“Focus on Our Families” is a series of articles that feature foster and adoptive parents and their experiences so those inside and outside of the organization will have a better understanding of the importance and the rewards of foster parenting and/or being an adoptive parent.
Long before Jay and Reggie Combs-Harris met and married, they knew they wanted to become parents. They knew that raising children would not only be personally fulfilling, but having the opportunity to change a life and give a child a ‘forever family’ would be the greatest gift they could give a child.
And they offer many gifts to share with children. Jay is a CPA working for a public consulting firm, while Reggie, who holds an MSW and is a licensed EMT, works as a social worker at a children’s hospital. Both are also extremely civic-minded and believe in giving back to one’s community.
“Together we make a great combination of different strengths,” says Jay.
Aside from their personal gifts and strengths, both Jay and Reggie had some familiarity with the child welfare system. Jay was raised by his mother’s best friend and later adopted by her. Meanwhile, Reggie’s grandmother was a foster parent, adopted one of the children she had fostered, and Reggie grew up surrounded with foster cousins.
Knowing firsthand what a stable and loving home can mean to a child, as adults they were determined to emulate their beloved family members.
In early 2015, Jay and Reggie began the process of fostering with the intention of adopting. They contacted CONCERN’s Southeast Regional Office in Willow Grove and the process began.
Not knowing CONCERN, Reggie and Jay wanted to make sure it was a good fit for them.
Reggie explains, “Being a same-sex married couple, we were not sure how inclusive CONCERN and its staff would be. From the moment we had the initial telephone call to the first in-person meeting, we felt comfortable and respected as individuals and as a gay married couple.”
After an application, interviews, backgrounds checks, home visits, safety assessments, and training, Jay and Reggie were approved to be foster parents in August 2015. By November, their journey of completing their family began with the placement of an infant boy into their home. Within a year, another little boy joined their family.
By the time parental rights had been terminated for each child, the parent-child bonds had already begun to form and as Reggie states, “we wanted to be our foster sons’ parents for the rest of our lives.”
With parental rights for both children terminated, the adoption processes proceeded. By November 2017, the first adoption was finalized and just earlier this year the second adoption was finalized.
“Both of our children are our heroes,” says Reggie. “Both have cerebral palsy and strive to overcome barriers every day. The experience of adopting two special needs children has given us great perspective about what’s truly important in life.”
Jay states, “The process can seem daunting, scary and endless, but the outcome gratifying, humbling and truly rewarding for everyone involved.”
Reggie continues, “A word of advice to those considering becoming a foster parent and potentially an adoptive resource, DO IT!!!”
If you wish to experience the joys of becoming a foster and/or an adoptive parent like Jay and Reggie Combs-Harris, please contact us.