Adoption leads to memorable Mother’s Day

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Lesli Lukeman of Selvin, left, and her newly adopted daughter, Enly, 6, spin around on the tire swing at Holland Park on Friday. “Now I have someone who counts on me, who relies on me, who loves me, and I didn’t know it was possible to love someone who wasn’t biologically yours as much as we do,” Lesli said. On May 2, Enly was officially adopted into the Lukeman family. The family began fostering Enly on Aug. 24, 2018, which is also Lesli and Enly’s shared birthday. “This year was a special year. It was a special Christmas, it was a special birthday ... and it’s just gonna get better from there,” Lesli said, adding that this year’s Mother’s Day is just as much about celebrating Enly. 

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

SELVIN — Lesli (Rogers) Lukeman of Selvin celebrated her first Mother’s Day as a mom Sunday.

Earlier this month, Lukeman and her husband, Dave, finalized the adoption of their daughter, Enly, 6. It marked the end of a two-year-long process that began in 2017 when Lesli and Dave became foster parents.

“We went into the foster program with the goal to adopt,” Lesli said. “It took a year to even get a call.”

The call finally came in March 2018 when the Department of Child Services called to see if the Lukemans would be interested in fostering Enly. The couple originally entered the program looking for a boy under 2 years old. But when they got Enly’s file, something about the little girl stuck with them. Lesli still doesn’t know exactly what it was about Enly that stood out.

Enly came to live with the Lukemans on Aug. 24, 2018 — her birthday and Lesli’s 39th. It was a birthday wish come true for them both. Although Lesli is stepmom to Dave’s three older children, she’d always wanted a little one of her own. Unable to have biological children, adoption was the next best thing. For the Lukemans, it’s been a positive process.

“Everybody’s been so accepting since the beginning and just accepted her as part of the family,” Lesli said.

Lesli Lukeman of Selvin, right, and her newly adopted daughter, Enly, 6, swing together at Holland Park on Friday. 

The Lukemans know their experience with foster parenting and adoption has been better than others. Enly was a ward of the state when she came to live with the Lukemans, so they didn’t have to worry about visitations with her biological parents. That also meant the Lukemans could file for adoption sooner. Generally, foster parents have to wait at least six months to file, but the Lukemans filed in October 2018.

In the months between Enly’s arrival in the Lukeman house and the closing of the adoption this month, the Lukemans behaved as though Enly was already family. They took her to the dentist and to the eye doctor to get glasses. Enly wanted her hair in a different style, Lesli recalled, so they got it cut. Enly got a bubble bath for the first time, and learned to eat corn on the cob. The Lukemans also enrolled Enly at Holland Elementary.

Now, with the adoption finalized, not much will change in the Lukemans’ day-to-day lives, but everything changes in other ways. Enly is now legally part of the family, with Lesli and Dave’s last name. And any uncertainty about Enly’s future in the family is gone.

“It was just a weight off our shoulders,” Lesli said of finalizing the adoption. “We all slept really good that night.”

Looking ahead, the Lukemans know they’ll face unique challenges. They don’t know much about Enly’s first six years of life, and she’ll have to repeat kindergarten. Enly will also always know she’s adopted, and she might have questions in the future. When that day comes, Lesli said, the Lukemans have a file they can share with her.

But those challenges aren’t a concern for the Lukemans, Lesli said. They’re just part of parenting.

“People face things every day with children,” Lesli said. “We aren’t going to be any different.”

The main thing for all of them is that Enly gets a fresh start and has the family she’s always wanted.

“She just wants to love and be loved,” Lesli said. “She’s a hugger.”

Lesli Lukeman of Selvin, right, helps her newly adopted daughter, Enly, 6, play on a pull-up bar at Holland Park on Friday.



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