Building a TEAM.

national adoption month correct

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 stacy@chrysalishouse.com.

Please enjoy another story of: International Adoption.  This family has an enormous heart for adoption and specifically special needs children.  They have built a beautiful family and it’s been our agency’s pleasure to follow them on an amazing journey…

If you would be interested in adopting a special needs child please contact the agency @ 559.229.9862.

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On Building our “Team”

Sean and I met in high school. We were high school sweet hearts and married shortly after he graduated from college. We always thought we would have two children and be a quaint little family. We pursued our college educations and began our adventure. In the next few years, God began working and moving in our hearts. We had our first child and then our second. We named them Deanna and Dylan and thought that those were cute little names for our quaint family of four. As our careers continued in the fields of accounting and psychology, respectively, we settled in to family and professional life. Then, God bestowed on us another blessing and we were expecting another baby. We would name him Darren and stick with our cute little “D” name theme as he would be our last child and we would be a quaint family of five. As our family had grown so did our faith. We began to earnestly seek God and seek His will in our lives.

In 2003, as life was taking us through the experiences of family, church, work, and daily life events, our oldest daughter began to ask questions about the plight of the orphan that would compel us to search our own hearts for meaningful answers. As she tried to wrap her six-year-old mind around the complex world issues of hunger, pain, and the life of an orphan, she asked us pointed questions like: “If orphans need a family and food, and we have a family and food, then why can’t we adopt an orphan so that they no longer need a family.” And “Why do we only give clothes to orphans when what they really need is a mommy and daddy?” Followed by, “Why can’t we do more for the orphans? Why can’t we let them live with us? We have a home. We have lots of love. We can be a family for the orphans, can’t we?”

We were the parents so we really did not have to answer those pointed questions. After all, we had just given birth to Derrick (yes, baby number 4). And yet, we also wanted to be forthright with our children and help them to think like world-changers. Those innocent yet powerful questions forced us to search for answers deep within ourselves. Sean and I began to dialog, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Why not us? Why not now?” The next thing we knew, our hearts were changed and we would add one more child to our growing family through adoption. We would soon begin to call our family a team as we learned that we were better together, that each member was significant, that each of us had a vital role, and that each child had blessed us immensely. In 2004 we received the referral through China’s non-special needs program for a little girl that we would name Dory (cuz we had to stick to the “D” name theme). She captured our hearts with her gentle grace and her tender smile. Her delicate little fingers and her sweet voice are more than we could have ever dreamed of. Now our family was complete!

But then in 2006, I received an email asking me to look at the file of a little girl with a limb difference orphaned in Jiangxi, China. She was on a waiting child list. Her right arm was very small and she did not have a hand. I knew our family was complete, but I thought I would at least look at her picture and pray for her. When I first caught sight of her picture, I could not breathe. I sat motionless and I gazed into the face of a little girl that would once again change our lives. When I looked at her, I saw a little girl with a spark in her eyes and a beauty that took my breath away. I immediately emailed Sean and begged him to take a look at this little girl. I told him that she had a minor special need and that arms are really overrated. We prayed, we petitioned for this child, we prayed some more, and we realized that this was to be our daughter. With the adoption of Deanna we realized that no one had truly prepared us for the adoption of a special needs child. Oh, our social worker had gone over the checklists and the cautions with us. We learned all about toddler adoption, limb differences, the potential challenges that special needs adoption could include. And yet no one had prepared us for the amazing blessings we would experience being parents of a child with special challenges. We were not prepared to witness our daughter’s tenacity, her strength, her sheer pleasure in achieving a difficult task after repeated tries. While we initially set out to make a difference in the life of an orphan, we were the ones who were blessed beyond measure. And our family was now complete.

Then in January of 2008, Deanna, our oldest daughter approached me in my office. She was now 12 years old and fully knew and understood the commitment and sacrifice of adoption. We had been home with Deanna for just a few short months and she said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking…” Something about the look in her eyes told me she had been contemplating the orphans of the world. After much prayer and consideration, the Lord moved us to adopt again from the special needs program in China. Some might wonder why on earth we would adopt yet another child. We did already have 6 children. However, we have a passion for making a difference in the lives of the orphans of the world. It is that very passion that brings us pure joy and delight. It is that very passion that navigates us to action in order to make a difference in the eternal things. It is that very passion that causes us to seek God’s will and then ask Him how He would like to use us. While we ache to make a difference in the world, selfishly we also know that we are truly the ones who have been blessed beyond measure when we have added to our family as love abounds through adoption. It is really a paradox in that we reach out and yet our lives are the ones that each new addition has blessed.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

And so in June of 2009, we went to China to bring home 3-year-old Damian. We spotted him on a waiting child list and knew he belonged on our team. Damian was born with congenital birth defects and has a “little leg” and a missing finger. While we are now experienced adoptive parents, we have learned that each adoption is unique and has its own twists and turns.

When we were in China, we learned that Damian had medical issues that we had not anticipated as they were not listed on his original referral. We had already chosen this little boy and had claimed him as our own. For us, that meant that we claimed him as a whole package. Before we left for China, we had decided that he was born to be our son and that we would face each new challenge like we would with any of our children. As his parents, we would find resources and we would get through all unknown territory as a team. With Damian we have learned that legs, just like arms, are overrated. This little boy has a zest for life and lives abundantly.

Learn about your resources and have positive, supportive people in your life.

Damian’s additional medical needs translate as working closely with a few additional medical specialists. He will have a few more surgeries than we initially anticipated. He now has a pediatric ophthalmologist, a urologist, a geneticist, a dentist, a handful of orthopedic surgeons, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, an entire staff at Shriner’s Hospital, and most importantly his new family all on his team. Here in America the medical care far surpasses that which he would have had access to in China as an orphan. We have learned that we can choose to cross one bridge at a time and not let fear creep in to our minds. Our son is thriving in his new family. In just four short months, he has learned English, learned about unconditional love, learned about being a brother and a son, learned about loss and gain, and learned that families stick together no matter what. And so now, once again, our family is complete (for now).

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely at Heaven’s gates in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, “Wow, what a ride!!!” ~Author Unknown

***Family Names have been changed to preserve Confidentiality.

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A Matter of the Heart: China Adoption

national adoption month correct

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 stacy@chrysalishouse.com.

Please enjoy the story of another family’s: Adoption From China. In the event you wish to discuss our China program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.   

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A Matter of the Heart

Our adoption story began about six years ago at a Christian music festival we attend each year. Bryan and I were really touched by Steven Curtis Chapman’s story and music video of his adopted child. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that?  But, then reality set in.

We have two children already and very busy careers.  Fast forward to several years later. Our eldest child, Nathan, was entering the Navy. Maggie was now a sophomore in high school. Bryan started mentioning adoption again and I thought he was out of his mind. There were 100+ reasons why this wouldn’t be good. But everyday for about 2 months, I was restless about this idea. I kept adding to my list of excuses why this wouldn’t be good for us. I had shared my restlessness about adoption with a dear friend. She asked me if I had prayed about it and my response was “No, because I was afraid of what the answer would be.” But I did finally pray about it and discovered that God’s plan for our family was indeed… to adopt a child. I had found peace in this discovery and knew it was the right thing for us to do. All my excuses were about me, not the bigger picture.

Bryan, Maggie and I all attended an adoption information meeting in February. We learned a lot about the adoption process, and the changing regulations of a China adoption. I would be 50 that year, and our adoption had to be approved by the Chinese government by October so we would still qualify. China adoptions were taking about 2 years at this point in time. We left the meeting with mixed emotions: we were still very excited about adopting, but discouraged about the timelines. Two years seemed like an eternity.

 We had decided that we would be open to the possibility of a child with special needs, so it was possible the adoption process would be shorter because special needs children are generally expedited through the process. By 4:45 pm the day that we turned in our application, we received an e-mail with a referral for a little girl! She would be 2 in March and was born with a cleft lip/palette. Our hearts were filled with love at the sight of this little girl who needed a family; and with astonishment for the timing of all this. God’s plan for our family and for this little girl was perfect.

The paperwork and dossier process could have been overwhelming except that I am a type–A personality. In June, we learned that we probably would not travel until November. The time waiting seemed like an eternity. During the long months we kept busy with preparing for our little girl. Bryan, Maggie and I took a Chinese Language/Culture class through Clovis Adult to prepare us for our adventure. In mid-September, we received word that we could travel in late October. Did I mention that I don’t like to fly?

We took a 3-day side trip to Beijing before uniting with our little girl. Two days after my 50th birthday, we left for China. On Sunday, October 28th, we flew from Beijing to Lanzhou to meet our little girl. Gotcha day was scheduled for Monday, but to our pleasant surprise, our daughter was waiting in the hotel lobby for us. We saw her as we entered the lobby and she waved at us – it took our breath away.

The first few days together were heartbreaking to experience; our daughter, Emery LiNa was lost, confused, and scared. It was quite an adjustment for her, but each day brought a closeness that the previous day had not seen. She bonded very well with Maggie, who catered to her every need. On Thursday of that week, we visited the orphanage where Emery LiNa lived. We were concerned that it would be difficult for her because she might want to stay there – but this was not the case at all. In fact, she cried and dragged Maggie down the hallway, trying to leave. Our bonding was going well.

We spent a total of 6 nights in Lanzhou before traveling to Guangzhou for our last four days in China. Other than Emery LiNa, this was the best part of our trip. All American families who are adopting travel through Guangzhou and it was a great experience to share stories and see all the Chinese children being adopted by American families.

Emery has been home with us since November 7; but it seems like it has been forever. We can’t imagine life without her. She is adjusting so well. She speaks quite a bit of English, including partial sentences, and understands ten times more than she can speak. She is a joy and brings fun and laughter to our home each and every day. She possesses some other Griffin traits as well: independent, confident, outgoing, and strong-willed. It’s amazing to me how much she is like her siblings were at that same age. We recommend creating a blog to share the experience with family and friends.  We also kept a journal which was priceless in helping us to remember the journey.

This has been a walk of faith for our family and God has blessed us. Emery’s special need is not really her cleft lip and palette; it was a matter of the heart — to be welcomed into a family that would love and care for her. 

 

***Family Names have been changed to preserve Confidentiality.

A Family of Five ~ built by Fost/Adoption

national adoption month correct

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 stacy@chrysalishouse.com.

Please enjoy the story of a family’s: Fost/Adoption. In the event you wish to discuss our Fost/Adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.   

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On Becoming A Family of Five

Several years ago, my husband and I made the choice to adopt.  After much research we decided upon an international adoption, mainly due to my fears regarding a domestic one. I had seen far too many bad movies and read too many heartbreaking articles concerning adoptive children being legally removed from their new homes to be comfortable with that option…

Having chosen a country and an out of state adoption agency with ties there, we then began our search for a local agency to perform our home study. With a recommendation to try Chrysalis House we made the decision to attend an informational meeting they were soon hosting.

The first two families to speak discussed their foreign and domestic adoptions. The third family had recently adopted three siblings from Shasta County through the foster/adopt program. They spoke so highly of their experience, both with the foster/ adopt program and Chrysalis House, that my husband and I decided to go with Chrysalis as our agency and to look into the foster/adopt program. After talking to others who successfully adopted children from the program, many from Shasta County, we chose to pursue this option instead of an international adoption. We also decided to adopt a sibling pair instead of a single child. After taking a few months to remodel our home, we began to seriously pursue the adoption.

The process was completed in early February when Stephanie, our social worker, performed our Home Study. Although I had been dreading this part of the process she made it so easy and comfortable for us. I will never forget the conversation we had with her when she finished the study. We were sitting at the dining room table when she asked if we would ever considered adopting three siblings. My husband and I looked at each other and shared one of those silent moments of communication that sometimes occur between spouses then we turned to Stephanie and said, “yes.” It just seemed so natural and right.

We spent the next week looking through the profiles giddy with the thought of finding “our” children. We read the overview of 3 children we found to be adorable  and let Stephanie know we were interested in them. Two days later we attended a family fair outside of San Francisco where we spoke to the sibling’s social worker and found out they had already been placed. I was extremely disappointed but my husband reminded me that adoption was a process that took time. Peggy and Stephanie cautioned me not to expect it to happen overnight. One week later we were sent the profiles of three more siblings, minus photographs, and decided these children would be a good fit for our family.

Stephanie contacted their social worker in Shasta County and that weekend we made the 5 hour trip to meet them. The moment we met all five of us seemed to know it was meant to be. The kids responded to us so naturally and their foster mom and one of their social workers felt we were doing so well they should spend the night with us in our hotel.

The weekend was a huge success and we left, very reluctantly, knowing these were OUR children. Over the next two weeks we phoned them every night, e-mailed them through their wonderful foster mom and sent photos. It was the longest two weeks of our lives. When the next weekend came we made the return trip to be with our kids. When we picked them up they were ecstatic to see us and their foster mom told us they had obviously missed us. She also said she didn’t know how they would react to our leaving.

The night before we were scheduled to leave I knew I couldn’t leave them, especially since our 4 year old son had undergone outpatient surgery that morning and didn’t want me out of his sight. That evening their foster mom told me she had spoken to their social workers. She told them she felt the kids were ready to be with us and, in her opinion, were going to be harmed by our leaving. She urged me to call and talk to them as well. I did and asked if we could possibly bring them home sooner than the three months they had told us it would take. I was told they would discuss the matter with their supervisor and we could talk about it the next morning at our scheduled meeting.

The next day we arrived at the meeting hoping to be told we could bring them home by the end of March. After giving the social workers a report on our visit we asked when we would be allowed to bring them home. We were shocked to be told we could take them with us that morning. When we asked the children if they wanted to come home with us and be a forever family they screamed yes and started jumping up and down. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. On March 3rd, two weeks after meeting our three beautiful children for the first time, we brought them to our home. Eight months later their birth parent’s parental rights have been terminated and we are just waiting for the adoption to be finalized. It has been easier, and harder, than we ever expected. The process was a breeze thanks to everyone at Chrysalis House, especially Stephanie, but our adjustment as a family is an ongoing process that has its ups and downs.

We are so very grateful to the staff of Chrysalis House and our children’s social workers in Shasta County, for helping make our dream a reality. All of my fears regarding a foster adoption were baseless and the rewards have been immeasurable! Our family is happy and the bonding process is going well. Our children, Avery (7), Grant (4), and Olivia (2) are thriving and coming into their own. We couldn’t ask for more.

-Robert and Sasha

***Family Names have been changed to preserve Confidentiality.

Finally Ours: A fost/adopt story

national adoption month correct

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 stacy@chrysalishouse.com.

Please enjoy the story of a family’s: Fost/Adoption. In the event you wish to discuss our Fost/Adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.   

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My Kids Are Finally Mine!

It’s official, the state of California now officially recognizes my husband and I as the adoptive parents of our children!!! In our minds, they’ve been our children since last year, but now it’s official, no one can take them away from us, and that in itself, is a reason to celebrate!

Our court date was given to us; only a few weeks ago and so planning had to happen quickly. It’s amazing how in moments like this; people will drop everything to be there. Almost everyone attending drove between 3-5 hours each way to share our big day with us!

We arrived at the courthouse for our morning appearance, and that in itself, is nerve wracking. Although we left early, somehow we were still pushing it to make it on time. I would use the old excuse, we have kids, but it was our fault since we had to stop for gas. Once we arrived at the courthouse, we had to wait in the morning line to get through the metal detector. I had prepped my kids about what a courthouse was and what a judge looked like, thanks to Google images. I had forgotten about the metal detector however, and as we headed through it I related it to when we go on a airplane, only to realize that we only pick people up at the airport, (so that was a useless comparison), and instead promised them that someday we’d go on a plane. I mean I have the rest of their lives now to take them places! (And I won’t need court permission!)

I had dressed all of us in a matching color and I admit we were dressed up for the occasion, so the nice people at the front were all asking if we were heading to adoptions. Was it that obvious? Apparently people don’t color coordinate for most court hearings.

When we arrived upstairs, we were ushered to the courtroom door by my cousins and their children who had driven four hours that morning to be there to celebrate with us. They brought with them 2 large stuffed animals, easily the size of my children, it was a joke gift to honor my mother who passed away several years ago. The kids were in heaven and nicely distracted from the cold courtroom! The rest of our 19 friends and family were either parking or in line with security but court was getting ready to start and I was getting nervous. My 94 year old grandma had even come for the event, but wasn’t in the room yet. The bailiff began to get the court ready and asked if everyone was here. I told him we were still waiting and to my surprise, he told me to just let him know when everyone arrived. The judge went ahead and heard other cases until everyone with us, made it to the courtroom. It turns out that it was actually great that we waited because by the time the judge got to us, we were the last case for the morning and so he really took his time.

Our entourage was lead back to the judge’s chambers where my husband, and I were told to sit down at his desk. With the kids on our laps, he began by having us swear in, the kids raised their hands too, for fun. The judge began by informing us that our children we ready to be adopted and that it was the court’s job to determine the best adoptive placement for them. The judge had reviewed our case and determined that we were the best placement for our children. Then he went on to begin the signing for each child. He told us that by signing these papers, we agreed to take on all rights and responsibilities for these children. We are to treat them as our birth children and we are expected to give them a good home and they are to receive any inheritance. I wish I had the exact words the judge used, but it was just amazing. The court really took care to choose the words that made sure people understand what they were undertaking and my favorite part was how they were to be treated as if birth children. This does not negate the fact that my children will always have birth parents, which are not my husband and I, but in our minds, we are to treat them as though we brought them into this world.

The wonderful ceremony was followed with a reservation at a local restaurant. The lovely restaurant manager, who I made the reservation with, had found out why were coming and gave us the whole private back room. Hours passed as we ate and visited and made sure to get the kid’s pictures with everyone who came.

It was the perfect peaceful end, to a journey, which at a few points had me unsure of the outcome. And now, after it’s all said and done, my husband and I are getting antsy to adopt again. My daughter has been asking for more siblings, and who can say no to a cute 5 year-old! I’m sure people will ask, why we would want to go through all that trouble again, and I equate it to mom’s who have just given birth. They don’t remember the labor pains they only see the beautiful child they’re holding. There are more children out there who need us to hold them.

Adoption From China

national adoption month correct

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 stacy@chrysalishouse.com.

Please enjoy the story of a family’s: Adoption From China. In the event you wish to discuss our China program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.   

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The walls of our five-star hotel on Shamian Island in Guangzhou were closing in on us. It appeared that our major problem was that we were far too organized and prepared.  Our appointment at the adoption office was not until 11 am, but I woke up at 4 am. I had planned five weeks prior what I was going to wear. And we had important papers, passports, diapers, cheerios, baby carrier, and anything else we thought we might need in separate zip lock baggies packed in a backpack.  Most of the items in the baggies had been packed three weeks before.

We planned a morning filled with mundane activities that came nowhere close to keeping our minds off the fact that our lives would change forever in a matter of hours when we met our daughter for the first time.

We were told to bring three gifts for three ladies, but fortunately  I had forgotten to bring gift bags. At least the hunt for wrapping paper would take some time. The search for wrapping paper was fun, but it did not use up enough time as we still found ourselves with far too many hours to wait until our appointment. I think we ended up waiting in the hotel lobby for the last hour and a half, sitting in the lobby chairs analyzing air particles, staring off into space, realizing that the year and a half of waiting was almost behind us.

The adoption office was only fifteen minutes by van from the hotel. Don videotaped some of the chatter in the van and the approach to the adoption office. Everyone pretended to make conversation, but all of the parents’ eyes seemed glassy, excited and full of anticipation. We arrived at the Provincial Affairs office and were led by our fantastic guide into the room where we would become a family with our daughter, Liu, whom we had named a few months before. The room was large with heavy dark wooden furniture. And there, right when we entered, sat three nannies with three little babies all dressed in identical blue pajamas.

They had identification badges hanging around their necks. But there were four couples, so there was one more baby on the way who was coming from another orphanage. We recognized Liu right away, and our hearts swelled with every emotion you can think of—love, amazement, excitement, and a tinge of sadness knowing she was leaving the country of her birth. She was sitting in the middle, sitting up straight as a book and looking around at everyone with a very intent look on her face. She was very alert, and to this day, she loves to people watch.

They told us to sit down, but no one could sit. We all just stood there in a semicircle about ten feet from the babies, but we were not allowed to hold them yet.  After about five minutes (which seemed like an hour!) Ming Ming, our adoption guide, called out “Wang Min!”  That’s us–Liu’s given name. I am ready, but we need to have our travel approval letter and passports out before they will hand her to me. We had spent weeks, years, lifetimes getting ready for this moment, but at the last minute we look unprepared as we fumble with video camera, backpack, envelopes, passports, and tears. Finally, we show the orphanage director’s assistant our passports and travel approval documents and they hand her to me.

What a moment that was … the first moment that Liu was in my arms. She was quiet, looking at me, looking at Don, and the other people around us. At that point, everything else was forgotten and the three of us were the only ones in the room. Later, I hear the other babies and their parents. There is still one couple waiting for their baby to arrive. The waiting mother is crying, waiting for her baby to come through the doors.

Liu examined us with that same intent look on her face. The same look that we saw in her earlier photo. She cried a little, but she really looked at us.  She has this way of wrinkling up her forehead that makes her look very wise and serious. The other babies expressed themselves through loud tears, but Liu seemed to show her emotions more in subtle facial expressions.

We returned to the hotel afterwards to complete more paperwork, for feedings, and naps. Don held Liu on the ride home, and he was smiling with a deep sort of joy that only fatherhood can produce. After a few hours of time alone with Liu at the hotel, we went back to the adoption office for visa pictures, interviews, and to ask the orphanage director any questions that we may have for him. He answered all of our questions, took a picture with us, and wrote a nice little note in Mandarin for Liu.

The next week in Guangzhou was wonderful. We were able to bond with Liu in China, which is an important part of the process in our opinion. We have strong feelings about the importance of certain aspects of international adoption, and since Don is a Korean adoptee with many friends involved with Korean adoption policies, he was sure to ask many questions about Liu’s birthplace and gain as much information as possible so that if and when Liu begins a search for birth parents, we want to help support her in every way possible.

Parenthood is amazing. Liu is a light. We took a long time, as many parents do, to be certain that international adoption was something we wanted to do. With Don’s experiences, we wanted to be extra certain that this was the right thing to do. We started the adoption process because we were ready to build a family together. We chose China because we both have various connections to Asia and I speak Chinese after having lived and worked in Taiwan for a few years. I am part Filipina, and Don is Korean, so we knew we wanted our daughter to have Asian heritage. In June, it was one year since we became a family. In July, Liu turned two. In December, she will enjoy her second Christmas.  And in the years to come, we hope to be the best parents we can be and enjoy every moment with our beautiful daughter.  A coworker advised me that having kids would change our lives, and she grinned as she added, “But you will quickly forget what it was like before.” Our future was stretched out before us the first time Liu was placed in our arms and we leaned in and hugged her close.

And at that moment, we forgot what our lives were like before she was there.

***Family Names have been changed to preserve Confidentiality.