The Augustin family

Couple with ‘heart for helping kids in need’ creates family for two sibling groups

Macungie, Pennsylvania Thursday October 31, 2019

Doug and Rebecca Augustin “definitely have a heart for helping kids in need.”

The couple, who live in Macungie, Pennsylvania, have adopted two sets of siblings through Diakon Adoption & Foster Care, first Joey and Addy and then Grace and Natalie.

“We felt as if God was calling us to do this. It hasn’t always been easy, but we see God there at every step,” Rebecca says as she surveys their yard, the children playing on a trampoline and monkey bars and in a sandbox; nearby is a fort the children are helping their dad to build.

When Doug and Rebecca attended a birthday party at the home of a family member who was providing foster care, the event attended by a number of children in foster children, “My husband and I saw kids with a need for families,” she continues. “We were very impacted by their need to be loved and cared for.”

A friend referred them to Diakon Adoption & Foster Care and the couple participated in the program’s six-week training. “Hearing the stats of how many kids were in foster care spurred us on through the years,” says Rebecca.

They fostered a baby for a few months until the child was returned to the birth family.

Six years ago, now-10-year-old Addy and her 7-year-old brother, Joey, arrived. “Foster care had been traumatic for them,” Rebecca recalls. Joey was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum shortly after he joined the family.

Natalie, now 6, and her 5-year-old sister, Grace, who had been in emergency care, arrived three and a half years ago. Max, a rescued cock-a-poo, completes the family portrait.

The girls are enrolled in a Christian academy, while Joey attends class at a nearby school district.

“Addy and Joey were easy on the legal side,” notes Rebecca. “With Grace and Natalie, it was two and a half years of back and forth. We felt even though it was hard for us, we were in a place where, as much as it cost us emotionally, we wanted them in a safe place.”

Doug and Rebecca agree Addy is quiet and nurturing, a natural caregiver. “But they all watch out for Joey,” says Doug. “They all have different relationships with him. Addy watches out for him a lot. Grace is his little buddy. Natalie and Joey play quite a bit.”

In fact, he continues with a laugh, “Natalie is a go-getter. Everything is fast,” even if that means tripping over the open dishwasher door in her haste.

When Joey became upset at Vacation Bible School, “I watched as Natalie just came up behind him and hugged him. I’d never seen her do that before. Grace is such a cutie, fully the baby of the family,” Rebecca says. “She’s outgoing and incredibly social,” Doug adds. 

“Joey, though, is the life of the party,” he continues. “He thinks outside of the box because he sees things differently,” adds Rebecca. “He makes things fun—he makes up games they play at school.”

Joey especially cemented his life-of-the-party status at the wedding of Rebecca’s cousin, when people made a circle around him as he danced.

“They are wonderful people to work with. Rebecca and Doug clearly make family a priority.”

In fact, all the children love music and swimming. The girls enjoy dance lessons, while Joey loves to work with tools and drum.

“They really get along together, they blend very well,” Rebecca says. “They have blended together as brother and sisters.”

The couple liked adopting sibling groups because, she adds, “They have someone with them to go through the process. They will always have someone they are biologically connected to.” And, in the case of Joey, “Addy had been the only stable thing in his life” before they came to the Augustins.

Their emphasis dovetails well with the pressing need for families for sibling groups.

A teacher, Rebecca took maternity leave for both sets of siblings; Doug is a self-employed electrician.

The couple helps to maintain the children’s contact with their birth families, such as visits to attend birthday parties for their half-siblings.

Because the children were young when they entered foster care, Rebecca serves as the “holder of memories.”

“They look to me to remember the names of pets, foster parents, biological parents and special things from their visits—to be able to describe to them and, at times, to reassure them that their biological parents loved them.”

The couple keeps its certification to foster up-to-date and would be open to doing short-term and emergency care in the future. “We’ve encouraged adults to do this. A lot of people are scared and think they couldn’t do it.”

“They are a wonderful family,” says Diakon caseworker Megan Miller, one of the caseworkers who handled the adoption of Grace and Natalie. “They are wonderful people to work with. Rebecca and Doug clearly make family a priority.”

“We have dinner together every night, go to the local high school football games and do a lot of things together,” says Rebecca. “We were happy working with Diakon and became close with some of the social workers.”

They especially enjoy Diakon Adoption & Foster Care’s “family night” each spring, joining with other families to attend a Reading Phillies game.

“There are some hard things in the process, but we feel we were supported and heard by Diakon and have recommended them,” Rebecca says as the family gathers this day for another outing, a perfect way to spend the afternoon—together.

The Augustin children at play and helping to build the new fort. 

 

 

 

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