November is National Adoption Month
WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI (Submitted to OnFocus) – Five and a half years ago, when Dawn Brostowitz and her husband Mike considered foster care as a way to fulfill their dream of having a third child, they never expected their family of four to become a family of eight overnight.
“We joke that he’s the heart of the operation and I’m the brains,” Dawn said. “That’s why the social worker called him first.
After Mike’s initial conversation, he called Dawn at Aspirus Riverview Hospital, where she works as Director of Nursing – Medical/Surgical & ICU. He asked if she was sitting down. The county had a sibling group of four who needed a forever home.
“I immediately told my assistant, ‘You’ll never believe this phone call,’” Dawn said. “And she said, ‘If it’s meant to be, it will be.’ I knew she was right and decided to trust the process.”
That kind of team support and encouragement is one of the positives Dawn has experienced in her 19 years at Aspirus. The staff treat each other like family. Aspirus’ core value of collaboration is something they embrace at work and in each other’s personal lives. Dawn shares that once the adoption was underway, the staff threw her a “foster care” shower, where she received clothing, basic essentials and toys to help transition the kids to their new life.
“Working together to solve problems and give back brings all of us a lot of joy, which is another Aspirus core value,” Dawn said. “Not many places make joy a priority. That’s awesome at work, but also at home. Joy and fun are important for my family. We joke around. Everyone teases. My kids have wit like you wouldn’t believe.”
The Brostowitzs officially adopted the four siblings, Bruce, Autumn, Annissa and Atlantis, on June 23, 2017. About four years ago, the family purchased a small farm that all six children, including biological sons Austin and Leo, help manage, selling asparagus and blueberries to the community and splitting the profits.
“The business keeps them busy with something productive when they’re not in sports,” Dawn said.
Now ages ten to 18, the six children are in sports in two different schools in two different school districts. Dawn said she’s grateful her job at Aspirus is flexible so that she can help Mike, who runs a cranberry marsh, and the grandparents get everyone where they need to be, when they need to be there. Watching her kids excel athletically is another source of joy.
“It’s amazing to see how far our adopted kids have come,” Dawn said. “They arrived at our house with no goals for the future.”
Now, they have plans. One daughter aspires to be a princess. The other, a teacher. This year, Bruce and Austin started college – Bruce to pursue business, and Austin, nursing. She’s especially humbled by the life Bruce is making for himself that he otherwise may not have had.
“There are so many kids in foster care who need someone to be there for them,” Dawn said. “Mike and I have always had a motto to treat every child the same. Just love them.”
And love them, they have, fostering even more children since adopting the four siblings. At one point, the Brostowitzs had 11 kids in their three-bedroom house, which Dawn admits was absolutely crazy. Beyond short-term fostering, being their usual family of eight comes with challenges, too.
When asked how she manages the ups and downs while working fulltime and raising six busy kids, Dawn replied: “Nothing about what we did should have been easy. But my kids make it easy. They walked into the house, and I fell in love.”
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