When Adam Gress thinks about the upcoming Father’s Day, he is struck with emotion – gratitude – for the journey that has led him to fatherhood.  “We’ve been down such a road to get here, and I’m ready to just take it all in,” said Adam about being a father. 

In March, Adam and his wife, Andrea, adopted three brothers – Travis, 5, Ethan, 4, and Derek, 3 – after fostering them for two years.

The couple’s journey to becoming a family began almost a decade ago when Adam and Andrea tried conceiving their own. But through countless attempts with in vitro fertilization and other fertility methods, it became apparent the Gress family would be built another way. 

Through the Pinehaven Youth and Family Services Inc., Adam and Andrea became licensed for foster care and adoption. The organization then presented the Gresses with a foster care opportunity, which connected the couple with their sons. 

After months of paperwork, certification and home inspections, Adam and Andrea welcomed Travis, Ethan and Derek at 3, 2 and 10 months old, respectively, in March 2017.

“I knew in the first minute I saw them, I fell in love and was drawn to them,” Andrea said. “We were all heartbroken and with our own struggles, yet maybe this was the perfect match. We were all meant to be together.”

The Gresses quickly adjusted as a family of five.

“It was like the movie, ‘Instant Family,’” Adam said. “When we saw that, we laughed because we could relate so well.”

The boys were Adam and Andrea’s first placement.

Over the next two years, the Gresses would work with the birth parents and foster care organization to create a path towards adoption. 

“That whole first year was full of unknowns,” Andrea said. “We couldn’t protect ourselves from being heartbroken, but it was tougher on the kids and we needed to be present and parents for them.”

When the birth mother decided to move forward with the adoption and give full rights to the Gresses, a burden was lifted from Adam and Andrea. 

After two full years as foster parents, Adam and Andrea could call Travis, Ethan and Derek their sons. 

“This is something we wanted for so long,” Adam said.

Since then, every holiday, birthday celebration and even day-to-day tasks are blissful.

“Our life has taken a complete 180,” Adam said.

Andrea agreed.

“What used to be days full of such sadness and loneliness are now full of joy,” she said. 

Both Adam and Andrea adjusted their work schedules to be present for their children. Adam works weekend shifts so he is home with the sons four days a week, and Andrea changed her hours to work three evenings a week.

Family and friends have also helped the Gresses transition into parenthood and create stability for the boys.

The children found comfort in attending the Learning Tree Development Center, and they always look forward to tractor and horseback rides at Andrea’s parents’ home. 

Likewise, Adam’s parents moved from Fargo, N.D., to be closer to their grandchildren.

“We dove into this head first on the deep end,” Andrea said. “Our families have been such a great support system.”

In two years’ time, Adam and Andrea have watched their sons go through diapers, car seats and toys. They have been smitten as the boys play together and find the greatest excitement from simple things. 

“Like a rock as a gift. … It’s so much fun to see how the smallest things bring them so much joy,” Adam said. “They have taught us to enjoy the little things.”

Adam’s favorite time spent with his sons is during their bedtime routine, while Andrea likes crafting and baking with them.

Travis, Ethan and Derek all agreed their favorite thing to do as a family is riding in the speed boat or other water activities. 

With every passing day, the Gresses watch their sons develop into themselves. Travis is becoming a kind, considerate individual, as Ethan is always happy and fascinated with everything; Derek is the family’s clown.

“And, they’re all very competitive,” Andrea said. “Derek, especially, tries to keep up with his older brothers.”

When the Gresses think about the journey that has led them to present day, they are appreciative of the opportunity fostering provided and look forward to the many more milestones they will experience as a family. 

“It’s been tougher than most for us to start a family,” Adam said. “But, honestly, this is better than we ever imagined. We are truly blessed.”

Andrea agreed.

“This journey has been so rewarding,” she said. “The boys have changed our lives just as much as we’ve changed theirs.”