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Lansing State Journal - March 20, 1970

5 of 6 Hoag Children Adopted

Their Family Is Unique

By Aimee Suhie
State Journal Staff Writer

The Warren G. Hoag family of 5115 W. St. Joseph doesn't think there's anything very unusual about their family.

There a family of six youngsters, three horses and three dogs who have their ups and downs just like every other family.

But the Hoag family is as unique in its history of growing as it can be. For their oldest son, Michael, 19, is the couples only naturally-born son. Their two daughters-Donna, 19 and Linda, 17, and three sons, Mark, 11, and twins matty and Marty, 6-are adopted children.

Adoption can sound like a big and sometimes frightning step for a couple to make - but after talking with Dr. and Mrs. Hoag and their children, the love and respect they have for each other can encourage anyone.

"There are no labels or letters, no distinction in our family as to who is naturally ours and who is adopted," Mrs. Hoag said. And looking at the family album of smiling faces and family togetherness, thats easy to believe.

Newly Married

Dr. and Mrs. Hoag began their family shortly after their marriage when Mrs. Hoag's 18 month old niece came to live with them. Candy lived with the Hoags until she was five and it was during that time that their son Mike was born.

Still wanting to expand the family Mrs. Hoag said they applied to the welfare organization in Virginia where they were then living to begin adoption proceedings.  At that time, she explained, rules were much more stricter for adoption than they are now, the Hoags were considered too old (over 30) to adopt an infant and they were not permanently located in Virginia which also made them "unacceptable".

Dr. Hoag, who holds his D.V.M from Cornell University and served three years in the Army Medical Service, then spent a year at Harvard obtaining his degree in Public Health. After that, the family moved to Maine.

"The first thing we did was to apply to the welfare office," Mrs. Hoag said.  "We asked for an older child, a child who would fit into our family."

It was a year before they heard anything.  Finally the welfare organization asked the Hoags to consider a 4-month old infant who had a heart defect. They wanted him in a home with a strong medical background.

We said 'yes' to Mark (now 11) as long as this did not close the door to adopting older children later," Mrs. Hoag said.

Now Mark "wears the rest of us out," says Dr. Hoag, adding that they have never had to limit his activities since the defect healed so well.

Soon after Mark became part of the family, the couple recieved a letter asking if they had the patience to wait for another child to test the adoption  laws between the Canadian and American government.

Two Little Girls

"Then a telegram arrived telling us there were two little girls, aged 9 and 7, in Canada and would we like to come up to Canada to get aquainted with them," Dr. Hoag said.

The whole family piled into the car and drove up to meet Donna, now 19, and Linda, now 17, who are half-sisters.

"Mark stole the scene with the girls," Mrs. Hoag continued.

Since the girls had been together since Donna was 2 1/2 years old, the Hoags said they didn't feel it would be fair to separate them, and after much waiting and formal red tape, Donna and Linda became Hoags too.

Welfare workers kept in touch with the Hoags periodically and promised them a little red haired girl of two or three. The whole family was very excited about the future addition but when the child's foster parents asked if the rules could be bent just once and they be allowed to keep her, the family was disappointed in its hopes.

Twin Boys

"The welfare workers said they would make it up to us," Mrs. Hoag laughed. "So they called us one day and said, "How would you like twins?"

Soon after that the littel 18 month old matthew and Martin came to brighten up the family with their antics. They had been in separate foster homes since soon after their birth and had never seen each other before.

"Yet when we put them together, it seemed as if they instinctively knew they belonged together," Mrs. Hoag said. "Sometimes they'd sit in their high chairs, exchange glances and do precisely the same thing at the same time."

The children had been in French speaking homes and had to learn English. But that wasn't hard since Donna and Linda each took a twin and "mothered" him.  Marty took his first step for Donna.

Other Children

In the years that ensued, Dr. Hoag became a professor and Michigan State University and Director of the Center for Laboratory Test Animals on campus. The family brought a 13 year old foster child with them from Maine who stayed with them for a time, and took another girl, age 15, who also stayed with them for a while.

Looking back on her years of child rearing, Mrs. Hoag has some advice for couples thinking of adoption.

"You have to feel its going to work before  you adopt a child," she explained. "You may have to sacrifice a bit, but then all parents sacrifice."

She points ot teh relaxing of restrictions now such as those which prevented her and her husband from adopting when they lived in Virginia as a good sign. Where then the authorities would not allow a family with a natural child of their own to adopt another child, now many people feel it is advantageous to have the experience of child-rearing before taking on adoption.

And what will come next for the Hoag family? Says Mrs. Hoag, "I'll wait for grandchildren."

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