Brooklyn Family Found Adopting Teen Costly, Challenging and, Ultimately, Joyous

With help from a New York City nonprofit, Joanne and Chris Wright are settling into life with their son

When Joanne Wright decided to adopt a teenage boy with her husband, Chris, she had zero qualms. “Chris had been an uncle. I’d been an aunt forever. We had life experience,” she says. “I thought we were going to rock it.”

She felt even more optimistic the first time she saw her future son, Mike, in an online video. He was 13 years old, living in a group home in Rochester, N.Y., and “absolutely adorable.”

“There was a sense of, ‘We have to go get him,’” Mrs. ere surprised not just

by the emotional challenges, but the financial issues that can accompany adopting a teen, ranging from time taken off work to the cost of private-school tuition for a student with special needs.

It has been tougher than expected, Mrs. Wright says. “But if you have the heart to do this, there is support,” she says.

Last week, I visited the Wrights in their small, brick row house in Marine Park, Brooklyn. Mr. and Mrs. Wright served chocolate-chip cake and suggested I chat with Mike, now a charmingly self-aware 17-year-old, at the dining-room table while they listened to Sinatra in the living room.

Mike described how, after the state took him from his birth family at age 8, he lived in three different foster homes.

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