Posted 4/26/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Shellann and Ken Munson of Ray are quite familiar with the adoption process.
On April 19, they finalized the adoption of their third child, Mykah.
“She’s such a good baby,” Shellann said.
Besides having three adopted children, Shellann is also adopted herself. Her parents David and Claudia Rust adopted Shellann and her sister.
Her parents, she said, always spoke openly of their children being adopted and never treated it as anything to hide.
Consequently, she grew up with a very positive outlook of adoption. She and her husband are unable to have children of their own, but Shellann said she always wanted to adopt children, either way.
Their first adoption was from Dallas, Texas. The Munsons picked up Jacob, who is now about to turn six, at the hospital. Due to the laws in Texas, they could go anywhere in Texas with him, but could not take him out-of-state for two weeks.
That was just one of the last hurdles of the entire process.
Before that, there are weeks of background checks, financial examinations, psychological evaluations, and dozens of home visits.
Ken said the social workers came around the house so much, it became almost like a friend who popped in from time to time to visit and play with their kids.
“They’re very thorough,” Ken said.
Once out of Texas the couple still needed approval from the state of North Dakota to bring the child into the state.
“It’s very particular to come into North Dakota” with a child for adoption, Shellann said.
Their second adoption, Eli, was from San Diego, Calif., and the laws required them to go through the entire background process over again as if they had never done it before. At least by that point they were familiar with all the requirements.
But since Eli, who is now three years old, was from a different state, there were different laws to navigate to bring him home.
In California, the law allows a mother who signs away her rights to revoke those rights within 30 days. This put a bit of stress on that first month.
“So we could have come home for a month, and then she could change her mind,” Shellann said.
When they got the call the mother was in labor, it was four in the morning. Shellann flew out right away, and Ken, with Jacob in tow, came out the following day.
California law is more flexible about taking the child out of the state, so they were only there two weeks. But they still had to get permission from the state of North Dakota to bring him home.
They were going to meet Shellann’s parents in Billings, Mont., and stay in a trailer while they waited for the state’s approval to bring Eli into North Dakota.
Fortunately permission came through on the way back from California, so they stayed only one night in Billings before bringing him home to Ray.
Their most recent adoption was a lot easier. Besides their wealth of experience with the adoption process, Mykah was adopted from a mother in Birmingham, Ala., where the requirements are a lot easier.
They also had the help of a lawyer there who was very helpful in facilitating the adoption.
“He’s just a really great guy with complete love for adoption,” Ken said.
They got the call that the mother was in labor at 10 a.m. one morning about three months ago. The birth was two weeks early, but they were on a plane to Alabama by 1 p.m.
In that case they were able to get a hospital room and be with their daughter.
“We got that experience with her,” Shellann said.
Just as her parents were open about her and her sister’s adoption, Shellann is the same way with her children.
She said she’s often asked many questions about adoptions and enjoys answering questions about it. She has pictures of her children with their biological parents, and she met her own biological mother and siblings.
Shellann still keeps in touch with her siblings. Her biological mother passed away about two weeks after they met.
She said the best thing a family with adopted children can do is to celebrate their adoptions openly.
“Always be open about it. Talk with others who have done it, and make it a positive experience.” Shellann said.