Actress Jen Lilley is known mostly for her role on “Days of Our Lives” and as a Hallmark Channel actress, but the 34-year-old is also a fierce foster care and adoption advocate.
Lilley and husband Jason Wayne became foster parents in 2016, opening their hearts and home up to a baby boy.
The couple would spend the next two years riding the roller coaster that is foster care, wondering what the legal fate of their foster son would be.
“The goal of foster care is to reunite the children with their birth families, but sometimes that’s not a safe option for the children,” Lilley told People. “And while it’s easy to sit in the seat of judgment, the truth is the birth families who can’t pull it together are hurting and broken, and need as much love and affection as the children they abused or neglected.”
In their foster son’s case, parental rights were terminated and the toddler was legally up for adoption. On June 10, Lilley made the announcement that the boy, 2-and-a-half-year-old Kayden, had been officially adopted into her family.
“During the hearing, when the judge said Kayden was declared to be our legal ‘child, and is further said to be a member of the Wayne family with all the rights and responsibilities attached thereto,’ I almost lost it,” Lilley said. “All I could manage was a little half giggle/half sob, saying, ‘Thank you.’”
The family celebrated with an adoption party, a milestone event that Kayden, though too young to really understand what has happened, can look back on when he is older.
“Our theme was ‘We Found Our Missing Piece’ because Kayden loves puzzles and has always been exceptionally gifted at putting the pieces in order, and he fits right into our family,” Lilley said.
She added that the date of Kayden’s adoption was particularly sentimental for her family for another reason.
“It was a particularly touching date for me, because June 10 is my parents’ wedding anniversary, and they got the best present ever for their 41st!” she gushed.
On Instagram, Lilley shared more of her feelings regarding the long-awaited adoption.
“Kayden stole our hearts on day one,” she wrote, “and spent 984 emotional and uncertain, but love filled days in fostercare, before officially becoming a member of our family, our legacy, and our inheritance forever.”
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I’m waiting to get all the oodles of pics from our #adoptionday to share with you, my #onlinecommunity who has walked with us and continues to stand with us on our #fostercare journey. This little video is courtesy of my bff @selahvictor, with an amazing cake saying “we found our missing piece” because Kayden loves puzzles by @dreaswondercakes, and in the picture perfect party setting by @thecoopla! There are so many more #gotchaday posts to come but I’m dying to share a little bit of the overwhelming joy and love we experienced yesterday. Most important day of our lives thus far, and even sweeter as my parents 41st anniversary. ❤️❤️❤️ Kayden stole our hearts on day one, and spent 984 emotional and uncertain, but love filled days in fostercare, before officially becoming a member of our family, our legacy, and our inheritance forever. ??? #bestdayever #adopt #getattached #childrenfirst
“We also made a video message for Kayden that he can watch over and over again, especially when he’s older, telling him how much we love him and value him and are so grateful he’s in our family, complete with photos and video footage of him since he first arrived in our home almost three years ago as an infant,” Lilley said.
Lilley and her husband are also foster parents to a 14-month-old toddler, who is Kayden’s biological half-brother, and are expecting a baby girl in August, People reported in a March interview.
While raising three kids under 3 may be a daunting task, Lilley and her husband are excited for their full, joy-filled home.
“We are so over the moon that we get to call Kayden our own,” Lilley said. “We’ve loved him from the moment he entered our home and we’ve treated him as our own son since day one, but to have it be official is overwhelmingly wonderful.”
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