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Family First - Part 1

OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- The decision to start a family is an enormous one for any couple. But for prospective adoptive parents there's another level of factors. Not only do they have to decide if they are ready, emotionally, financially, and physically, but they have to complete and number of steps and have things align just right to be approved for a match.

For Chief Master Sgt. Deborah Marshall and her fiancé Tammy , it has involved weeks of classes, years of waiting, long trips, and having their lives examined by the Department of Child and Families (DCF) to make sure they were the right fit for adoption.

First on the checklist was a mandatory class titled "Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting", a 10 week class for three to four hours once a week. Chief Marshall and Tammy would work their day jobs and then go to the class from six to nine or 10pm. The class is required for anyone who wants to do foster care or who wants to go through the adoption process.

"The class is kind of a two-way interview to see if adoption is right for them and for DCF to assess the couples to see if they are right for adoption," Marshall said.

Following the class, a home study had to be done, including what Marshall estimates to be a 40 page questionnaire about their backgrounds, upbringings, families, and more.

"They really dig into your personal life because the kids are coming from unstable situations," Marshall said.

Through it all, Marshall maintains that it was worth the effort, because she and Tammy felt strongly about this decision and what children they wanted to bring into their lives.

"For us we knew we wanted a sibling group at least two, three if it was the right situation," Marshall said.

Last October, Chief Marshall and Tammy went to an adoption party, which is an event where they bring children waiting to be adopted as well as couples waiting to adopt. The party was scheduled for Sunday, October 6 this and, initially, Chief Marshall was disappointed because she was unable to attend due to the 102nd wing's drill weekend. But, then fate intervened on her behalf.

"Originally, I said I couldn't go because we had a drill weekend, but because of the government shut down the weekend was canceled," Marshall said. "It's ironic the way it worked out."

So there Chief Marshall were, standing at the party with a bunch of kids running around playing when all of a sudden they heard a loud screeching sound. They turned to see a little girl across the room and she just was running towards two boys who picked her up and embraced the young girl.

"We couldn't really figure it out," Marshall said. "We were wondering why they were so excited to see each other. The two separate caregivers that brought them to the party told us they were three siblings and that for the past year and a since they went into foster care they had been put into three different homes in three different towns. During that time they had only been able to see each other once a month for an hour in a little DCF conference room."

So Chief Marshall and Tammy decided to get to know these three children at the party. They spent the day playing basketball, bocce and playing with animals at the petting zoo. They learned more about the children's backgrounds spending and at the end of the day, Chief Marshall and made a decision that would change the course of their lives.

"By the end of the day we went right up to our social worker said 'yes, we like to be considered for these children'," Marshall said. "When we were leaving the party, I said to Tammy, 'I think we just met our kids.'"

...to be continued here: http://www.102iw.ang.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123435490