If you follow Sioux Falls politics, you’re likely familiar with Pat Starr, who sits on the Sioux Falls City Council. But you might be less familiar with his family, which recently adopted their third child. Pat and Emily Starr were married in 1989.
“I mean, you always think that you’re going to have your own children, and that’s what your life’s going to do,” Emily Starr said.
And that’s what would eventually happen… in its own unique way.
“We looked at medical reasons why we weren’t able to conceive, nobody could tell us why, and one day we just looked at each other and said, there’s plenty of kids out there that need the love and the nurturing, and it doesn’t matter how they come to our family as long as they come to our family,” Emily Starr said. “And so I don’t think I could love any of my children any more if they, if I had actually conceived them. I really don’t.”
“You know for people who were never going to have children or weren’t able to have children, to go from none to three kids, it’s really a life-changing experience,” Pat Starr said.
In 2002 they adopted the now-18-year-old Avery. Then in 2007 they adopted the now-12-year-old Angela. Finally, this year they adopted 8-year-old Alinia. Avery studies at South Dakota State University, Angela is at O’Gorman Junior High School in Sioux Falls, and Alinia is at St. Lambert Elementary in Sioux Falls.
“It’s just how we built a family,” Pat Starr said. “It’s one of thousands or hundreds of thousands of stories of how families come together, and it just always boils down to love and spending time with your kids and your family.”
For the unfamiliar, adoption can prompt curiosity.
“My friends ask me a lot about it, but I don’t really think about it that often,” Avery Starr said. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”
“Being adopted, how I think of it is you get to feel like, you understand family a lot, and how you’re, how you love your family and you respect your family a lot,” Angela Starr said. “‘Cause you understand, now I’m at the age where I understand, I was given to my mom and dad, because I could not have been in a safe place, safe environment.”
But, she says, now things are different.
“Now with them I’m in an amazing environment where I couldn’t ask for any better,” Angela Starr said.
Adoption can mean everything to a child. But they’re not the only beneficiaries.
“The love that we show our children’s nothing compared to what they show us,” Pat Starr said.
“I feel so blessed, I feel so lucky, anything that I think that I’m giving to them, they’re giving back to me tenfold,” Emily Starr said.
The prospect of adopting only one child can be daunting. Pat suggests an opportunity that is temporary.
“What I always recommend to people, and there’s such a need for it as well, is … to take a look at being respite care,” Pat Starr said.
“We get emails, at least an email a week, if not an email a day, of children that are out there that need the foster care,” Emily Starr said. “And it may be on a very temporary basis, it may be a more permanent basis, or maybe pre-adoption basis.”
The Starrs are now a quintet. And the way they answer the question of whether or not they’re done adopting highlights how they’ve approached their own unique path to becoming this family.
“I’m done,” Pat Starr said. “Are we done?”
“We think we’re done, but it’s one of those things if the opportunity was correct, I really do feel, I mean honestly, I think all of the process I feel God has kind of led us through it, and so we just trust him,” Emily Starr said.