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The Student News Website of Francis Howell North High School.

FHNtoday.com

The Student News Website of Francis Howell North High School.

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Ally, Madi and Maggie Were Adopted by the Schaffrin Family and Reflect on a Decade of Love

Ally%2C+Madi+and+Maggie+stand+together+with+their+mother+Donna+after+10+years+of+living+together.
Credit to Photo Submitted
Ally, Madi and Maggie stand together with their mother Donna after 10 years of living together.

Twelve years ago the Schaffrin’s thought their family was complete with Alyssa, Kelsey, Abby, Zack and Mallory each having their own space and the family having a set routine. Mere months later though, the number of children in the Schaffrin household would grow by three and the routines they were used to had to adapt.

“It sounds crazy, that it’s only been 10 years, but really it’s like I’ve known them for longer than that,” Alyssa said. “I mean, the twins are turning 14 in January and I’ve known them since they were 8 months old. So, it feels longer than this small part of my life. Honestly, I forget when I see pictures when it’s just the five of us. It’s almost weird to see pictures of pre-them being part of our family. Because I can’t picture it.”

The Schaffrins brought in three girls Ally, who was 4-years-old, and twins Madi and Maggie who were 15 months old. The family had known the three girls from the restaurant Magpie’s, where Donna and her daughter Alyssa Divjak, formerly Schaffrin, worked.

“I worked at a restaurant on Main Street and they lived nearby and would come into the restaurant pretty often with their parents,” Donna said. “And the state took them away from their parents who had a problem with drugs.”

The biological mother of Ally, Madi and Maggie had asked Donna to take the girls in for 30 days while she went to rehab and Donna did. Donna and her family babysat the girls before and loved seeing them. However, the mother did not go to rehab so Donna and her family started fostering the girls and eventually adopted them two years later on July 19, 2013.

“I thought adopting the girls would be chaos because I already had five kids,” Donna said. “The youngest was about 13 [years old] when we first took them in. And so, it was three new babies in the house. It was a little bit crazy. But I also knew they needed a home and we just had to do it.”

Kelsey Schaffrin was 14 and a freshman at FHN when they started fostering. It took her some time to get used to having the three new girls in the house but has loved them ever since.

“It took time to adjust to having babies in the house because we were all older,” Kelsey said. “So, starting completely over with babies, the world revolved around them, in a good way, but they needed full-time attention and care.”

Although Kelsey and the rest of her family didn’t see the girls very much before fostering them, they grew very close. And when they did foster, and eventually adopt the girls, they only grew closer.

“They were the cutest little babies,” Kelsey said. “They used to be so sweet and they were so cute and Ally was my little mini-me. Ally clung to my hip like no other. She was my baby for sure. I didn’t love her more, but it was close.”

Now, Kelsey, Alyssa and the rest of their family come around Donna’s house as much as they can. They enjoy playing games with Ally, Madi and Maggie and going to their different sports games. Kelsey even coached the twins’ volleyball team for a little while.

“My favorite thing to do was actually coaching them,” Kelsey said. “I got to coach their volleyball team. It was really good, quality time with them and then just teaching them how to play volleyball in general.”

While being close, the three also think very similarly about how their life would have been if they had not been adopted. They all believe that they have more opportunities and have a better life than they would have had.

“It’s better to have been adopted because I get a lot more opportunities to do things,” Ally, a freshman at North, said. “And I was adopted by a better family than what my family was. It’s more safe.”

Ally and her sisters were very young when they were taken out of their biological mother’s custody and thus they don’t remember much about that time. Because of that, Donna has always been “Mom” to them and they view their non-biological siblings as regular siblings. Those siblings also think of them the same way and see no difference.

“I feel like I can always be there when they need me,” Kelsey said. “And I hope they know that they can always call me and look up to me if they don’t feel comfortable talking to my mom about something or they need help coming to me as more of a sister-figure rather than a parent-figure.”

When the Schaffrin family looks back on the adoption, they all believe and know that this decision was the right one and they wouldn’t change it.

“I was really excited about the adoption, it was the best thing for our family,” Kelsey said. “We had had them so long that I couldn’t imagine a life without them at that point.”

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