Q&A with the Harrison Family: Big rewards of a long in-country stay
A few weeks ago, we met the Tejada-Acosta Family, who lived in the Dominican Republic for four months while adopting their son Jackson (Nancy actually stayed longer than that, but for that story you need to head over to that post).
This week we’re checking in with Jordan and Andy Harrison from Miami, Oklahoma. The Harrison’s, who are already parents to three children ages fifteen, nine, and six, are in the process of adopting a teenage boy from the Dominican Republic. They are living in the Dominican Republic right now!
Jordan and two of their biological children have been in the DR since November (the kids are doing remote learning). Jordan owns a children's clothing store in their home town and had been able to work remotely, thanks to an incredible staff. Andy travels back and forth (for more on how Andy and Jordan are making work, work, check out the video on our Facebook page). Their eldest daughter has stayed home in Oklahoma for her freshman year of high school and first year on the high school cheer squad (Psst...check out this video, which may make you cry, of her visiting her family in the DR for Christmas).
The Harrison’s are on track to complete their adoption processing by the end of April making their stay in the DR about six months.
Curious how a busy family of five (soon to be six!) is making the challenges of a long stay for an adoption process work? Jordan and Andy are here to answer!
Q: What prompted you to adopt from DR?
A from Jordan: My husband and I have served in missions in the Dominican Republic since 2018 and when we met the boys at El Faro, an orphanage, we knew that the Lord was leading us to be a forever family to a child there. When you see the life you were fortunate enough to be given, and you experience children who have absolutely nothing as an orphan, you can no longer sit back and do nothing when you can change a life.
Q: When deciding to adopt, were you automatically open to a country that had a long stay? Or did you balk at it at first?
A from Jordan: We worked slightly backwards, knowing the child we wanted to be our son and then moving forward with the adoption process. Therefore, we didn't have a choice but to accept the long-term stay in the DR.
Q: The cost of adopting is daunting enough for many families considering adoption, the cost of staying in-country can be even more so, how do you afford it?
A from Jordan: COOKIES! Lots and lots of cookies. We tease at our home that baking is what brought our son home. HA! We personally thought we could not afford an adoption. We are a middle-class family who is in ministry full time, and I own a small children's boutique in our small town. We became creative and did lots of fundraising. Monthly cookie boxes, a softball tournament, t-shirts & sweatshirts, holiday ornaments, and a golf tournament.
Q: Where do you live in the DR?
A from Jordan: We live in an apartment in Santo Domingo Este that we found on Airbnb. It is about 10 minutes from our son's school for easy transportation and it allowed him to stay in the same school with his friends during the process. However, I recommend, when possible, for families to live in the National District which speeds up the process of the adoption due to efficiency (Note from Agape: Depending on the court jurisdiction, some courts take longer than others, especially if outside of Santo Domingo.)
Q: How has the stay been different than you imagined?
A from Jordan: Moving to another country there are a lot of unknowns. Safety, language, activities, transportation, etc. Pleasantly so we were able to find a routine and a natural pace of life here in the Dominican Republic. Using Uber was the safest and most realistic choice for our family which allowed us to travel to see different parts of the city. We were able to see a lot of different attractions, but also find local spots that quickly became our favorite. A small water park near our home, parks, etc. We found a church and regularly attended, which provided a community of people to spend time with us and our kids.
We felt at peace being here and people beginning to recognize us as regulars helped with the safety factor of being in another country. There is a lot of waiting time between the steps that allow you to explore and fully embrace the culture around you. My main recommendation is to take advantage of creating memories with your child in their own country.
When you embrace the culture around you and choose to live in it, your stay in another country becomes one that will stay with you forever.
Q: What resources have been most helpful?
A from Jordan: Having open communication with Agape and our in-country lawyer has been a huge asset. This allows you to be completely aware of the step you are on in the process and remain at ease as there is a lot of waiting in between the steps.
Q: How has/hasn't Agape been helpful during your adoption process?
A from Jordan: Open communication that Agape has is one of my favorite things. I know I can always make a quick phone call or email and receive a prompt response. Which in situations like adoption provides a lot of peace.
The organization, and how thorough the team at Agape is, provides an experience that allows you to be secure in knowing nothing will be missed. There are so many steps and things to be done that I never worry if something is going to be forgotten because of the communication and thoroughness Myriam and her team provide.
My only recommendation is to be more thorough in the fees that are in-country. The medical plus vaccination fees are drastically higher than listed in the packet. Along with the visa penalty of overstaying. Small details like these help people be more prepared financially. (Note from Agape: Based on Jordan’s feedback we’re in the process of updating the information on our website and our information packet).
Q: What are the biggest challenges of such a long in-country stay?
A from Jordan:
There are four main challenges:
- Being away from our family and friends. We are fortunate enough to live in an area where all our family resides, and we are all extremely close. We miss them terribly!
- Understanding culture and language barriers for a long-extended time.
- Managing the finances of a long stay.
- Being away from work and trying to balance it remotely.
Q: What are some of the biggest rewards?
A from Jordan:
Hands down the time to cocoon your family into the transition of adoption. If we didn’t have this season of blending remotely here, without the distractions and business of life back home, I don’t believe the whole process would be as wonderful as it has been. Feeling “quarantined” to focus on each other, understanding roles, and communication has been such a blessing that we wouldn’t have experienced if we were here only two weeks and been forced back into regular life. Also, learning the culture and language, which will remain a part of our lives and our children’s lives forever.
But wait there’s more from Jordan and Andy on our Facebook page! Wondering how they’ve made their jobs and a long stay work? Or what they want other families who are considering adopting to know? Or what they and their kids miss most about Oklahoma while they are in the DR? Check out the series of video answers on our Facebook page (one will be posted April 24 - 26th).
Still want more from the Harrison family? They’ve been vlogging their experiences in the Dominican Republic. Check out their YouTube Channel.