Adoption is Love and the Sanzos are the Proof
People who adopt children from foster care are very special. Could it be that they just have more love to give than those of us who don't?
If anyone wants to make that case, Exhibit A is Whitney Sanzo, who lives with her husband Michael and her seven children in Granby.
Yea, seven. They are children she gave birth to, adopted and fostered. She loves them all the same and with all her heart.
In 2007, Whitney and Michael, who started as college sweethearts, had a daughter, Addy, who is now age 13. After the birth, the couple had difficulty getting pregnant again, and they decided a good alternative would be to adopt children in foster care.
"We weren’t getting pregnant fast enough," Whitney remembered. "So we pursued both paths - having our own child and adopting."
In 2010, the pair got licensed as foster parents by the Department of Children and Families. Since then, the Sanzos fostered a total of 25 children, including respite and emergency care. Some of the children had complex medical needs and others were parts of sibling groups. Most of those children were returned home, and others went to other homes.
And then there were four who never left.
In 2011, Anthony, a little boy in foster care, was placed by the Department in the Sanzo home. About 17 months later, they adopted Anthony, who is now 10 years old.
In 2012, the Department placed Alan, then an infant in foster care, with the Sanzos. Then just six months later, the Department brought Sammy, a baby girl, to the home.
At that point in 2012, the family included a birth child, an adopted child, and two children in foster care.
So, of course, in the inexplicable way the world can work, Whitney got pregnant. She gave birth to Ella in January 2013. That would not be the last addition.
Having already adopted Anthony in 2012, the Sanzos would adopt Sammy in 2015 and then Alan in 2019.
"It was the craziest time and happiest time in my life," Whitney said. "It was the most important thing I could do. It was so fulfilling."
In March 2017, the Department brought 3-month old A.J. to the Sanzo family. On November 20, the day that is celebrated as Adoption Day, Whitney and Michael adopted A.J., who turns four in December. Due to the pandemic, the legal proceeding to finalize the adoption occurred remotely through a video conferencing platform. In total, over 20 children were adopted statewide on Adoption Day.
"It's a great day. We've been looking forward to it for a while," Michael said. "He is an awesome kid and we are happy to have him finally a part of our family permanently."
A.J. is the fourth child the couple adopted - joining the two girls that Whitney birthed. Oh, yes, there is also A.J.'s brother who was placed in the home as a foster child and who is expected to be reunified with his mother.
Some families can't handle the emotional rollercoaster of foster care - where not knowing if a child is going to be reunified or become available for adoption is common.
Whitney said, however, that building a beneficial relationship with birth parents has been a big part of her satisfaction with caring for children in foster care.
"I was always really comfortable developing relationships with parents and extended families," she said. "Sure, we wanted to grow our family. But we also understand the Department needs foster caregivers and most important that there will always be children who need them. It is about loving these children like your own, while also realizing it can be temporary."
Whitney said she loves caring for the children but also advocating for them. "I just felt like what I was doing was so important, and I really loved that." She has a strong partner in her husband, Michael.
Another joy about adopting and fostering for Whitney is the relationships that develops among the children themselves - regardless of how they entered the family.
"They all look out for each other," she said. "Everyone chips in. We work as a team to get things done."
With the adoption now complete and Thanksgiving right around the corner, what is next for the Sanzo family? "It will be a great time to celebrate for AJ and just enjoy some time together," Michael stated.