Eric and Jackie Arrow waited to go before a judge at the Allegheny County Courthouse as their two soon-to-be sons played with their toy swords and shields. One brother swung and jabbed as the other attempted to fend the wild flings. The lobby of the Allegheny County Courthouse was alive with laughter, joyful tears and colorful bouquets as families from around the county waited to finish the long process of adoption on an aptly named occasion — National Adoption Day.
“You know what we’re going to do today?” asked Eric Arrow of the younger brother, James.
James, 4, paused his make-believe sword game and said: “Talk judge.”
James’ adoptive father hugged him, smiled and nodded approvingly. “That’s right.”
Nearly two years ago, Eric, 48, and his wife, Jackie, 46, made a life-altering decision. The Penn Hills couple started fostering James and his brother, Wadell, 11. Since then, the family has only grown. Today, the Arrows are legal parents to the brothers, have taken in an additional three foster children and are moving to a larger home in Springdale Borough. The decision to expand their family came after the Arrows raised four of their own biological children — one who still lives at home while attending graduate school. In all, the Arrows now have nine people living in a home centered on love, laughter and the importance of family.
The couple always dreamed of fostering dozens of children while the agencies worked to reunite them with their families. But the dream was pushed to the sidelines as they worked to raise their own children, all who recently graduated from college and work full time. While the couple is extremely proud of their adult children, life without the energy of little ones was getting to Eric Arrow, who missed the parent life he’d grown accustomed to over the last 20 years.
“We used to think we’d want a slower life when the kids got off to school,” said Eric Arrow. “But some parts of that were really depressing. All of a sudden, a lot of function was taken out of my life.”
That’s when the couple went to Auberle, a McKeesport-based fostering agency, to learn about the program. The couple admits they had an idealized view of fostering before they began the process.
Read more about this couple’s foster care journey at triblive.com