Not long ago I came across a piece of artwork in a home store inscribed with the saying, “Life takes you to unexpected places, Love brings you home.” I don’t know who to credit this quote with, however it perfectly describes the journey that brought my children and I together as a family. When life brought me back to Minnesota from Dallas at the age of 35, I certainly did not expect that I would become a very proud and grateful single mom to three children nor did I imagine that the journey of building and becoming a family would take me across the world, unite me with strangers and teach me lessons of love, patience and understanding.
I began researching the possibility of adoption shortly after my move back to Minnesota in 1997. After much self-reflection and assessment of my current financial and emotional status, I began the process by attending an “information night” at a local agency. I left with a confusing overload of information and a sinking feeling that building a family through adoption would not be possible for me. Not to be deterred, I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with a social worker.* That was the best $35.00 I have ever spent! I was able to ask questions that related to my personal situation in a private and comfortable setting. That meeting brought some clarity to the process of the adoption home study, referral and placement options available to me and also renewed my hope that adoption as a single person was entirely possible. I learned there are many other single persons right here in the Twin Cities who had completed adoptions and were happily and successfully parenting children.
International adoption was the best fit for me as a single person. I chose to adopt from India because at that time India allowed single persons to complete adoptions and children were coming home at a young age. Two months after completing my adoption home study, I was matched with a month old baby girl. She weighed only four pounds at birth but appeared healthy. The next seven months were long and the wait difficult as my dossier was reviewed and approved in India. On June 22, 2000, I flew to Los Angeles to meet my daughter where she and several other children and their adoptive families were to meet. Watching the throngs of people coming out of customs, I stood in awe at the wonder and beauty of the diversity of humanity. It seemed to me that the entire world was coming together at that moment in time. Of course my stomach was doing flip-flops as I excitedly and anxiously waited for the group to clear customs and immigration. Would I be a good mother? Could I handle the stress of single parenting? Would my daughter and I be able to bond with each other? Then suddenly she was there, placed in my arms by the social worker that had escorted her from India. Tears streamed down my face as Emma Faith gently reached up, stroked my cheek, and nuzzled her head of soft curly black hair in my neck. “Oh look,” one of the other parents exclaimed, “she’s giving you love!” Love indeed!
The next few years are a happy blur. Emma was a cheerful, easy-going baby. She and I bonded securely. She reached developmental milestones on track. We had the usual struggles that all families with young children face—teething, ear infections, cranky days and long nights, the never ending juggle of home and work responsibilities, yet all in all it was blissful, peaceful time. When Emma was two years old, I began the process to adopt another child from India. International adoption policies and procedures had changed since I first began the adoption process. Referral times and waiting lists were long and many countries had changed policies especially in regard to single parents. Half way into to the process, it became clear that a second adoption from India was not going to be possible. I explored other programs eventually choosing to adopt a special needs child from China.
Noah Daniel came home at the age of two in 2004. A bright, active boy, he definitely brought a whole new energy into our little family. Noah was born with a congenital birth defect called Microtia (absence of ear). He has undergone many surgeries, and has a few more on the horizon as he grows. Noah’s initial adjustment was a bit rocky. Not only did he have to recover from extensive medical procedures, some of them unsuccessful, he suffered night terrors and needed lots of love and reassurance. Throughout his first year at home, I had many doubts as to my ability to lovingly support and parent Noah as his behavior was difficult and challenging. Family and friends provided support and encouragement and with patience and time, Noah grew to love and trust me and accept Emma and I as family. Now at the age of 13, he is a talented musician, excels in school and is a friendly, likable guy and loving son.
And last of all there is Molly Frances, my youngest daughter, who was also born in China. I certainly did not expect to embark upon another adoption journey especially given the challenges faced with Noah, however one day when my social worker called to catch up on Noah’s progress, I found myself inquiring about the possibility of adopting another child from China. Molly came home in 2006 at the age of three. Molly’s adjustment to the family was smoother than Noah’s, although not without challenges. She came to me opinionated and stubborn and remains so today! Molly loves to craft and “DIY”, has a strong sense of fashion would very much like to see my wardrobe and makeup routine updated.
I never expected that my children and I would come together in the manner in which we did, yet I am grateful that we have become the family we are. Each experience along the way, each trial, miss-step, mound of paperwork and dossier preparation lead us to each other. We will continue to laugh, play, argue and love one another. And we certainly did not become a family of my own doing. My mother, siblings, friends as well as social workers, home-study and placement agencies all supported and encouraged us along the way. Above all, my children’s birth families started us on the path with their acts of love in placing their children and entrusting the care of them to an unknown stranger.
I purchased that piece of artwork and it now proudly hangs in our home. Life took the four of us to unexpected places, the love of family, friends and complete strangers brought us home.
*If you are considering adoption, we encourage you to contact our staff to discuss your specific circumstances and what programs would be best suited for you. It is also helpful to fill out this form, or at least consider the questions on it.
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With a combined 275 years of experience, Children’s Home Society of Minnesota and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota serve children and families through adoption, child welfare, and family preservation. We are driven by the understanding that a child in a safe, nurturing home is a child who thrives. We work to give every child security, opportunity and a loving family. Through our partnership, we offer the following services to families nationwide. We encourage you to visit the Lutheran Social Service Rainbow Kids page to view additional country programs.