Growing up adopted, Nancy has always had a positive perspective about adoption. “I wondered about things like my heritage, my background and if I had siblings or not, but I had a wonderful upbringing. I tell my mom she saved my life. That’s really what adoption is about” says Nancy. It’s no surprise that she and husband Mike who already had two teenage boys decided to adopt a child as well. “I always had it in my heart to adopt” Nancy explains.
After attending a Steven Curtis Chapman concert and hearing that he adopted three little girls from China, Nancy was moved to action. She and Mike began the process of adopting their daughter Anna from an orphanage in China. “The journey was filled with miracle after miracle” Nancy recalls. Anna, fifteen months old at the time, was listed as having microtia, an ear deformity that can affect hearing. “We didn’t set out to adopt a child with special needs, but the minute I saw Anna’s photo come across my email, I knew she was my daughter – the experience was life-changing” Nancy reflects.
“Being adopted and then adopting – wow – It’s like coming full circle! I can’t even begin to tell you the blessings we’ve seen. We celebrate Chinese New Year, we dress up and we make Chinese food,” says Nancy. “There’s such joy in adopting that I never want to stop.” In fact, Nancy and her family are currently in the process of adopting another little girl, two-year-old Arianna, from a different orphanage in China.
If Not Me, Then Who?
Ana, a single mom in West Sacramento always knew she wanted to adopt. “I didn’t try to have my own kids, I just felt that there were kids out there who needed parents and I could help. I went to school, I had my career, and I thought now I can do it” Ana remembers. She contacted Foster and Kinship Care Education at Woodland Community College, a program led by Instructional Specialist Cherie Schroeder that serves families in Yolo County. “I never thought I was going to be a foster parent,” Ana says. “I didn’t know if I could do it, but then I started going to the classes and thought, why not me, and if not me, then who?”
Soon after Ana got her license to become a foster parent and got a call about a two-day old baby needing short-term placement. “Cherie went with me to the hospital,” says Ana, recalling the day in clear detail. “I was so shaky, there was this tiny baby girl, just six pounds.” The support Ana received from Cherie and other volunteers helped her through. “I had to work at my job through the whole process and I didn’t have family leave” Ana remembers. When the little girl was 17 months old, Ana was able to adopt her formally. “When she says mom to me, I think, yes, I’m your mom” Ana says with a smile in her voice. Cherie Schroeder says of the experience “it’s a beautiful thing when you place a child into a family with so many opportunities.”
The Icing on Our Cake
When Kittie, a mom with two children of her own, was unable to have a third, she and her husband began exploring the idea of adoption. Around that time, one of her co-workers had a chance meeting with a pregnant woman. The woman was looking for adoptive parents for her unborn son because she wanted him to have opportunities and a life that she felt she couldn’t provide for him.
Kittie and the woman met for lunch the next day and not long after, the pregnant woman called and told Kittie that she wanted Kittie and her husband to be the adoptive parents of her baby. “She’s my hero” Kittie says. “I was able to be at her doctor appointments and my husband and I were there for the birth of our son.”
Though the waiting period involved with the adoption process was hard, Kittie and her husband acquired the help of an adoption agency and had an attorney to guide them through the process. And the bond they felt with their son was instant. “He’s made our family better, stronger, and more complete,” she says. “Just to have him, a seven year old boy who loves football, his mom, his dad, his sister and his brother, it’s changed our lives. He is the icing on our cake!”
Support and Resources
Edye Swidler, LMFT a clinical program director at Lilliput Children’s Services, a private, non-profit agency says “one of the most important things to consider if you are adopting is to work with an agency that you trust and to learn as much as you can about both the process and the special needs of the child you are hoping to adopt. It’s also important for families to be flexible and be willing to reach out to support systems and community resources.”
An adoptive parent herself, Edye knows how crucial post-adoption services are. Adoption is a lifelong journey and many families find themselves looking for support as children face various developmental milestones. Lilliput provides clinical services and support groups and they have been working with the Community Champions Network to develop a website that links families to adoption services.
-Written by Genny Heikka
*Article previously published in Sacramento Parent Magazine.
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