In 1985, Gerald and Natalie Brockman were getting married. They talked about future plans, which included starting a dude ranch for children with troubling backgrounds. Two years into their marriage, they were blessed with their first daughter, and then their second. Before they knew it, life had taken them away with distractions.
Thirty-three years later, their daughters left the nest and had lives of their own. One daughter who worked in a group home for boys would frequently call Natalie to vent about the stress of her job. Hearing the stories about the lives of these boys without permanent families would make Natalie weep.
Natalie remembers the day when she told her daughter that she was either going to have to stop telling her about these kids, or that she was going to have to do something to make a change. That is when the adoption seed was planted. When Natalie talked to her husband about it, Gerald said, “What took you so long to figure this out?” He, too, had decided he wanted to adopt.
That was three years ago. Natalie says she could complain about the amount of time it took to finalize their adoption, but instead they are grateful that the time consisted of helpful classes focused on parenting, behavioral education about kids from difficult circumstances, understanding their perspective about their lives and their biological families, among other topics.
“There is so much to learn about these kids if they are to be loved and respected,” said Natalie. “I wish that community members, teachers, doctors – everyone could learn to understand and respect what foster children have been through.”
On Aug. 29, 2018 the Brockman’s finalized adoption papers to indelibly add Anthony and Chayton to their family. When the boys moved in, Natalie remembers they were on their best behavior - accepting everything, never complaining and eating what was in front of them. Gerald and Natalie remembered acting overly nice too, hovering, and offering anything at all that might make them happy. Today the family is relaxed.
The Brockman’s have settled into their system of discipline, being able to say “no” when necessary, and reminding them of what is considered impolite, and how to be polite. “I am so thrilled that they want to tell us how they feel now, what they like, and what they don’t like, but I guess the thing that really was very telling was seeing them react to our parenting and discipline.” said Natalie. “It didn’t have a negative effect at all, but instead I think that they were grateful that someone was holding them accountable and expecting them to stay within parameters.”
When the Brockmans decided to adopt, their two questions were - are we too old for this and how long will this process take? The answers to these questions were absolutely not, and the time process almost does not matter at all once the adoption is finalized.
“We have been so happy with our boys!” exclaimed Gerald. “We have adjusted to happy and healthy boys, and to see that happen in front of our eyes is truly a blessing! I encourage all to consider a commitment to adoption. It is not perfect, nor smooth, but neither is anything else. The reward far surpasses the commitment. I have peace in knowing that we have certainly altered the course for these two boys. I wish we could alter the path for the more than 67,000 other little souls in our state who truly do not deserve a life without parents who love them.”
“We are so grateful to Sacramento County for recognizing us as Family of the Year,” said Natalie. “Our hope is that our journey can be shared and encourage more families to take the same path.”