This summer we hosted four Filipino siblings in preparation for adopting them. We are Michael and Theresa, and this is our second time to adopt. In April 2012, we became instant first-time parents to two lovely sisters, ages 17 and 12. In the two-plus years that we have been their parents, we have had many ‘ups’, a few ‘downs’ and have blended into a very grateful and blessed family.
Always open to new life, through birth or adoption, we knew we were called to adopt again. We wanted siblings and needed children who would be compatible with our now 19- and 14-year old daughters.
After much careful consideration, we found our answer in not two, or three, but FOUR more kids! Although this wasn’t our original plan, it was hard to miss one particular sign.
The children had been brought to the orphanage on the very same day that Michael had first introduced himself to Theresa with the intention of a possible courtship and marriage. So in June of 2014, we welcomed three girls, ages 15, 14 and 11 and one boy, age 12 (now 13), into our home for a month-long visit. Our main purpose in hosting them prior to adoption was to lessen the culture shock for them before being permanently placed in a new home, family, and country. We were also unclear about their English proficiency, so we wanted to give them time to experience the American life and get more comfortable with us before (hopefully) becoming a family.
These are just a few fond memories of their visit:
- Coming off the plane and into the airport, hearing one of our ‘soon-to-be’ daughters ask “Where is the snow?”, in Indiana, mid-June
- Teaching them a little about American money while they enjoyed shopping at a neighborhood garage sale
- Teaching them a little MORE about American money during a last-minute surprise ice cream trip with $20 to spend on the whole gang... and seeing them enjoy their ice cream!
- Watching them become our ‘neighborhood ambassadors’, introducing us, through their friendliness, to nice neighbors we had never met
- Realizing quickly that they were already somewhat ‘Americanized' when they began playing marathon Monopoly games while sprawled on the family room floor
- Appreciating their spontaneous help in washing dishes, preparing meals, grocery shopping and doing laundry
- Seeing our ‘soon-to-be' son feed a little boy at a family picnic, carefully offering him bites of food while holding him gently with his other arm
- Learning from this 'soon-to-be’ son that 'Before when I was in the orphanage, I was small happy, but now I’m large happy!’
When we asked the kids what they thought about leaving, their answer was mostly unanimous:
“We don’t want to leave, but we’re excited to fly in the plane!”
And soon, they will be flying again, to come home for good. We will be traveling to the Philippines to bring them home and begin life as a family, doubled in size!
Hand In Hand began in 1974 when our Founder and Executive Director, MaryLee (Fahrenbrink) Lane was living in the Philippines and recognized the plight of children living in orphanages. She proceeded to found Hand In Hand and we have worked in many countries over the years. Most all our staff are adoptive parents. We feel strongly for children in all countries who wait for families, especially children with special needs, older children, and sibling groups. We provide extensive pre-adoption education, schedule homeland tours for teens and adults and also offer summer hosting programs with older children who still yearn for their own permanent families.