November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we are filling our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for!
Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words. We are still accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please enjoy the story of a family’s: Foster/Adoption. In the event you wish to discuss our fost/adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.
As we gear up for the Thanksgiving holiday, we feel this story is especially beautiful as it depicts a child’s giving heart. We’ve chosen to share it during Thanksgiving week, as it perfectly mirrors the spirit of the holiday season!
A Story of Thanks & Giving
In February 2010, a sweet freckle-face smiling girl walked into the room to meet us, and sat down opposite from us at the table, full of nervous giggles. We had just met our little daughter Julianna. It would be months more, long nerve-wracked months of waiting, before a judge would make this official. In the meantime, our bright sunshiny girl quickly found her way into our hearts for a permanent home. That first meeting was something special, in spite of the nerves.
Surrounded by social workers observing your interactions, as a prospective adoptive parent, you can’t help but feel judged for every action. It’s only appropriate, after all, for the caseworkers to make sure it seems like a good fit. Of course, that’s only the beginning. Holden in particular, being completely deaf, was unable to lip-read a single word that Julianna said, since she lacked most of her front teeth at the time. Drawing art in a doodle book became an easier way to begin to get to know each other.
We treasured our time with the few visits we had while she was still with her foster placement, and each time it felt harder to leave. She already felt like our girl. When she finally moved in at the end of March, we were so thrilled. We felt blessed by the addition of this incredible girl into our lives. After reading her a few storybooks before bed and tucking her in, followed by a lullaby, we sat in the living room with such a sense of amazement. Could this be real?
On the other side of a wall, a sleeping child in her room. Our child. And still we felt the stress of waiting, of uncertainty, in the back of our minds. As the months flowed by, we got to know our little girl so much better, and she learned who her new parents were. We had our ups and downs, but for the most part, we knew we were in many ways having it easy compared with what many go through. Holden’s biggest challenge for a while was Julianna’s lack of experience in having a present father. Holden had expected that language would be the biggest challenge, but Julianna progressed with learning American Sign Language as if she were a natural, so communication soon wasn’t such a big issue.
Having a father around was definitely something new for her, and a turning point came around Father’s Day 2010, when all of us went for a hike in the Sequoias. We became even closer as a family that day, and ever since then we have only grown stronger. Over the last year and a half, we have loved being her parents.
We have been thrilled to see her get involved with Girl Scouts, a kids’ singing group, softball, and now 4-H. She loves to be active and is an amazing student. She’s got the greatest sense of humor, loves attention, and is extremely creative. And yes, like many kids, she’s not so great at entertaining herself when we’re zapped from a long day at work, and her closet might be overflowing with a plethora of toys she doesn’t play with. We have our challenges, to be sure, but that’s part of the joys of parenting.
A few months ago, Julianna’s 8th birthday arrived, and we’d like to share with you this story, in Julianna’s words: “Before my birthday, I decided to not have gifts but to do something else for foster kids, so I told my friends to give me money instead of gifts. After my birthday party, I took the money and bought clothes for the foster children. After I bought the clothes, I took a picture of me with the clothes (pictured below). Then I took the hangers off of the clothes and packed them in a box to send to the agency. I felt very proud.”
We as parents, of course, were also proud of her for this selflessness –especially since it was her decision to do so, after being inspired by seeing a news story about two teen boys who raised money for a different cause. Julianna thought for quite a while about what she wanted to raise money for, and decided it would be for foster kids since she had been one herself. After contacting one agency, they suggested clothes rather than money, so that’s what she focused on. She admittedly avoided buying any clothes in her size that night, because she didn’t want to feel jealous about the new clothes. Now life has gone on, and continues to be worthwhile in every moment that we have as a family. We are now searching for a second child through Chrysalis House, whose staff we will always be grateful toward, for all the hard work they did in helping us expand our family. Chrysalis House is a non-profit with a lot of heart and a lot of commitment toward the families they serve.
***Family Names have been changed to preserve Confidentiality.