A perfect match
The first time the Hefleys met Alivia was at Thomson?s home for Thanksgiving dinner in 2009.
?We made a connection with Alivia right away,? Sonja said. ?In fact, Jon asked me if I was able to let go of her. I was helping her eat, holding her and my aunt knew how much we wanted to have a family.
?She touched our hearts and we fell in love with her.?
After that first encounter, Sonja said Thomson asked her and Jon to think about becoming foster parents, because somewhere down the road, Alivia might be available for adoption.
?We talked about it and felt like (Alivia) is very special and she needed a mom and dad,? Sonja said. ?We knew we could be that for her.?
Jon said he also talked to other people, too.
?We talked to Lane and Linda Dyck and Autumn Chisholm,? Jon said. ?I have the utmost respect for them and they did a lot for us.?
Willing to do whatever
The second time the couple saw Alivia was again at Thomson?s home.
It was Christmas time and Jon and Sonja were ready and willing to begin the foster parent classes so they could spend more time with Alivia.
?The classes were 10 weeks every Thursday evening in Hutchinson,? Sonja said.
As for Jon, anyone who knew him could see how committed he was to little Alivia by agreeing to take the 10-week course.
?Everybody knew I was serious,? he said. Many people would tell him, ?Jon, you must be serious if you are taking off work early to go to your classes.?
The Hefleys said they had to admit their main reason for taking the classes was to spend more time with Alivia.
?The plan was always to reintegrate Alivia back to her birth parents and Linda didn?t want us to get our hopes up,? Sonja said.
Still, they decided they wanted to keep their connection with Alivia, Sonja said, and so they started going to Larned every other weekend.
Until the Hefleys had their foster parent licenses, they could only have day trips with Alivia, and they were excited when they finally were able to do respite care in June.
Respite care, Sonja said, allowed them to have Alivia overnight.
Jon said they did a lot of driving from Hillsboro to Larned so they could see Alivia.
Once in Larned, the three would visit the zoo or park, he said.
The foster classes in Hutch went from January through March 2010, Sonja said, and they received their foster care license in April of that year.
At Thanksgiving 2010, Jon said, they were able to keep Alivia for a couple of days, even though she was still Thomson?s foster child.
On April 10, 2011, the Hefleys became Alivia?s foster parents.
By that time, Jon said Alivia was used to them and used to their visits.
?Linda told us she would look out the window waiting to see if we would be coming and asking if Jon-Sonja would ?come and get me.?
Sonja said ?Jon-Sonja? was Alivia?s name for them.
By the end of June, the Hefleys had signed the adoption papers, which technically meant that Alivia was now their daughter.
One of the final steps, she said, was that Kansas Social Rehabilitation Services needed to complete paperwork before it was finalized in the Marion County District Court. By mid-August, she said, they had met all the legal requirements and District Court Judge Michael Powers proclaimed Alivia?s name be changed to Hefley.
The official adoption date was Sept. 26 when Jon, Sonja and Alivia became a family in the presence of Judge Powers, who also spoke with them about their responsibility as parents.
Throughout the process, and even before, the Hefleys have always known their family and a lot of other people were supporting their every decision.
?We really want to thank the community for encouraging us,? she said, ?because (adoption) was a big step and in the beginning we had our doubts about being too old (to do this).?
Life at home
Sonja said the family has gotten into a good routine now that the adoption is completed.
?Alivia is comfortable and familiar with us and she is just a normal, happy child,? Sonja said.
Jon added that when Alivia was with Sonja?s aunt, their visits involved going to the zoo or constantly being on the go, but now they are more settled in.
?We all just had to jump in and the honeymoon is sure over,? Jon said. ?Now we have to say, ?no,?? admitting he probably spoiled her before.
At 3 years old, he said she is going to do 3-year-old stuff, but is adjusting well.
?She loves to read and she?s not a television kid at all,? he said. ?Alivia is either outdoors or in her playhouse.?
For Sonja and Jon, they realize their daughter is only going to be young once and they want her to enjoy her childhood.
Even so, they both want to make sure she has certain responsibilities and one of those is feeding Millie, their Lhasa Apso mix, Sonja said.
?Alivia is also in HeadStart and loves it,? she said, ?and she enjoys getting to ride the bus, too.?
When it comes to birthdays, the Hefleys plan to make sure Alivia celebrates two of them.
?Her adoption day (Sept. 26) is like a re-birthday to us and very much as important as her (belly button) birthday on Dec. 21,? Sonja said.
After a long, difficult struggle to have biological children, the Hefleys said they know things happen for a reason and are not only blessed to have Alivia, but so many other people in their lives as well.
One person who will continue to be in Alivia?s life, Sonja said, is her aunt.
?We are very happy that my aunt will continue to be a part of our daughter?s life. Alivia considers her Grandma Linda.?
If it wasn?t for Thomson, Jon and Sonja said they both agree that they wouldn?t have become foster parents.
?We just figured someone is pushing us to do this,? Jon said. ?This was too out of the ordinary and we know God had a plan for us.?