Positive Outcomes Part 2
All Adoption Stories
An Open Letter from an Older Adoptee
A few years ago, I never dreamed I would find my child on the other side of the world. I never dreamed my first book would be about the harrowing journey that was her adoption.
In 2002, I was single and childless, and 40 years old. I had spent 20 years searching for Mr. Right and he was nowhere to be found.
Longing for a change of pace and some adventure, I went to Russia to sing Handel's Messiah, in a remote town on the edge of Siberia. There I met a little girl in an orphanage and I knew she was my daughter. I had seen her in a dream the night before. I had never even considered adopting an older Russian child, but from the moment I first saw her, I knew in my heart that Alesia was my daughter, and no matter what it took, I was going to bring her home.
When I returned to the US, my adoption dream hit brick wall after brick wall. My company laid me off. I had to break up with a boyfriend who didn't want children. I found out the orphanage director didn't like Americans and wouldn't even talk to the adoption agency . Alesia wasn't even available to adopt . The agency told me over and over to choose a different child . I didn't have the money I needed to complete the adoption. I started another romance that failed. At times I thought I was going crazy. I cried all the time.
Many people told me I was very foolish to adopt - I had thought Alesia was about 8, because she was so emaciated and she turned out to be 11. I persevered. When I finally got her home, she was 13 years old.
Through it all, I read everything I could about adoption, learned to speak Russian, cried, learned to make black bread and borscht, cried some more, and wrote in my journal. I couldn't find any books written by single women adopting older children. I wanted to read other adoption stories, and I found a few, but none were similar to my story.
When she finally came home in December 2004, I vowed to do what I could to bring attention to the plight of so many older orphans. Russian orphanages are filled with children over the age of 3, and only a small percentage will ever be adopted. The requirements for Americans have become stricter over the years, and rescuing those children has become much more difficult. I had to try, though, to do something.
The faces of the children in Alesia's orphanage haunted me.
At first, I was overwhelmed by the task of writing my book. There were hundreds of pages of journals I had kept throughout my trips to Russia, and sporadically through the adoption process. The first draft was just those journals, loosely cobbled together. There were a lot of references to the flights across Russia, every email from everyone concerning the adoption, everything written. I showed it to a couple of folks with backgrounds in the publishing industry, and they were appalled. One lady told me I had no idea how to write. I knew she was wrong. I also knew I had a Herculean task ahead. I persevered.
I kept working on the manuscript, shaping and refining it, cutting out huge blocks of travelogues and details that were insignificant. Finally, in 2006, I gave it to an independent editor, and she did a real edit on it, for a reasonable fee. I still worked on it some more. I was still reading and refining it in 2007 when I went to Kazakhstan to adopt my son.
I almost gave up finding a publisher for my manuscript, until I met Nancy Cleary. She runs Wyatt-MacKenzie Press, out in Oregon. They published a book of essays about multicultural mothering called Call Me Okaasan . I had submitted an essay to the anthology's editor, Suzanne Kamata, and she accepted it, to my astonishment. When I contacted Nancy to see if she would be interested in Adopting Alesia, she was receptive.
I made changes right up until the very end. During the last editing phase I wondered, would anyone be interested in my book? I don't write beautiful prose. I am not Faulkner. I just write how I feel, and try to be honest and clear.
My daughter has changed so much from the little girl I brought home almost 5 years ago. She is a beautiful 17 year old now, and doing well in school. She plays tennis, swims, reads voraciously, and is a wonderful big sister. Since learning about a lot of trauma she has endured, I have been amazed at her resilience. She has adapted beautifully to America.
The story of Alesia's adoption is unique. I saw her in my dream, and the next day I held her in my arms. I learned to fight with everything I had, to get her home.
My story is just like every adoption story in one important respect, however. I wanted to be a mother. I never realized how much I wanted to be a writer, though, until my daughter inspired me. I hope and pray that my book will shine a light for other single women and couples, to show them that adoption is possible, and older children can be wonderful. If I can navigate the rocky waters of international adoption, with the odds stacked against me, anyone can.
Adopting Alesia is now available on Amazon. Dee Thompson, who wrote a children's book called Jack's New Family in 2007, writes a daily blog called The Crab Chronicles and is working on her third book, about her son's adoption from Kazakhstan. She lives with her family in Atlanta.
09 Nov 2017
Avoiding the Pitfalls
Worth the Wait!
Part One of Two
A realistic look at International Adoption
Practical tips for new adoptive parents
"I think there was nothing random about the events of that day.."