Instant family: Southeast Texas couple through adoption, foster care

Walking into the Johnson home in Evadale, Texas – a quiet, sleepy town 25 miles outside of Beaumont – all is calm. For about a second.

Four-year-old Emma comes running out of her bedroom, long red hair streaming behind her.

“Hi! Do you want to meet my baby brother?”

She takes off down the hall to another bedroom, where her brother, Ryan*, naps in his crib. He is Emma’s biological brother and was recently placed into foster care at just 6 weeks old. His twin brother stayed in the hospital for several months, awaiting surgery, but recently joined the Johnson family at home.

Ryan is tiny, born early at 31 weeks. Tara and Greg Johnson were elated to bring him into their family so he could join Emma and his other sister, London, 2.

“We are so thankful we get to care for Ryan and hopefully his brother,” Tara says. “We know he may not stay with us forever but we just try to concentrate on giving him a good, stable home with a lot of love while he’s here.”

The Johnsons certainly have their hands full with energetic Emma and London, who Tara says is “starting to follow suit,” a newborn and two dogs. But they handle the chaos with grace, easily swapping children into each other’s arms, handing out snacks and warming bottles.

Tara and Greg had been married for about five years when they decided it was time to grow their family. They struggled with infertility treatments and started looking into adoption. However, they conceived a baby girl, who they named Emlynn, and stopped the adoption process. But they lost her at 32 weeks.

After grieving the loss, they knew it was time to start pursuing adoption again and went to Buckner. When they were matched with Emma, they just knew she was meant to be their daughter. Emma’s full name is Emmalynne, pronounced exactly the same way as Emlynn.

The first day they met Emma was the day they found out she had a sister, London, who needed to go into foster care.

“We knew we wanted siblings, we just didn’t know it would happen so fast,” Tara says, laughing. “We’re just so thankful they get to stay together.”

Emma’s adoption was finalized in November 2015 and London’s adoption was finalized June 6, 2016.

The girls love to play together, driving their toy Mustang convertible around the yard and swinging on their swing set.

The Johnsons bring the twins for visits with his biological mother and over the past few years, they’ve been able to form a relationship with her. Tara brings her new photos of the kids and updates her on what’s happening in their lives.

“We thought it was going to be really awkward and hard [to have a relationship] but really, Greg talked about how we have to have the attitude to be thankful for her. She chose life for London and for that we have to be grateful because we have London and Emma. It’s something to be grateful for.”

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