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Vaughn family shares experiences with adult adoption - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Montana family shares experiences with adult adoption

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The McGovern family (courtesy photo) The McGovern family (courtesy photo)
Tina at her adoption shower, themed "The Perfect Fit". (MTN News photo) Tina at her adoption shower, themed "The Perfect Fit". (MTN News photo)
The couple says after completing the process, they now hope those looking to adopt an adult with a disability in the future wont feel alone. (MTN News photo) The couple says after completing the process, they now hope those looking to adopt an adult with a disability in the future wont feel alone. (MTN News photo)
VAUGHN -

A couple from Vaughn always thought about adopting children, even if they had kids of their own -- and now, those dreams have come true.

MTN News spoke with the McGovern family one week after they adopted 23-year-old Tina. It wasn't until after Brittany and Brandin McGovern found out they weren't able to have biological children that their future became crystal clear.

"For a period of time we were just like, 'Ok it'll be the two of us,'" said Brittany.

Then, Brittany became Tina's group home manager in 2012 at Quality Life Concepts in Great Falls and eventually became Tina's advocate.

"And then immediately when Tina started spending time with our family, she fit our family so well we're like, 'This is what's supposed to happen, we're not supposed to have biologically our own kids, we're supposed to have Tina,'" said Brittany. 

The McGoverns said Tina, who is disabled, became their daughter over the next two years, growing closer to friends and family.

"The more time goes on, the closer we get, and for the past two years Tina's been very involved in our family. You know family vacations, Colorado trips and every holiday, every birthday, we just fit like a family," said Brittany.

The family decided to make Tina's transition official with adoption.

"We gave her the option, we will either be Brittany and Brandin or we will be mom and dad and it was immediate, "You're mommy and daddy,'" said Brittany.

"Eventually it was just logistics and paperwork just to get it to pass through, because whether they would have accepted it in the state or not it wouldn't have really changed much," said Brandin.

But, the couple said the process leading up to adoption day was more complicated than they first thought.

"We used the J.A.G. on base. He did what he could. We used Military One Source. We've called and talked to seven or eight different attorneys," said the couple.

They said attorneys could not find any cases involving the adoption of an adult with a disability in Cascade County. The lack of cases turned out to be statewide. Brandin said they found very few resources for Tina's adoption.

"Throughout, the gambit of Montana that I've spoke to on the phone or anything has told me that this is such a rarity between an adult adoption, but somebody that's not a family member, and then on top of that with a disability, and keeping her as her own guardian on top of it. It was just like we just kept stacking the 'never happened,'" said Brandin.

After finding the right attorney, the family was able to move along with the adoption process. Surrounded by family and friends, Tina Leigh officially became a part of the McGovern family.

Brandin and Brittany said after completing the process, they now hope those looking to adopt an adult with a disability in the future won't feel alone.

"Now they can no longer say 'that's never happened before', we just did it, and you know if someone else wants to adopt with a disability or even just an adult, it should be easier,' said Brittany.

"This is possible. This is something that should happen. I mean, how many children and how many adults with disabilities in our nation do we have, not just that, but maybe just Montana that are viable candidates for adoption and that should be adopted," said Brandin. 

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