Adoption: our family’s journey, continued

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About Katie Fox

Katie is a writer, a teacher, a mezzo-soprano, and a lover of all things red. She and her husband Shaun are passionate about mentoring and equipping artists of all kinds. Find her online at katiefox.net.

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Katie first shared about her family’s adoption journey in December 2011. Here is the next installment.

Three years ago, when my husband and I decided to adopt a child, I never envisioned that one day I’d be riding along in a taxi on bumpy, twisty mountain roads in Colombia, South America, half drugged on Dramamine, weak from exhaustion, and just hoping to make it back to the hotel in one piece. But that is where found myself last March.

Our new little girl, Laura*, sat next to me in her car seat. I wondered how she would react to being strapped in (it’s a bit of a novelty there), but thankfully she didn’t mind. She looked out the window with great interest at her surroundings, and as long as I kept up a semi-continuous stream of cookies, she seemed quite content.

Laura and I were traveling from Bogota to her birth city in order to get her new birth certificate, updated with her new name – our family’s name. The adoption had been finalized the day before, and Laura was now officially part of our family.

After two years of paperwork, six weeks in-country, and five weeks in court, we were finally a family of four. Our older daughter, Annie*, was now a big sister; my husband and I were now the parents of two girls. What a magical and tragic and joyous and grief-filled journey, to welcome a child into our family through adoption.

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Laura makes us laugh so hard. She has the most hilarious facial expressions we have ever seen. She hams it up anytime someone pulls out a camera. How did she learn that? It is a wonder. She crawls faster than most children can walk, and screams with delight whenever we tickle her. She is pure joy.

But last March, she didn’t yet walk, didn’t yet speak – and she had just turned two years old. She couldn’t stand without support. She only had six teeth, and she struggled to chew solid food. She would hit me when she got angry, growling and swiping at my face with fierce precision.

I wonder about the first two years of Laura’s life. What were they like? Did she have many different caregivers, or just one in particular? These are questions to which I will never have the answers. I missed the first two years of my daughter’s life. And she missed the love and attention and care that only a family can give.

I stare into Laura’s deep black eyes – they are pools of ink – and wonder about her birth mother. I wonder what she would think if she saw Laura now. And I wonder how the absence of a mother and father in the first two years of life has affected Laura. Only time will tell.

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The day we went to the orphanage to meet Laura and take her home, we got there early.

Actually, we were on time, but after we arrived they told us that our appointment had been pushed back by two hours. Two hours! We joked nervously about “life on Latin time” and enduring “labor pains”, and tried to hide the rawness of our emotions, simmering just below the surface.

So we headed back to the taxi, and as we walked we passed a woman carrying a young toddler girl. The woman was wiping tears away from her face with one hand as she balanced the girl in her other arm. Skirting past them on the sidewalk, I looked at the little girl and did a double-take.

She looked like our Laura. My stomach flipped over. The only photo we had seen of Laura was six months old by then, and I mentally compared the photo with this girl. Her tiny face was buried in the woman’s chest, but as we walked in opposite directions, I strained to look back over my shoulder, and I could see her fat pink cheeks and black curls.

Then they disappeared around a corner, and out of sight.

I tried to put it all out of my mind, and concentrated on avoiding car-sickness as we drove over to a park where our older daughter could play while we waited.

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Two hours later, we returned to the orphanage and saw Laura face to face – for the second time. It turned out that the little girl I saw was indeed our daughter Laura.

Looking back on that moment, I like to think that the woman carrying her and wiping away tears was shedding those tears because she loved our daughter, and she was sad to know that was the day that Laura was leaving.

I like to think so. I like to think that our daughter was loved.

Tonight I am rocking her to sleep, singing lullabies softly under my breath, and she stares up at me with those black pools of ink, and I stare back. Her left hand reaches up and strokes my face, gently poking at my eyes and grasping for my nose.

I take her hand and hold it in my own, kissing it once before I lay her down in the crib. She looks up at me and smiles – a spontaneous burst of joy stretching across her sweet face – then rolls over onto her stomach and closes her eyes. Her breathing becomes even and rhythmic. I slowly exhale and tiptoe away.

I am so grateful.

Have you ever considered adoption? What are your thoughts?

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Comments

  1. What a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it!

    I briefly considered adoption, but it is very rare in Australia – less than 500 adoptions occurred last year. This is probably due to the very low number of Australian children available to adopt (we have a welfare system for single mothers and access to legal terminations) and also the exceptionally long wait for overseas adoptions – anything from two to eight years! In addition, preference is given to families who are unable to have children. Since we have two childrne already, and no known fertility issues, it is unlikely we’d even get a look in.

    While I’m very glad the need for intra-Australian adoption is so small, I do wish the government would loosen the reigns on overseas adoption. So many people could and would be willing to help out, if they knew the child they met as a toddler would come to them before they started high school!
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  2. This is such a beautiful and inspiring story. Congratulations!
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  3. Congrats on your adoption. What a lovely story. God is so good, isn’t he? I worked in the field of domestic adoption for 6 years and loved every second of the work. I love love love to hear how families are touched by adoption. Thanks for sharing!
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  4. Beautiful Katie! Thanks for sharing your story.
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  5. We experienced a failed adoption of a distant relative six years ago (the grandmother decided at the eleventh-and-a-half hour to retain custody). We had not been looking for adoption, but the year we spent preparing ourselves and our children for it made it a terrible wrench when it suddenly did not happen. It has all faded to an ache now, but it certainly has made me more empathetic to others on the adoption journey.

    Thank you for sharing your story.
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    • Lori, that must have been so very difficult indeed. I am so sorry. Adoption is definitely a road fraught with unexpected twists and turns. I hope that this experience can be redeemed somehow in the life of your family.

  6. What a powerful, well-told story. Bless you and your family for opening your hearts and lives to this sweet little one! I love hearing adoption stories.

  7. Congratulations. Such a powerful story. I have several friends who have adopted some internationally some within the USA and one that has done both, and what always brings tears to my eyes are the first meeting stories. A birthing of a new family.
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  8. After losing a child two years ago, we have re-opened the topic of adoption. I am filled with romantic notions, heart-stopping fears, and sobering questions.
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    • There are many, many good resources available out there to help you lay aside both your romantic notions and heart-stopping fears! :) I hope you are able to get some answers to your questions through some of those resources: books, yahoo groups, conferences, adoptive communities, etc – the best way forward is through!

  9. What a beautiful story! I would love to adopt but the cost and I’ve heard there are social workers that look in so often. While I don’t think we do anything wrong, I think I would be very nervous that they might not like something about the way we live.

    • You might look in to whether you state covers some or all of the costs of adopting a child currently in foster care. As for the social worker visits, they are looking to see that the child is in a safe environment and being cared for. If you knew what it took to have a child removed from a home, you would have no worries.

    • Laura, adoption can cost a lot of money it’s true (unless you do the foster-to-adopt route, in which case there is very little to no expense), but money should never be a reason to say no if you really believe you are meant to adopt. There are so many financial resources available. And the social workers cannot remove a child from your home simply because they don’t like something about the way you live. Something has to be pretty wrong in order for that to happen, as Lisa said above. Their job is to help all of you together to have the resources you need to thrive as a family.

  10. avatar
    Stephanie brown says:

    We have 2 beautiful children that God has blessed us with through adoption. One from South Korea and one from Ethiopia. I can’t imagine my life without them and although the journey is hard and full of pain sometimes…it is sooooo worth it. I have been beyond blessed! Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. Beautiful story, thanks for sharing!
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  12. That is so wonderful. My husband and I are planning to adopt our children, in about 3 years. We’d like to do domestic adoption within the US. I am a little nervous about the cost and possibility of it falling through, but I know this is what we want to do, and we are going to make it work! Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. You told your story in such an incredible way. I felt like I was there with you. We adopted both of our children from Bogota. My son is now 7 years old and my daughter is 9. They were each 3 months old when we adopted them and we also spent 6 weeks in country. The entire experience is one I believe I don’t have the right words to share with people so they could truly know how wonderful it was. The “labor pains” and all. Thank you for sharing yours.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story! As time goes on, I am certain that communication with Laura will improve. I pray your journey is filled with more joy than pain.

  15. My husband and I are definitely thinking about adopting. I feel like I’d be ready to jump right in, but after looking into it a little my husband started having doubts and questions. Like what if the child doesn’t love us? What if we don’t love him or her? Can no one else hold our new child for sake that they might bond with them and not us? What if our biological kids don’t like the adoptive? I’m not too worried about this, but any feedback would be helpful.

    • Krista, I would say that those are doubts that everyone has when they start this process, and they are doubts that almost never ever come to fruition. Truly. If you can find a community of adoptive families in your area, join them and talk to them. Get to know them, ask questions. If not, look for one online. Read adoption blogs if you have to. When you start talking to families that have done this before, you realize that those fears are mostly all unfounded. You learn about bonding and attachment and how to do it right. You learn that most bio kids treat the new adopted sibling just like any other sibling. You learn that it’s normal to be afraid that you won’t love them, but that you WILL love them. Don’t let those fears stop you. Adopting our child has been a huge blessing to US! :)

  16. Congratulations on your adoption! Your story is a beautiful one and I appreciate you sharing.
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  17. How beautiful. Thank you for sharing your powerful story.
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  18. I so love to read people’s adoption stories. My husband and I similarly have always planned to adopt even since before we got married. We are currently expecting our first bio baby and plan to start the homestudy process to adopt our next children once our first is 2 years old, as is the rule in Britain. I would love to hear from others who have pursued inter-country adoption in Britain, adoption is not as popular here as in the USA, probably because there is less financial support such as grants and tax credits. Any useful links, resources or pointers would be appreciated.

  19. Beautifully written story. We have built our family through adoption as well. We did domestic though and I was in the delivery room with our oldest, I got to cut his cord. He’s been ours since the moment he was born, then nine months later, his brother was on the way. It’s wonderful to have biological siblings. The boys are 4 and 3 now and were all as happy as can be. It was an open adoption so whenever I have family history questions I can get them. They know all about growing in mommy m’s tummy, and they will be able to get those questions answered later. The adoption road is not easy, especially after years of fertility treatments, we had two fail and waited almost 4 years….but none of it seems to matter now as we spend our days playing pirates and knowing how blessed we are!
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  20. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. My husband and I plan on adopting internationally in another year or two, although I’m sure we have no idea what we are in for (both good and bad) :)
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  21. I love reading other family’s adoption stories. We have 5 children, 2 who were adopted from Ethiopia. Both of them were almost 5 when they were adopted. The road of adoption is twisty-turvy and sometimes filled with grief, but with much joy and grace intermingled. Thanks for sharing your story.
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  22. We have 3 boys adopted from China who are such a blessing to us!

  23. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. Adoption is something that needs a lot courage and conviction, and you have done well. May God always give you strength to continue on with this journey.

  24. I’ve always wanted to adopt. In negotiations with my husband, I agreed to having one biologically first – which turned out to take longer than we had hoped. Our little man is five weeks old, but we’re hoping to adopt the next one some day!
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  25. Such a beautiful story. We adopted our daughter in Kazakhstan 4 years ago. I think about the months she spent there without us often . . . laying in a crib with only the cries of other babies to keep her company. Adoption is filled with both joy and sadness. You put that so well. Thank you.
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  26. avatar
    Sammye Campbell says:

    Once again you bless me! For 24 years my heart cried out prayers and tears for a young woman I had never met, but who’s laughter and smiles rang through our home and welcomed my greeting each morning. Each birthday and Mother’s day I would whisper a prayer for her and hug him closer for her. Four years ago she found us…and him. For our family it has been a completion and it has been for her. The interweaving of our lives over the 24 years of unknown is a miraculous picture of a Sovereign God’s hand at work in the lives of his children. He is so good!

  27. What a beautiful story and yes, God is amazing! My husband and I adopted out daughter 9 years ago…it was a domestic adoption and after a deja vu moment at the beginning that almost ended our second chance at becoming parents (the first time was 2001 and after raising a child for 7 months the court found some missing relatives and we had to relinquish the baby) we moved forward. I thank God every day for our beautiful daughter who has taught me so much and made me a better person for it. I also say a prayer for her birth mother who made a sacrifice that I cannot even imagine. We celebrate every day and learn from each other, and more importantly, we are family!

  28. Beautiful story! After 8 years of heartache we were blessed beyond measure by the miracle of adoption (infant/domestic) . :) Our son is now 4 and I can’t imagine my life any other way! <3

  29. OH!!! Were you able to meet the woman you saw carrying your daughter? This story made my heart ache so much. I’m an adoptive mom and can’t imagine not knowing for sure that I didn’t steal my child away from her first parents. I would NEED to know, and I would want my daughter to have that part of her story. I hope you are someday able to find out…keep pushing. I know from experience that adoptees NEED to know where they came from, and no amount of goodness later in life can make up for those losses in the beginning. As parents we need to give them wholeness however we can.
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  30. Beautiful post. It struck my heart in several ways.
    Adoption has been something that was my radar for years. I imagined a larger family, but feel like I’ve already birthed the children I’m supposed to, and that somewhere out there is a child (or children) who need(s) us.
    Who knows if it will be a future chapter for me?
    Also, my father’s family is from Colombia, so that also made a connection for me. The poverty is astounding from what I understand, but at least my families representation of the culture is a whole lotta fun.
    Best wishes to you & your growing family!
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