North Smithfield family chosen to speak at National Adoption Day event

North Smithfield family chosen to speak at National Adoption Day event

PROVIDENCE - Sisters Sarah and Stephanie were 12 and 14 when they found their forever home with Terry and Andy Harvey in 2001. Everyone admits that it wasn't always easy for the parents and the two teenage girls to understand one another, and the transition had more than a few bumps.

"Everyone asks if it was hard," said Andy to a crowd gathered at the Rhode Island Statehouse on Nov. 20. "Let's just say I used to have hair."

The sisters nonetheless shared many laughs and good years with the couple before eventually moving out to begin independent lives of their own. Stephanie, 27, now works as a membership coordinator for Sam's Club. The grateful mother of a newborn baby is engaged to be married. Sarah, now 25, also lives on her own in Woonsocket and works as a beauty department manager for CVS Pharmacy. Soon, she'll be the maid of honor in her sister's wedding.

In 2009, the Harveys again opened their home, this time to 1- and 5-year-old brothers Robby and Gary. The brothers are now in kindergarten and 4th grade, attending North Smithfield public schools. They play sports and enjoy being outdoors, spy games and all the other things you might expect from young boys.

The Harveys' story, and their willingness to keep not one, but two sets of siblings together through the adoption process, put the family at the top of the list when Adoption Rhode Island began to seek out speakers for their annual Statehouse celebration.

"When we were looking at everyone who has adopted over the years, they've really been a success story," said Bridget Gieseke, development associate for Adopt RI. "They have two older daughters who are now flourishing, and they have kind of exemplified what it means to open your home and become a family."

This year's event kicked off the organization's 30th anniversary, and the Harveys were one of just two families in the state asked to speak.

"The Harveys understand the importance of siblings sharing their childhood and having the opportunity to grow up in the same family," a flyer promoting the celebration explained.

Terry, the owner of Travel with Terry at Slatersville Plaza, spoke after her husband, followed by daughter Stephanie. Sarah had not planned to speak but was moved to share her story, and became choked up trying to explain what it meant to her to know she would always have a place to call home.

The adoption celebration is held every November as part of National Adoption Month. The event also marked the unveiling of the 9th annual Heart Gallery, an exhibit of portraits of children in need of permanent families, put together with the help of several Rhode Island small businesses and photographers. "The Harveys are an inspiration for all people who are considering adoption," said Gieseke. "We hope that their example will give others the courage to reach out to a child in state care looking for a family to call their own."

Editor's note: Terry Harvey is the sister of Valley Breeze writer Sandy Seoane.