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A Family for Cameron
Published Wednesday, December 11, 2013
May 2012 So we are coming up to almost 3 weeks with Cameron living with us and he is such a joy! I mean yes he is definitely a lot of work, but he has so much love to give!
Either Justin & I sit with him until he falls asleep at night, usually we just listen to a relaxation CD or I read a mediation visualization or help him with his deep breathing since he is going through such a transition & he has such a busy little brain we thought he could use some tools to help himself. But I love it because most nights when it is my turn to sit with him he falls asleep holding my hand in both of his little ones!
He called Justin “dad” yesterday. Justin was at a meeting when the kids & I all got home last night, so he was like “where is dad?” And he sometimes calls me “mom - I mean Jaime.”
And yesterday when I went to pick him up from school for his dentist appointment, I was standing at the front desk talking to the receptionists and he came flying at me and practically leaps on me to give me a gigantic hug. (He loves to do this and he loves to catch me by surprise!)
The office staff were laughing & saying he seems very happy, in fact whenever I am up at the school I always have someone stop me & tell me how happy he is with his mom & dad & big brother & sisters...
Room for One More
Clouds were roiling outside, but inside the two-story home with a big front porch, it was sunny—if not serene. The Short family home is brimming with life, both human and animal. Two large greyhounds, two cockatiels, a rat and a tortoise greet visitors with woofs and squawks. Throw in two busy parents and four lively kids, and the atmosphere is colorful and chaotic and the PERFECT home for a once-lonely little boy.
Cameron Short, 9, sits on the floor in the middle of the bustle, playing with his vibrant collection of Bionicals, basking in the adoration of his two older sisters, Sabrina, 13, and Isabelle, 12, while older brother, Kalen, 17, does his homework in the adjoining room. Justin and Jaime Short, both 35, share their story, their words tumbling on top of the others as they relay how Cameron came to join the family.
“We always knew we wanted to adopt some day,” Jaime explains. “We’ve been talking about it since our oldest was a year old.”
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve just been getting ourselves in a place where we’re ready to adopt,” Justin adds.
Three years ago, the process began. Jaime attended a foster-to-adopt orientation meeting at Child Saving Institute, and the following February she and Justin began taking the required foster parent certification classes. Meanwhile, at home, the family started having conversations about adding another kid to the mix. “I didn’t know if it would really happen,” Sabrina notes.
“In this house, it’s usually a puppy we adopt—not a person,” Isabelle teases, her grin showing a mouth full of braces.
As it turned out, there were even more changes in store. The Short’s house fit the technical requirements for licensure, but the reality of squeezing another person into the space wasn’t appealing. This prompted Justin and Jaime to sell their home and purchase a much larger house that was better equipped to handle the growing family.
Several months later they were ready to receive foster placements, but none of the children seemed a good fit for the family. “One of the biggest things we wanted was to maintain the birth order,” Jaime offers. “We wanted younger than Isabelle, but older than 5.” And Justin hoped to have another boy join the family, just to “bring a little balance back in the house.”
They were searching nationally for this possible match, looking at potential adoptees from Idaho, Mississippi and South Carolina when they received a life-changing call from CSI foster care specialist Shelly Doehring. She told them she had a great lead—just two miles away. “We would have gone anywhere to find you… even Hawaii,” Jaime jokes, looking lovingly at her youngest. “What about time travel?” Cameron asks, his big brown eyes crinkling.
A Rough Start
It’s no wonder Cameron would equate something as unfathomable as time travel to finding a family. Born to a young mother and an absentee father, from infancy until he was about four, he spent weeks and months at a time with strangers when his biological mother would simply disappear when going “out for groceries.” Eventually her parental rights were terminated and the biological father relinquished his rights. Cameron was then placed with relatives, but he never shared an equal heart-hold with his cousins, and was often made to feel unloved and unwanted as he slept in a bed stashed in the corner of a weight room in the basement.
Justin and Jaime arranged to meet Cameron. “I kept preparing myself for ‘What if I don’t like this kid? What will I say?’ I didn’t want to add to his heartache.” Fortunately, it didn’t turn out that way at all. What was the turning point? “He cheated at cards,” Jaime says wryly. “He cheated—and then he felt bad and gave me all his cards. It was exactly what one of my kids would have done. He was one of us.”
At the next meeting they brought the kids and they all went bowling. There were subsequent outings and occasional overnight stays. “It was a lot like dating—except in this case you went to the Children’s Museum,” Jaime jokes.
In April of 2012 Cameron moved in and, last fall, he became a legal member of the family. His life, once filled with sadness and uncertainty, now overflows with siblings, pets and activities like football, Cub Scouts (older brother Kalen will soon earn his Eagle Scout award), and basketball.
It wasn’t always easy. In fact, at times it was downright bumpy. There were adjustments and growing pains. Cameron didn’t know he could ask for help when he was ill. Jamie would wake up to the sound of someone being sick, but he didn’t call to her—because there had been no one to comfort him in the past. “He never complained; we never knew when he wasn’t feeling well. It’s still a problem. He can’t even explain his symptoms. What eight-year-old throws up and quietly goes back to bed? It’s heartbreaking.”
There were others issues as well. Justin’s father—the founder of the family business both Justin and Jaime work for—passed away. “It was a long, rough year,” Jaime says softly. “I don’t know how many times a day we talked to the caseworker at Child Saving Institute.”
“But we never felt alone in the process,” Justin adds. “You don’t know how comforting it was to know help was right there—right there.”
“Adopting is not for the faint of heart,” Jaime observes. “But neither is parenting.”
Cameron: “What does that mean?”
“It means you can’t be a weenie. When parenting, you can’t be a weenie.”