This past April 2nd marks the 20th anniversary of when our 2 daughters, Cynthia and Jessica became a forever part of our family through adoption. This is our story.
April 2nd, 1998 was the culmination of a year and a half journey of adoption. We celebrate April 2nd as our “Gotcha Day” since it was the day we actually got our girls into our home. But we had been in anticipation of their arrival for a number of months prior to that date.
We were never foster parents; never wanted to go that route personally, although I commend those who do. That is an awesome and extremely hard endeavor. We knew from the start that adoption was our goal, and not baby adoption, but child adoption, since there were so many children in need of forever homes. We also knew that we were geared to a social services adoption, and not an international adoption, again, since the need in this specific area was so great. Everyone has their own bent when it comes to types of adoption, and this was what we knew was ours.
We already were parents to 3 biological children, which is why I knew a baby adoption wasn’t our goal or need. At the time the girls came to us, our birth children were Alicia, 9, Josiah 7, and Aaron 3. Cynthia had just turned 10, and Jessica was 8 ½ when they arrived in our home.
Let me give you some background into how we arrived at this day.
I had always known in my heart of hearts that I could love another child, who didn’t have my DNA, and didn’t have to be a baby. I have always loved children, and had a knack with them from my earliest days of babysitting and helping in church classrooms, etc. I did day-care teaching until I had my own children, and then I provided in home day care for many years so I could stay at home with my own, and still earn some income for the family.
Children are my favorite kind of people, to tell you the truth! 🙂
All of my life, I have always wanted to adopt. Maybe it was from seeing the musical Oliver as a small child, or reading Heidi, or a thousand other reasons I’m not fully cognizant of, but it has been in my heart for as long as I can remember. My husband? I’m not sure when it was first put solidly in his heart of hearts, but I do remember the day it became vocal.
I had been praying and fasting about this specifically for a number of months, starting in about June of 1996, unbeknownst to my husband. I guess it was sort of a “fleece” of if “it’s truly God’s will, my husband has to want it too,” so we never really discussed it outwardly, although I think he knew I had that desire in me to some degree. I just never believed he was on the same page as me, and if it were meant by God for it to happen, God had to put us both on the same page, obviously.
Fast forward a bit to December of 1996, and back then, Maury Povich would always have a special adoption show around Christmas time, featuring kids in foster care needing adoption. (Back then, the Maury Povich show was quite different from the circus it is today, and sometimes I would watch when he would interview good guests, if I could manage it while day-caring, or managing our youngest, who was about to turn 2.) My husband would tease me about this, so this time I warned him that on the coming Monday, I was planning to watch Maury, and I didn’t want any flack about it! That particular Monday, I didn’t have any children until after school, just our youngest, and I also knew my husband was off of work. (His job schedule was a rotating one) So, I knew he would be prone to tease me for being glued to this show.
To my surprise, he chose to watch with me.
My heart just melted as we watched these beautiful children who were in need of forever homes and families. All of these children I watched with such compassion and heartache in my soul! I fought hard not to cry openly, but every moment was a reconfirming in my heart of hearts of my longing to adopt.
I vividly remember as I was sitting there on the floor in front of the TV, watching and lifting a silent prayer with my eyes wide open, saying “God, if you want us to do this, you have to let KD want to too!”
I had literally not even finished the prayer, when I heard my husband’s voice behind me saying “Honey, write down that phone number, I want to do this.” (The phone number was the National Adoption Hotline they were promoting that day on the show.)
WOW! Talk about answered prayer!
Now… all of a sudden, I was scared.
I wish I could tell you I was totally obedient that very moment to the open door God had put in front of me, but I balked. This was now REAL.
Christmas was about a week away, and I just sat on top of that number for a while, hiding behind the holiday festivities. Our youngest child’s birthday is on Christmas, so we are always extra busy on that day.
The week after Christmas, close to New Year’s, my husband asked me “Honey, have you called that number yet? I really want to do that!”
And so I did. I am glad it wasn’t just a “height of the moment” thing with him. I am glad it was reconfirmed. That was another manifestation of grace and answered prayer. I am also glad that my husband gave me that extra push when I had become frozen in place.
We called that day, and we were directed to call our local social services department to get our home study started, setting up our first appointment in January, 1997.
I don’t remember all the details of that year when it came to the adoption process. I remember we were originally looking for a girl, younger than our oldest biological daughter. One girl. Lol. God had other plans, as He many times does.
We talked to our children, explaining what adoption was, and asking them if they would like another sister in our family. They were all very excited. They were used to other children always in our house, and all of them were very social and kind to other children. My oldest was a very nurturing child, and was especially excited about having a sister, equaling the girl/boy ratio in the house.
We went through the home study process, which was all a tremendous learning curve for us, as we knew nothing about the red tape of adoption! None of it was as bad as we worried it would be. We had a loving home, and it didn’t matter the size of the home, or the income level, as long as we were stable, solidly providing and managing our home, and there were no issues present that would detract from us being able to successfully adopt. By the way, adopting this way takes no special financing or extra legal issues. We never had to spend significant monies out of pocket to finance the adoption itself, except for the final legal process which took place about a year after they came into our home, and even that was nominal. We were considered an adoptive home from day one, not a foster home. Now they may have changed that, I think its called foster/adoption, but that was what we dealt with. Since there is such a great need for adoptive homes for older children, all the expenses are minor to none, to help make finances a non-factor in this type of adoption.
We were then given a big 3 ring binder full of children in our state in need of forever families. We could have gone more national, but we didn’t see a need as there were more than enough waiting children in our state. We were told to go through the book and see if there were any children that fit our criteria, for lack of a better way to put it, and they would see if that child was still available for adoption. Sounds kind-of cold, and I don’t know if it’s still done this way, but that’s what we did! I found it heartbreaking to see so many children and sibling groups in need of a family, but we painstakingly tried to go the route we felt God leading us to go. The first child we found that we all were immediately drawn to, was a little girl, 4 years old at the time, named Alexandra.
We were so excited, and called our social worker asap and she tried to find the girl. She was nowhere to be found. Most likely already in an adoptive home, but not taken out of the statewide books. This was just an example of a paperwork glitch from an overworked social services department, which we would experience time and time again. So… basically, a closed door. We were praying constantly that God would lead us to the right child, so we were trusting His sovereignty in this whole endeavor. We tried again, with another child… and another and another. Every time, door shut tight.
Meanwhile, our social worker, who we loved by the way, was searching also. She mentioned a child more local, who had just had their parental rights terminated and would be available soon. The more she talked about this child, the more it seemed “right.”
We started praying about this child. The door started opening wider and wider but then we found out, she needed to be adopted with her sister, who had now joined her in her foster home. They had become inseparable, and to divide them would be heartless, so we began praying. The sister’s parental rights had not been terminated yet (the girls had different father’s) What seemed like a door closure… the older sister’s father had decided to ‘claim’ her… seemed insurmountable. We were told they were going to do a home study on him (he was never solidly in her life, and was constantly in and out of trouble with the law, among other serious issues) so that they would have a solid documented reason for terminating his rights. At first we were told this would take another year and a half plus, which was what we thought would be a solidly closed door, but at this point, a judge (who never knew about us, or a pending placement) decided enough was enough and they needed to let this child move on, legally terminating all parental rights with this child also. The door was now swung wide-open for these two sister’s to become ours. It would still be about 6 months, but we were in the final stages.
I had from the start been personally and earnestly praying that God would, in His Sovereignty, be leading us to a child who, there was no doubt, needed to be in a different home. I myself had grown up in a borderline home with 2 alcoholic parents. I look back and see that we could have easily been taken away wrongfully from our home, if social services had seen it at its worst, but I know our parents truly loved us and were not always that “worst” case scenario. Much of the time they were very good parents, when they weren’t under the control of the alcohol. For this reason, I didn’t want to always wonder if maybe we were adopting a child/children that were in that borderline situation like mine might have been. God works through broken families, as He did mine, for His good, and you can read about the redemption of my family here. I wanted to be sure that the child/children we would adopt were removed rightfully because the family was too far broken, and the children needed to be safe. This was the case with my 2 daughters, of that I have NO doubt, although I won’t go into detail here. I have never had to question this part of our adoption, and in fact, the only question I have ever had is why did it take social services so long to remove these children from a very dangerous home and to terminate the parental rights permanently after 2 long years in foster care. The answer is, I believe, that in God’s sovereignty, they were meant to be ours, and the timing was perfect for that.
The final stage was mostly just a waiting game. I can’t remember all the reason’s why… but they were both going through counseling, and there was red-tape to be finished with. We had some training courses in that time, to prepare us for different scenarios common to children going through what our girls went through. They had both spent 2 years in foster care; one in 4 homes, and one in 3. The final home for both was together with some good foster parents, but foster parents who were older and never planned on adopting. We wrote the girls a letter and pictures describing our family, and telling them how much we wanted them to become a part of it. Most of the waiting was for the adjustment period of getting the girls ready for adoption. Their counselors would talk to them about that too, and help them work out some of their fears and questions. They had their own social worker, who had come to love them very much. She was instrumental in helping negotiate the process with them and us. We were blessed to have 2 wonderful social workers, officially ours, and theirs, but who both became all of our friends in the process.
The first time we actually met the girls in person was at a McDonald’s in our area on April 1st, 1998, and everything went wonderfully. That was the final step, and the next day they came into our home around midday. I remember Jessica acted very eager and excited to be in our home, but Cynthia had a very tough little look on her face that said “Prove it. Prove it that this is forever.” She later admitted that that was truly how she felt.
Was this an “and they all lived happily ever after” type of story?
LOL, absolutely not. We had a lot of rough patches to live through in our adjustment period, as well as for the duration. I’m only telling you the beginning of our adoption story here. Some of the other parts, good and bad, are for possible future posts. These 2 beautiful girls had been through things no child should ever have to go through. I can’t tell you why God chose KD and I to be their forever parents, but I am forever thankful that He did.
I will tell you that we have ‘proved’ that it is their forever ‘home’ and we are their forever parents. I know that my 2 adopted daughters know we love them completely. They have tested that love for cracks and breaks and weak spots, and tried to stretch it to its limits… but it is ultimately limitless, and they know that.
The children became best friends and worst enemies at different times and in different match-ups. They fought like all siblings do, and they bonded and came together in defense of each other in beautiful ways, as all siblings do. I have scrapbooks full of family pictures that I cherish, with all 5 children having great family times together, throughout the duration of their childhoods. I believe that we have had many more good times than bad, but both have been encountered, and some are sadly ongoing. I have cried heartbreaking tears over each one of them that they may not even know about. Both Cynthia and Jessica (separately) went through a prodigal time that broke their daddy’s and my hearts, but they have both come back to us, and fully accepted us as their “real” parents once and for all. Because of this, and some choices that were made during all this, some sibling bonds remain broken, but I know, not beyond repair. I know my God heals and restores, and makes beauty from ashes. I have seen it in my life many times over. I am prayerfully waiting to see it again. It will.
My God is Good. All the Time.
Although it’s been 20 years, and all my children are now grown, the end of our adoption story has not been written yet. It keeps on unfolding in front of us as the years go by. God is the author of our story, and my prayer then, and now, is for Him to be glorified in our family. I sincerely pray that prayer for all my children, and now my grandchildren too. I love them all beyond measure, and as every one of them can tell you, they are each my “favorite.”
Every adoption is different, and every adoptive family is different. We all face different things, and we all handle them differently. I would not tell a new adoptive family that it is going to be peaches-and-cream easy, but I would tell them, if God tells you to do it, it is worth it, and there is an eternal purpose. All of my children have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, so I know, He is completing the good work He began in them, and will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6) I am glad God allowed me to adopt my girls as well as have my biological babies. (I later had another biological daughter that was stillborn. She too is an integral part of our family, even though she went straight to Heaven.) God has an eternal purpose in our families, no matter how they become our families. Adoption is a beautiful word in my heart, as is biological. One does not outshine the other. God adopts us as His forever children, so we know it is a beautiful way of becoming a family.
And it is forever.
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