They Knew Life Would Be Better With Kids in the House Thursday, May 1, 2014 Page Image Page Content This story was first posted on ProvidenceJournal.com on April 5, 2014. It is written by Bob Kerr. You may also view a video of this story on Turnto10.com. The house in North Smithfield was quiet, too quiet. Sure, it was nice to be able to go out to eat more often, take in a movie. But things were different when they came home, and Michael and Leslie Forget didn’t much care for it.“This house was always full of people coming and going,” said Leslie.But their son, Stephen, who’s 25, and daughter, Stephanie, 21, grew up and moved out, as sons and daughters will.“Empty nest,” said Michael.So they filled it up again. And then some. Now, there are six Forget children. Stephen and Stephanie have two new brothers and two new sisters.“It’s going to be boyfriends, girlfriends, proms, college all over again,” said Leslie.“We’re going to need a bigger house,” said Michael.To walk into a house and see this kind of generous spirit — and to meet four kids embracing a new and priceless stability — does wonders for a sense of what matters.The Forgets met at North Smithfield High School and have been together for 30 years. She is a school bus driver and dispatcher. He was a truck driver for more than 20 years but recently moved to an office job to be able to spend more time with his newly expanded family.Four years ago, when the silence in the house was just too much, they became foster parents through Boys Town New England. They thought they could give kids a home while the kids were away from their parents.The Forgets weren’t thinking about adoption. They were just thinking about opening up their home to kids who were in a tough situation.Then, in October 2011, came brothers Darran and Jonathan. They had been living in residential care with Boys Town when they moved to foster care with the Forgets. Their sisters, Shawna and Savannah, were placed in a different foster home through a different agency. It is one of the hard, cruel realities of family breakdown and foster care that brothers and sisters are often split up.In March 2012, the foster parents with whom the sisters lived could no longer take care of them. Leslie and Michael were asked if they would take the girls and bring the four children together.“We had a family talk,” said Michael.That meant Leslie, Michael, Stephen, Stephanie, Darran and Jonathan sat down together to discuss the possibility of the sisters moving in. Everyone would have to play a part if it were to work.It worked. The sisters came to North Smithfield.“It’s amazing how the four of them care for each other,” said Leslie.Still, adoption was not in the plan, not right away. The Forgets were very open with the kids about that.Then the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) started talking about the need for permanence, for “forever” families. But DCYF also expressed doubts that all four siblings could be placed in the same adoptive home.The Forgets met with DCYF. There was discussion of putting the brothers and sisters in the adoption registry.That’s when Michael Forget put an end to all the uncertainty that four kids had been living with for too long.“I said, ‘They’re not leaving.’”The darnedest thing had happened.“We fell in love,” said Leslie.They fell in love with four kids who filled the house on Colerick Street with all that young energy and youthful noise that they had been missing.There was another family meeting.“We asked if they wanted us to be their forever family,” said Michael.The kids approved.“We were too close to break up,” said Leslie.Still, there were details to be worked out. There was Family Court, and the children’s biological parents, who wanted a completely open adoption with unrestricted access to the children.Leslie said she and her husband think it is in the kids’ best interests to maintain some contact with their biological parents. But there had to be limits.An agreement was worked out. There will be two supervised visits a year.The adoption became official on Jan. 31. A picture of the family with Family Court Judge Laureen D’Ambra sits on a table in the living room.They had a lot of help to make it all happen, said Leslie. Matt Gunnip, their DCYF social worker, and Stephanie Razmini, a consultant from Boys Town, came up big in making the process as smooth as possible.And they have help moving forward. Leslie’s mother, Kathryn Lemire, gets the kids to their doctor and dentist appointments. And a cousin, Henry Lavimodiere, who lives with the Forgets, makes sure the kids make it to the school bus.Now, Darran and Jonathan, both 10, put in a lot of time with Legos after school and offer brief reviews on their new life with the Forgets:Darran: “I’m happy.”Jonathan: “Happy.”Savannah, who’s 7, says it’s all “really good.”“I like it,” said Shawna, who’s 11. “I like the things they like to do with us. When we first came here, I knew we weren’t going home. I thought we’d be split up.”But they’re not split up. They’re together, as brothers and sisters should be. They’re together because two hard-working people decided life is a whole lot richer with kids in the house. Learn more about being a Foster Parent and call Boys Town New England at 401-845-2250.