New English teacher adopts three children despite difficult adoption process

English teacher Coral Brignoni adopted the youngest girl first, and then the two boys after


By Morgan Gurwell

All dressed in matching Chiefs attire, English teacher Coral Brignoni alongside her husband Greg Burnett sit on the front porch of their home on Sunday, Oct. 8 with their newly adopted sons and daughter.

Abby Layton, JagWire A&E editor

English teacher Coral Brignoni stepped out of her car in front of a foster home in Topeka on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. She was there to pick up her two-year old-daughter, Janiya, whom she had just adopted. It had been just 10 short days since Brignoni had found out about the little girl. On that day, she took her home.

Two weeks later, Brignoni and her husband, Greg Burnett, still waited for Janiya’s two older brothers Demarius and Christopher. It wouldn’t be until Saturday, Sept. 16 that the three siblings would finally be together again.

In March of 2017, Brignoni and Burnett first considered fostering through the state. They hoped this would eventually lead to an adoption of a child they would be fostering.

“My husband and I, we have actually wanted to adopt for many years,” Brignoni said. “In March we started a foster class, [because] at the time that was one of the only ways we could successfully adopt without going through a private agency.”

They were not considering a private adoption agency because of the high cost to hire one. According to Brignoni, costs could be as high as $40,000.

“We decided ‘I’m a teacher and we don’t have $40,000 so let’s see if the state is a good alternative for us,’” Brignoni said. “So we started those classes, and after some time of really figuring out what the foster system looked like, we realized that it was just not the right fit for us.”

Once deciding the state foster system was not something Brignoni and Burnett wanted to participate in, they stopped searching. However, according to Brignoni, they still met many new people, one of whom would eventually become instrumental in the adoption process.

By Morgan Gurwell
Standing in her kitchen, english teacher Coral Brignoni pulls out materials to make slime with her kids on Sunday, Oct. 8.

“My niece’s kindergarten teacher was a foster mother and is an adoptive mother,” Brignoni said. “This kindergarten teacher sent me a text and said ‘I wanted to let you know there are some kids who are available for immediate adoption and it wouldn’t be through the foster system. You could still be eligible and wouldn’t have to worry about them being taken away.’”

According to Brignoni, after that text message, things began to move very quickly.

“I wrote a family profile with my husband and we included … everything about us,” Brignoni said. “We turned in our profile, and I didn’t know how long it was going to take. We did that Sunday and by Thursday [the adoption facilitator] called and said ‘are you guys available to talk on the phone or Facetime? Because [the biological mother] has gone through 300 families and picked you.’”

Brignoni believes the teachers in her department gave her a strong support system through the adoption.“They have done so much to make this an easier transition,” Brignoni said. “Just knowing that all these people cared about how this went for me and my family, it’s heart wrenching.”

English teacher Ashley Agre, for example, helped Brignoni prepare to adopt her children by helping to collect necessary supplies for her.

“As soon as [the English department] found out she was getting the kids, we were all excited for her,” Agre said. “Once we had a timeline of when she was going to be getting the kids we put together a little ‘Wow you’re a mom now’ shower. We picked up pizza for lunch and over lunch we had gifts for her; gift cards, books, toys, all of that.”

Brignoni has also received support from her students. According to sophomore Rebecca Hertog, a student in Brignoni’s English class, her class has remained updated on the adoption process.

“She talked about them when she came back from maternity leave and she shows us pictures of them every once in awhile,” Hertog said. “We’ve all given her support, we always want to see pictures and know what’s going on and we ask how she’s doing.”

Agre believes she was motivated to support Brignoni because of their shared motherhood status.

“She’s a mom,” Agre said. “Being a mom is an amazing privilege [and] you want to give that love and support to people who are giving up their lives to raise these kids. I knew that I have a village of people that are there for me constantly, [and] so when you have that support system, you want to be that support system for other people.”

Brignoni feels thankful for her children despite the difficult process.

“I am very grateful that we have had this opportunity,” Brignoni said “It’s the hardest thing that I have ever done, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

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