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Lessons Learned as We Brought Our Son Home

Toddler Adoption Family Adoption Stories Older Parent Adoption Adoption Process Boys Cleft lip or palate China

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  Written by Mark and Carmen, Adoptive Parents through Children's Home Society on 04 Feb 2015

After going through the emotions of dealing with fertility issues, my husband and I realized we just wanted to be parents. We wanted to be able to love and share our life with a child.  It didn’t matter to us how that child came into our lives.
When we started looking into our adoption options, we quickly learned that there were more boys than girls that needed a family to call their own. We were also told that if the two of us were open to minor needs, our process might go faster because we wouldn’t have to wait as long for a referral. At the time, we were in our early forties and wanted to build our family as quickly as possible, so we said we’d be open to boys and minor needs.
When we found out about Cole, the beautiful boy who is now our son, he was 15 months old.  Now he is a bouncy, bubbly, six-year-old boy that likes cars, planes, and Legos.  He loves fishing and looking for bugs and thinks it is funny when he makes toot noises.   And we can’t imagine life without him!  For these reasons and so many more, he has become such a big part of us.  We are blessed beyond anything we ever thought possible.
We understand how much information families thinking about adoption need to consider. For this reason, we want to highlight a few of the lessons we learned through our personal adoption experience. We hope this will answer some of your questions and maybe give you some peace of mind and heart.
It’s important to remember the highlights, for this reason we want to note some of the pros of our adoption process:

  • First and foremost, becoming parents.  This is the best thing that has happened to us and has brought us closer to each other.
  • Gaining a new perspective of “family.” We are more humble, appreciative, and aware of having a family.
  • Having opportunities to meet other families and feeling a sense of calm with the knowledge that we are not alone in the process.
  • Learning as much as possible about adoption and culture.  We took advantage of the resources our agency, Children’s Home, offered (classes, books, etc.).  We would also highly recommend the book, Adoption Parenting—we brought it with us to China and still use it today!
  • Meeting our guides in China.  They helped us through the process and were absolutely amazing.  We didn’t have to worry about a thing.  They set up the schedule and got us to where we needed to be, when we needed to be there.  We can’t say enough of how appreciative we are for their help. 

That being said, the adoption process is hard.  Here are some of the cons we experienced:

  • The waiting.  At times it felt like we would just hurry up and wait. 
  • Paperwork…it can be a little overwhelming.
  • The fear of something going wrong and the adoption process stopping. Even though we didn’t have any reason to feel this way, it was hard to avoid the fear.
  • Money, and the lack of privacy surrounding the finances of your adoption.  Be ready for anyone, any place, any time asking, “How much did it cost?” 

From our experience, here are a few ways to make the adoption process easier:

  • Keep busy. You may be waiting for the next step, or an approval, but the time will appear to pass more quickly if you’ve got something else to do.
  • Learn as much as you can before you travel. 
  • Change your expectations and prepare for your new reality.  The chances are your child will not be a newborn.  This change might especially affect new moms because a two-, three-, or four-year-old child is a lot heavier than a newborn.  Do some upper body exercises to get ready to carry your little one.  Our “little guy” was about 28 lbs. at 20 months old when we first met him.  That much weight isn’t that bad, but keep in mind children move and squirm.  It feels a lot heavier.
  • Write down your experience. It will all go by very quickly and this allows you a chance to reflect on how far your family has come.
  • Child proof your home.
  • Once you get to the country or location of your child, get a small stroller.  They are wonderful in airports.
  • Get ready for a tough plane ride home.  Just remember you will never see those people again.  Also, most plane rides of a longer distance (ours was about 12 hours) offer headsets for movies.  Most of the people sitting around us used the headsets or ear plugs and were very understanding.

Your child is just that, a child
There are challenges with adopted children that aren’t as apparent with biological children. In our case, there is the race issue (that we will always worry about and have had to deal with), night terrors, effects of cleft lip/palate (surgeries, delayed speech, doctor visits and dental work).
Keep in mind, your child is just that, a child.  All children have their challenges, as we have seen with Cole.  He is an amazing little guy and we love him unconditionally.  However, he is still a six year old and acts like any other six year old.  There are tears but also lots of love, laughter, hugs, and kisses, too.  He is our pride and joy and we wouldn’t change a thing.  He is our little miracle.  We realize this is true for all parents, but to us, after all of the tears, prayers, anxiety and paperwork, we feel like the most blessed family on Earth.




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