November is National Adoption Month. In celebration, Upbring is sharing the story of the Vasquez family, one of our most recent adoptions.
Growing up, Sydney and Derek Vasquez knew they wanted to work with children. She’s a second grade teacher who would like to become a reading interventionist one day. He’s a music lover who became a high school band director to inspire kids just like him, someone “who wanted a little more out of life.”
The college sweethearts also dreamed of having a family of their own — but knew there would be challenges along the way. Sydney has been advised not to have biological children due to a health condition.
So the couple researched their options and decided that foster-to-adoption was the best route for them. As Derek put it: “Why not change the life of a kid who hasn’t necessarily had the best start?”
They chose to foster with Upbring because they were so impressed with the staff. “We clicked with Upbring right away. I could tell these were people we wanted to work with,” Sydney says of Megan Howell, Kristina Hinojosa and Alexis Slayton at Upbring Foster In Texas. “They helped make this process really easy for us.”
Sydney and Derek dove into all the training, paperwork and other preparation required to become foster parents. They hoped for a set of siblings, knowing how important it is to preserve the bonds between brothers and sisters in foster care. The Vasquezes also began gathering all the items they would need to welcome children into their home. As the news spread throughout their small town of Tulia, TX (population: 4,400), they were overwhelmed with generous donations.
The Vasquezes became licensed in November 2021 — and then they waited, wondering what God had in store for them. They didn’t have to wait for long. A few days before Christmas, they got the call: Three young children, two boys and a girl, had been removed from their home because of domestic violence and unsafe living conditions.
The couple said “yes” and Sydney, who was visiting family in Oklahoma for the holidays, flew home the very next day. She and Derek went straight from the airport to a car dealership to find a minivan that would fit three car seats. As luck would have it, they bought the only van on the lot.
An Instant Connection
Derek and Sydney met Braxton, Indee and Malikiah on December 22, 2021. “The minute they got out of the SUV, I just felt a connection,” Derek recalls.
Once they got through the excitement of Christmas, Sydney and Derek worked hard to establish a routine for their new family of five. There have been many milestones and happy occasions, too: kindergarten for Braxton, age 5, who recently lost his first tooth; potty training and a birthday party for Indee, now 3; and first words for Malikiah, now 2. The family loves to travel and has already visited the aquarium, the zoo and LEGOLAND. And just last month, the kids went trick-or-treating for the first time.
Braxton, Indee and Malikiah tend to look out for one another, and they can often be found cuddling on the couch together during family movie nights. Derek and Sydney have also taken time to acknowledge all the children have been through and to answer their questions, especially from Braxton, the oldest.
Finally, a Family
Once they reached the six-month mark of fostering, Sydney and Derek took steps toward adoption. The adoption became official on September 21, 2022, in an emotional ceremony at Upbring’s office in Amarillo. There were decorations and treats, and they were joined by the kids’ new grandparents and great-grandparents.
The past year hasn’t always been easy, but Derek and Sydney would do it all over again and are open to adopting a fourth child in the future. They’re grateful for the support of their family and local community, as well as Upbring. “These months have been the best of my whole life,” says Sydney.
Now that they are a forever family, the Vasquezes look forward to bonding and growing together. They can’t wait to celebrate a traditional Christmas and to take the children on many more adventures, including a highly coveted trip to Disney World.
By sharing their story, the Vasquezes hope to shed light on the foster-to-adopt process. “We want to be as transparent as we can so people know more about adoption, what to do and how to get started,” says Sydney. “It’s hard, but also very rewarding.”
Want to adopt in Texas? Like all of Upbring’s adoption programs, Foster In Texas works diligently to provide nurturing forever homes for the children we serve. Learn more about foster-to-adoption in Texas here.