International Adoption Story

ilissaHot Topics, Mom's Corner

Here’s our story on a friend’s experience with international adoption.

“About ten years ago my husband and I decided it was time for us to start our family and that we wanted to adopt. We spent a lot of time researching different types of adoptions and the pros and cons of facilitating the adoption ourselves or through an agency. For us the idea of doing it all ourselves seemed overwhelming so we went on a search for an agency. We went to an adoption information seminar and searched the internet. We came up with three agencies that we were interested in and we interviewed them. It came down to two agencies that we felt comfortable with and in the end we went with Voice for International Development and Adoptions (VIDA) in Hudson, NY. From the beginning we felt something special with the people there and this seemed like a very important quality for something so huge.

The next step for us was to decide where we wanted to adopt from, again after more research and a lot of soul searching we chose Guatemala. The determining factors were that they had a private adoption system so the children were in foster care and that the foster mothers only had two babies at a time. We liked the idea that the foster mothers didn’t have too many children and that the babies had a “sibling” for socialization. The basic diet of the country consists largely of beans and fruit and that there is very little drug abuse. The last important factor was location and the fact that you are not required to stay in country for an extended period as you do for many of the other country’s programs. The process is stressful enough and the thought of having to live in a foreign country for six weeks without the support of family and friends seemed paralyzing to us.

So now we have filled out a long thorough questionnaire for the agency, been accepted, and picked our country. Now we wait for our child to come into the world, June 26, 2003 my husband and I were handed a packet with a picture of our beautiful baby girl on the front. What an amazing day that was but it was just the beginning. It took another nine and a half months to get her home. Just after we signed papers for our daughter Guatemala stopped processing adoptions. That was the longest, hardest summer I have ever experienced. There was a constitutional fight happening between the government-PGN who processes the adoptions and the lawyers who facilitate them. By September all was worked out and the lawyers won the fight so the PGN had to get back to processing adoption cases. We got word at the end of January that our file was “out of the PGN” we now had to wait for our appointment at the embassy so we could make our travel plans. We flew to Guatemala on Sunday February 29th 2004 and had our baby girl in our arms on Monday March 1st. Every year in our house we have two family day’s March 1st and November 2nd, the day we had our son in our arms in 2006.

Our first trip to Guatemala was just about getting our baby we were only there for four days. We were first time parents so we were a little like deer in the head lights and we did very little exploring. We did everything wrong such as feeding our baby our food mashed up, eggs and berry juice. Her foster mother told us she ate everything and liked eggs and ice cream. None of this hurt her and she still eats almost everything and has no food allergies. When we went to Guatemala to pick up our son our daughter and her grandmother also came with us. We were more comfortable with the country and we stayed a couple more days than we did the first time. This gave us the chance to travel a little more. We plan to go back when our children are teenagers to volunteer for a couple of weeks and then travel around. Whether you birth a child or adopt the time before is a pregnancy. You go through excitement and fear and when you bring your child home whether it is a new born or a five year old the first three months are surreal. This is the nature of the adjustment it takes when your family unit changes. Having two children born in a foreign country makes our family a little exotic but to us our children are our children. I can’t imagine any other child being mine. I forget that my children don’t “look” like me even when I see a picture of us or look in the mirror with one of them. I am always taken aback when someone asks me where my child is from… what do you mean they look just like me!”

~ Meta & Mark