ANNA — Madison Holthaus, 3, of Anna, summed up her Christmas wish in her letter to Santa Claus as only a child can do. She told Santa “We are family now.”
That Christmas wish came true for Madison and her sister, Claire, 2, on Oct. 11, 2019, when their foster mom, Melissa Holthaus, of Anna, became their forever mom when their adoption was finalized by Judge Jeff Beigel in Shelby County Probate Court.
And Madison and Claire’s adoptions weren’t the only ones Beigel finalized this year. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, of Miami County, adopted a daughter earlier in the year. The couple requested their first names not be used to protect their daughter’s privacy and the Sidney Daily News is honoring their request.
Melissa Holthaus became a foster to adopt parent in December 2017. In February 2018, she became the foster mom of Claire, who was 2 months old, and her sister, Madison, 2.
“I began fostering because I saw a lot of need in the community and overall there was a large need for homes for children to go to when they needed them,” said Holthaus.
Holthaus said she knew she wanted to adopt a child, but she didn’t think the adoption would be this soon after she began fostering.
“They were the first children I fostered,” said Holthaus. “They immediately fell into place in our family. Claire was only two months old and she bonded to me as her primary caretaker.
“Madison was two and she was craving attention and love,” she said. “She’s best friends with one of my nieces who is the same age. It’s been fun to watch them grow up together. Both girls fell immediately fell into place with my family.”
Holthaus let officials know that if their girls’ biological parents ever relinquished their claim to them, she wanted to adopt both girls.
“Over the summer, the way the case was heading, it looked like the girls would be available for adoption,” said Holthaus. “I couldn’t imagine not stepping up to be their mom. I had talked about the possibility of adopting them for a year.
“I love them so it was a very easy decision to adopt them,” she said.
After the girls became “legally free for adoption,” a matching conference was held where she said she wanted to adopt the girls and filled out paperwork.
“I was ecstatic and jumping up and down,” said Holthaus. “I had a flood of emotions filling me. I was able to tell my daughters the news and they were so excited.
Holthaus created a sign for the girls to hold announcing their adoption. The photo was sent to all their friends and family announcing the adoption. The sign read “Meet us @ the courthouse Friday, October 11 9:30 a.m.”
“That was the easiest and quickest way to share our news,” said Holthaus.
Holthaus said this Christmas is bringing a flood of new emotions. She knows she and the girls will never be apart again.
“Last Christmas was a hard time,” said Holthaus. “We were unsure of a permanency plan for the girls. This year, it’s fun to know they are here forever. We’re going to create our own family traditions. We all have peace of mind that they won’t be leaving our family.”
Holthaus said the girls know they are adopted. She said she’ll tell them their story when it’s appropriate.
“I think the story now is all about them and how they wanted a forever family,” said Holthaus. “Madison’s letter to Santa has brought peace to me and that brings joy to me. We are very blessed.”
In addition to their mom, the girls have their grandparents (Holthaus’ parents), six aunts and uncles and 12 cousins in their extended family
“Everyone is excited for this Christmas,” said Holthaus.
Road to adoption
The Thompsons are the parents of three children, 15, 12 and 7. They prayed about becoming foster parents and adopting a child.
“This past March we adopted our youngest daughter who is 3,” the couple wrote in an email. “She was 16 months when she joined our family through foster care. The choice to grow our family through adoption, is one that our family prayed about a lot and a decision we made as a family.
“The huge global need for people to provide care for those that cannot provide it for themselves is why the Lord called our family to provide foster care for our local community. There are so many children in need of stable, loving families and being so blessed, we knew the Lord would provide us a path to give back through foster care and ultimately adoption. Our hearts break for the innocent kids who are in situations that lead to a foster care placement,” they said.
The couple became licensed to be foster parents through Shelby County Job and Family Services.
“Although, we live outside Shelby County we choose to become licensed to provide foster care through Shelby county because the Job and Family Services staff we initially contacted was friendly and truly helped walk us through the licensing process. The Shelby County team made us feel like we were on their team and partnered with us immediately, being very understanding that we had never gone through their process,” they said.
Their daughter was the first placement they had through foster care. At the time, they were a temporary family.
“As reunification is the primary goal with foster care placements, we worked with the agency and birth parents to reunite our daughter with her first family,” they said. “As it began to become evident that the birth parents would not be suitable to reunite with our daughter, we were able to adopt her after being placed with our family for 651 days – this simply formalized what knew in our hearts, she is and will always be a member of our forever family. God had a plan for this little girl and we are thankful to be a part of her story.”
After the couple knew they were going to adopt the child, they explained it to her.
“We prepared her as well as we could prepare a 3 year old. She was aware of the adoption and we explained to her she is part of our family forever. Through our formal training, independent research and insight from Shelby County Job and Family Services we feel that its very important to be open and honest with her about to her story. As she gets older we will continuing to expand and answer questions about her placement and her transition into her forever family,” they said.
The couple said their extended family has been wonderful and lovingly accepted their daughter as family from day one.
“Although this is her first Christmas sharing our last name it will be her third Christmas as a member of our family. She and her sister recently visited Santa, where she asked for a baby doll and a Rudolph stuffed animal,” said the Thompsons.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.