigator at Adoption Network Cleveland, Ralph took his two young children to an “Adoption Mixer,” an event for prospective parents to meet children who need loving, permanent families.
At the mixer, his daughter and son started talking to two sisters, ages 4 and 9, and immediately hit it off. The sisters at the mixer had spent some time apart in foster care and had their hearts set on being adopted together. “My older children are the ones who convinced me that those were the girls for our family. I felt it was important to empower them in the process and thought it would help them all with the adjustment as our family grew,” said Ralph.
Ralph isn’t finished building his family. Earlier in 2016, Ralph started working on the adoption of a 9-year-old boy. Once his adoption is final, Ralph is talking to Julius about looking for more children in need, perhaps more siblings, who can fit into his family. Julius has been with Ralph through all of these decisions and transitions, and adds, “Ralph is a special kind of adoptive parent who understands the importance of the biological connections of his kids. Not only did he work hard to keep these sibling groups together, he also is committed to keeping some important extended family relationships in their lives, as well.”
Siblings in Openness: Ryan Murphy
Leading a full life as a husband and father, Drew learned some news one day that would rock his world. There was another child out there. It was likely his child – a seven-year-old boy who had been born and placed for adoption without his knowledge and before his marriage. And, devastatingly, he had no idea how to find this boy or if he had “a right” to find him.
“This was the only time in my life that I felt at a loss,” said Drew recently. “There was a little boy out there who may be thinking that he had a dad out there who doesn’t want him.”
He learned about and started attending birthparent meetings with the Ohio Birthparent Group (OBG) in Columbus. There, he found others who felt as he did. “Ultimately, OBG helped me channel my strong emotions in a positive way,” said Drew.
Through some research and digging, Drew was able to find that “needle in a haystack,” as he describes it. He talked to the agency, met with the social worker a few times, who then reached out to the boy’s parents. After two meetings with the adoptive parents, and a positive paternity test, Drew met his son.
Drew adds, “When we brought our two families together, the kids started playing together right away. It was amazing.”
It’s been four years since that first meeting. His son is now 11, and the middle child of his adoptive family, with an older sister, 15, and younger sister, 8. In Drew’s family, he also fits in beautifully with an older sister and three younger half siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 15. Together, they’re making childhood memories to build on for a lifetime.
Drew has been blogging about this experience and shares these additional thoughts: “We are two families that both see the great things that can come out of such a complicated situation. Both families see this as an example as how to handle life’s curve balls. There is no jealousy, fear, or pessimism. Instead there is selflessness, bravery, and optimism. We know we are writing our own guide and we are writing it as a team.”
Check back next week for the final installment of our 3-part sibling series!