MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- For many couples, adoption is another avenue of approach if they are unable to have a baby, but for Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Lavine, an airspeed coordinator for Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31, and his wife Monica, it was more about helping a child in need.
The Lavines recently adopted 10-year-old Jason, who like many other children in orphanages experienced difficulty finding a permanent home.
“This all started when I was watching a talk show in 1994,” Monica said. “It was a show profiling older kids in need of adoption. Everybody always wants to adopt a baby, not an older child. To be a child and be unwanted is terrible, somebody has to save a kid.”
Although Monica and Kevin already had three children, they made the decision to adopt in order to help a child whose future seemed bleak, according to Monica.
“When we first got Jason his two biggest fears were never to be adopted and ending up in the street,” Monica said. “These kids are set up for failure. They are taken care of until they are 18 and then released into the streets.”
Occasionally, the adoption of older children has been featured on television, but the portrayal is completely different than reality, according to Kevin.
“You are dealing with a kid who already has an identity established,” Kevin said. “He already has certain beliefs and understandings. You are dealing with a kid who has been rejected. There is no trust and the kid is always on edge, waiting until you turn him back.”
Although adopting an older child may have been challenging, Monica and Kevin were committed to their decision and sticking with whomever they chose, no matter what the situation.
“We knew that whatever child we chose that it would be for keeps, there was no turning back,” Monica said. “ Rejecting the child one more time would totally devastate him. The only thing that would have changed our minds was the safety of the family and the child.”
Even if a child has problems, it is the responsibility of the adopting parents to help them push past the issues instead of giving up, according to Monica.
“When we first got Jason he was in counseling two times a week and on medication,” Monica said. “Now he is only going to counseling once a week and he’s off the medication. It took us two months of sticking with it.”
Before coming to Beaufort, Jason was in classes for emotionally challenged children. Now that he has settled in with the Lavines, Jason attends Bolden Elementary where he participates in regular classes, and the Lavines attribute Jason’s success to the support of the community and school.
“The school didn’t label him right away and gave him a chance,” Monica said. “He has also gotten support from family and friends, they have been like surrogate parents.”
Jason was not the only one who had to adjust to changes, his new brother and sisters had to make a few sacrifices, according to Monica.
“They have been really good,” Monica said. “They have shown a lot of patience and have tried to understand a situation that may seem incomprehensible. I really admire them.”
An adoption is a serious step that families should discuss before jumping into, according to the Lavines.
“With all the training and paperwork, you can tell if adoption is for you,” Monica said.
The first step in the adoption process is contacting the Department of Social Services, according to Monica.
“After contacting DSS, they sent us an application,” Monica said. “Then we had to go through a 16-hour training course.”
Upon completion of the course, the Lavines were assigned a social worker, who helped them with the rest of the process.
Next, a case study was conducted on the Lavines. This process involved an extensive background check on the whole family.
“They check everything from medical records to the kids’ report cards,” Monica said. “They even check your dogs, if you have any.”
After being approved by DSS, the families can view a variety of pictures of children that need to be adopted, according to Monica.
“It’s like shopping on the Internet,” Monica said. “You can pick and choose everything from skin to hair color. You can also choose kids from any state. Jason is from Florida.”
Once they chose to adopt Jason, the Lavines went and picked him up for a trial period.
“He lived with us for 30 days to see if it would work out,” Kevin said. “It’s a trial period for both sides, he could have decided if he didn’t want to live with us.”
Adopting Jason was not as time consuming or financially demanding as they expected, according to Kevin.
“The state funded everything,” Kevin said. “The only thing we paid for was the gas to pick him up, and even that is tax deductible.”
Many people in the community feel that the Lavines adoption is an extension of their love and caring for other people, according to Petty Officer First Class Joseph McCoy, the leading petty officer for the Air Station Chapel.
“I have been good friends with them for the past two years,” McCoy said. “They are always willing to be there for you, and you can tell that they really care about people. Jason is going into a great home.”