Hudson Valley Parent

HVP November 2015

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Page 8 of 39 ■ Hudson Valley Parent 9 I am a Hudson Valley Parent Marko and Brandon Tomassetti: Fostering Love M arko and Brandon Tomas- setti's childhoods couldn't have been more differ- ent. Marko was the oldest of seven children, so there were always other kids around. Brandon's upbringing didn't involve too many other chil- dren. Both men knew, before they even met each other and started dating, that someday they each wanted to be a dad. After they fell in love and realized they wanted to be dads they had a few hurdles to clear. One was their work schedules. At the time, they were living in Los Angeles. Brandon worked 12 hour days as a location scout and Marko fl ew to the east coast and back every week for his job as a high end hairdresser. "We wanted children," said Brandon, "but if we had them in L.A. we'd be so busy working that we'd never even get a chance to enjoy them. Marko fi gured out that if we moved to New York, I could afford to stay home. I didn't want to live in New York City. The Hudson Valley seemed perfect. Marko could commute, and we could have a nice, spacious life." Moving quickly When they were researching their options as to how to become parents, they originally ruled out becoming foster parents. Then they kept running into people who had become foster parents themselves and who spoke highly of the expe- rience. "We thought 'Ok, this is too weird,'" recalled Brandon. "So we went to a foster care agency to learn more and it just sang to us." The couple moved to Woodstock and started taking the necessary classes to qualify as foster parents. What happened next was unprec- edented.They began training in September, began fostering a baby with special needs named Kameron in March, and ended up adopting him in November. "It was like a hurricane," said Brandon. "We ended up with a child before we even got a chance to settle in. Our situation was unique. They never adopt kids out that early." "People looking at what we went through shouldn't expect their expe- rience to be similar," said Marko. A parent's right The Tomassettis are now big proponents of the foster care sys- tem, especially in Ulster County. They found that the system is small enough that they could quickly de- velop personal relationships with all of the caseworkers. They also think that there's less bureaucracy to deal with. "There are people who move out of New York City and into Ulster County just because of the foster care programs," said Brandon. In ad- dition to now being the legal guard- ians of 18 month old Kameron, they are currently fostering a three month old baby girl. They've also learned a lot throughout the process and know that it's not for everyone. The child can be returned to their biological parents at any time, which can be an emotionally harrowing process for foster parents. But the Tomassettis stress that in the end foster care is really about parent's rights and keeping families together. "A lot has to go wrong for a child to become available for adoption out of foster care," said Marko. "The state doesn't want to take anyone's children away unless they really have to. But when they do, it's important that there are good parents standing by, ready to help." Returning foster children to their biological parents can be tough for foster parents who have spent months up all night with the chil- dren, caring for them, developing relationships with them, and loving them. "It's not about you," said Bran- don. "You can't view it as 'having a child.' Instead, you're stepping into that child's life. Kameron comes with a lot of things. We're in touch with his biological grandparents, because they're his family too. It's not like adoption, where you just walk away with a child and that's basically it." Now, with the adoption process complete, the Tomassettis are free to let their relationship with Kameron continue to deepen. "I didn't bond with him at fi rst," admits Brandon. "I was actually a bit terrifi ed when he fi rst came into our home because I didn't have any experience with children. But the fi rst time he smiled at me when I put him to bed, I just melted. He's very loving, very sweet, even with the new baby around. There's no jealou- sy, there's just a lot of love coming from him." "And we like to take credit for that," says Marko, as the family laughs. Brian PJ Cronin is the editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine. "You can't view this as 'having a child.' Instead, you're stepping into that child's life."

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