“Daddy!” shouts Adam’s young son from the other room.
“What is it, bud?” Adam calls back.
“I love you!”
“I love you, too.”
When Adam was facing 230 months in prison following years of addiction, he never thought he would again have the opportunity to be safely reunited with his two sons and hear those words again. He knew it would take hard work and a lot of accountability to get back to them, and he was ready to put in that work.
“I don’t want to be that person to just give up on my kids,” Adam said. “I wanted them to know that I did whatever was necessary to be back with them.”
After his release from prison, Adam was eager to work with KVC and other supportive programs to start seeing his two sons again. And with KVC as a partner, Adam gets to hear those joyful words — I love you! — every day.
Watch this short, heartwarming video to learn more about Adam’s incredible story of love and resilience.
Caring Foster Parents
Adam is among numerous parents around the country who are grateful for foster care and organizations like KVC to help reunite them with their children after foster care. Over KVC’s 52-year history, 40,151 children and counting have been supported by loving foster families. In 2021 alone, KVC trained or supported 5,125 foster caregivers. These individuals ensure that children receive the nurturing, support and education they need to thrive, and they play a significant role in helping children recover from trauma and/or neglect.
Among the people Adam credits with helping his family through this difficult time were the foster parents who cared for his children. “I think I was really blessed with the foster parents that we had,” Adam said, reflecting on the important role they played in his reunification. “They were there for my children when I couldn’t be.” He appreciates how this foster family stepped in and cared for his kids when he wasn’t able to, and they had very open and kind communication throughout the reunification process, supporting Adam every step of the way.
“We are new foster parents and Adam’s boys are only the second placement we had,” said Kayla PIeschke, foster parent. “When we prepared to meet Adam, we were nervous. But his son ran right to him calling “Daddy!” and he introduced himself to us. We spent a good deal of time chatting about the boys and their development. Adam told us right from the beginning that he would need to be a team with us, and we have been a team ever since. Every time I saw Adam, he thanked us for taking care of his kids and said he was so happy that the kids are happy. From the moment I met Adam, he’s been positive and he worked really hard to reunify with his boys. I am still a part of the kids’ lives. I help take them to appointments or take them out to lunch. Parenting is hard for anyone – it’s a lot of work. So I’m thankful that he’s accepted we are part of their lives. This is what you do foster parenting for – for families to get back to together and for our family to be extended.”
“Adam told us right from the beginning that he would need to be a team with us, and we have been a team ever since.” – Kayla PIeschke, foster parent
Successful Reunification After Foster Care
The goal of foster care, ultimately, is reunification. And foster care is a safe place that allows both a child and their birth family to resolve conflicts or disruptions and learn healthy skills so the child can safely return home.
Adam put in the work to recover and prepare his life to support and care for his two sons and is now proudly more than 17 months clean and actively working with his sponsor in recovery programs. While it was ultimately Adam’s own drive that successfully and safely reunified him with his children, he is grateful to KVC for their accountability and partnership in helping him get to a place where reunification was ideal.
Adam credits many people for this successful reunification, especially his KVC worker, Zane Johnson. Adam shared how appreciative he is of Zane’s constant communication and support. “He was there for me for all my court dates,” Adam said. “He stood up and said that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. We had a really good relationship.” Having accountability through his KVC worker enabled Adam to take full responsibility for what had happened and what he needed to do to safely reunite with his sons.
Systems of Support
Beyond partnerships with KVC, foster care and his recovery sponsor, Adam has discovered a renewed passion for recovery and safely reunified families through his work with Oxford House. The worldwide self-run, self-supported recovery housing aims to help individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction to stay clean in a group living situation. What makes Adam’s Oxford House unique is that it is a home for single fathers who have been safely reunited with their children. “It’s just like a big family. We’re all after the same goals,” Adam said.
After living in an Oxford House for seven months, Adam became president of the new house in Topeka so he could have a place to reunite with his sons. The three now live there with a few other families, all of whom were safely reunited through working with KVC.
Putting the Kids First
Recovery for Adam has gone beyond his personal experience, as it all came down to doing what was best for his children. “I don’t subject my children to the things that they were subjected to in my addiction,” Adam said, considering how his parenting has changed since his recovery and reuniting with his children. “Any time I make a decision now, I think about what’s in the best interest of my children. In my addiction, I figured as long as I provided for my children and they had what they needed, I was a good parent. But now they’re not subjected to those types of people or situations.”
One of the ways Adam has started prioritizing his kids is through their time together on weekends. The week may be filled with school for the kids and work for Adam. But when the weekend comes, it’s all about fun times for the family! Whether it’s going to monster truck shows, the county fair or just playing at the park, every weekend Adam is intentional about spending quality time with his children together. These are experiences he missed while his children were in foster care, and he doesn’t take a moment for granted today.
When asked to reflect on what his life looks like now, Adam kept coming back to the word “blessed.” He never imagined he would be 17 months clean and president of a recovery house chapter, working a great job detailing cars and enjoying the simple pleasure of getting off work and going to pick up his two sons — “and knowing they’re going home with me,” he says.
“It’s like a huge weight off my shoulders,” Adam explained, “Never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d be sitting where I’m sitting now.”
Hope for Reunification
With a passion for helping other fathers reunite with their children, Adam finds deep fulfillment in being a founding member of the Oxford House Buchanan Men and Children’s House, a self-supporting drug-free home for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Since taking on this role, he has seen parents succeed and he has seen parents struggle. In every situation, Adam encourages parents to see their potential and never give up.
When asked what advice he has for other parents working to reunify with their children, Adam said, “If you really want it, it can be done. You just have to put your kids first and let go of all the street stuff. The streets aren’t going to support you in getting your kids back. You have to put your kids first.”
Half of children who leave foster care each year are safely reunited with their birth families, and it is our goal at KVC to ensure children receive a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible when reunification can occur.
“Who’s your best friend?” Adam asks his energetic son.
“You are!” his son giggles in response.
Every night before going to bed, Adam’s son declares this as he is tucked safely in bed by his father. “That’s where it’s at,” Adam smiles. “Right there.”
Last year, KVC cared for 4,634 children in foster care, helping many of them safely reunite with their families. Adam and his two sons are one success story among many. At KVC, we envision a world in which every person is safe and connected to a strong family and a healthy community. Adam’s story is one of many, and he’s grateful to be connected to his children once again.