May 07, 2014 Tami Scott Uncategorized
It’s 6:30 a.m. Aside from the clicking sound my keyboard makes when I type, the house is quiet. A different quiet than it was just a half a year ago. Then, it was just my husband and me. Now, there are four of us.
Our son, who is 6, and our daughter, 12, have another hour of sleep before they have to wake up for school. The morning will become brighter.
“It’s time to get up, Sunshine,” I’ll say to my son, then walk to my daughter’s bedroom to ruffle her hair.
Our daughter is by far the easier of the two to get out of bed; our son will take another 20 minutes before he wipes the sand away from his eyes.
The house is now swinging into action and soon the kids, with full stomachs and backpacks in place, will be on their way to the bus stop. My husband and I will then begin to start our work day.
This has become the new normal in our home — it’s a change that we chose to embrace, body, mind and heart, when we decided to adopt.
During the summer of 2012, Tim and I began the physical process of starting a family when we signed on with Grace International Adoption Agency and Family Connections for our home study. After doing our research, we had found Colombia to be our best match. Tim teaches and speaks fluent Spanish, he was familiar with the country having traveled there a few years prior, the government was stable and the distance not too far.
We also knew we wanted siblings and Grace offers a program in Colombia that focuses on the adoption of healthy, older children. And though we wanted our children to be as young as possible, we were open to a wide range of ages, boys and girls.
It wasn’t until a full year and one month later in August 2013 when we were given the referral for our kids. In fact, our caseworker was hesitant to hand it over due to our daughter’s age — she was already 12 going on 13 soon. Was she too old?
No, we realized, and we accepted the referral.
On Friday, Oct. 19 — after just one week’s notice — we were on our way to Bogotá, where we stayed a couple nights to meet up with our agency’s attorneys. We then flew to the city of Pereira, located 35 minutes west of Bogotá by air, in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, to meet our children.
Two nights prior to our meeting, the owner of our hotel who is an active volunteer at the orphanage where our daughter was living, walked us to a nearby grocery and department store. God works in mysterious ways. We ran into the nun in charge of that particular orphanage; a petite woman originally from Spain who has dedicated her life to raising and preparing these beautiful souls for a family of their own. Rosario, the hotel owner, grabbed Sister as she was leaving the store and excitedly told her who we were. Sister took our hands, embraced us strong and began to tell us the first of many stories we would hear about our girl. Our daughter was the oldest in the orphanage. Having been there for six years, it was starting to weigh on her, especially when she would have to say goodbye to other girls who had found their forever families.
Our daughter was failing classes; losing hope. She thought it wasn’t going to happen, that no one wants a 12-year-old. When she learned of us — a couple from the United States who wanted to adopt her and her little brother — Sister said everything changed. Her hope returned, her grades were getting better and she was happy. Both me and my husband wore tear-stained cheeks the remainder of that evening. What a blessing it was to meet Sister that night.
The day had finally come on Tuesday morning, Oct. 22, when we would meet our children. Social workers from the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) and sisters from the orphanage accompanied them. We bought gifts, ice cream and cake to celebrate and help “break the ice.” We were told all children react differently. They may hold back, cry or scream, or they may run to their new parents with open arms and an open heart. I am grateful to say, we experienced the latter. They called us ma and pa from the get-go.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the first night some tears were shed at bedtime, first by our daughter, then, our son. But overall, their transition was virtually seamless.
Colombia is an excellent choice for international adoption, however, the stay is extensive and not all people can meet the requirements due to jobs or other personal commitments. We were there a total of six weeks and one day, the majority of our stay having been in Bogotá. On the upside, if you are married, one spouse may leave after the one-week bonding period has been approved, which begins the instant you meet. If you are single, it may be an even bigger obstacle. But if you can work it out, you will reap many rewards.
We found that by staying in the environment familiar to our children gave us the biggest opportunity to bond. We learned more about their behavior, how they interact with other children and families, both Colombian and foreign, native foods they like, whether they’re adventurous or the laid back type.
We had the opportunity to live like a family at the Zuetana, a hotel in Bogotá designed to accommodate well those who are adopting. We met other couples and single parents from New York, Maryland, California and as far as Italy. We, too, bonded over day trips, dinners, frustrations, concerns, joys and the idea of finally becoming parents. We still keep in touch. No one can truly understand the enormity of your emotions during this transitory time like those you meet along the way.
On Sunday, Dec. 1, we packed our bags and were on our way back home — this time with two beautiful children by our side. Though we live in Central New York, we flew into New York City in the early morning hours, then drove our family to see the Statue of Liberty from the view at Battery Park before making the long drive home. They even got to see snow for the first time that same day — enough so that we managed to hold a quick snowball fight in a McDonald’s parking lot before hitting the road again.
Once home, our family and friends greeted us with the love and enthusiasm equal to the birth of a newborn baby. And precisely so. Life as a family of four had just begun.
Family Connections is located in Cortland and offers services for both prospective adoptive families and biological parents seeking to place their child. The agency is Hague-certified for international adoptions as well as for domestic adoptions. For more information, visit adoptfamilyconnections.org, call 1-800-535-5556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Grace International Adoption Agency currently has adoption programs in Colombia and Ukraine. For more information on its services, visit graceinternationaladoptionagency.org, call Theresa Barbier at 941-400-6016 or email email@example.com.