What used to be recognized as the traditional family unit is becoming less common in today’s society. According to Prb.org, only 7 percent of American families account for the traditional family consisting of two parents and about three children. One out of every 25 US families with children have an adopted child. According to the U.S. census, about half of those have both biological and adopted children.
Connie and Alan
In part one, I introduced Connie and Alan, who adopted two biracial girls in the late nineties. The following are statements from the girls, who are now grown women.
“Adoption has been one of my greatest blessings. I am where I am today because of being adopted. I’ve had the blessing of being in contact with my half sister. She found me last year and it was really amazing talking to her and realizing that my life could’ve been so different if I hadn’t been adopted . . . My parents gave me a great life and I’m forever grateful that they adopted me. I’m grateful for the relationship I have with my sister and my half sister. My family and heart has grown; and I’m so lucky to have two families, both of which love me very much.” Natanya, the younger of the two girls
“Adoption has been both a blessing and a challenge in my life. When I was younger, kids at school would tease me about being adopted and not being the same skin color as my parents. Many people were ignorant and didn’t understand adoption. Those were hard times and I was bullied a lot. I was adopted as a newborn and brought into a home with two stable, hard-working parents that wanted me. My parents loved me and never made me feel different or less of an individual for my skin color. We didn’t always get along, but over time, I’ve learned to love and appreciate so much about my journey through life. – Johanna
Biracial and transracial adoptions are much more common today. According to Rainbowkids.com, 84 percent of international adoptions are interracial. After all is said and done, the simple fact is that family is family, whether through adoption or genetics. Connie, Alan, Johanna, and Natanya continue to grow together with love, respect, and kindness like any other family is meant to.
Alan was diagnosed with ALS in 2021. As his health declines, his daughters are nearby to help out their mother with his medical care and household duties. For Connie and the girls’ birthdays in 2022, they made Build-A-Bear teddy bears with a recorded message from their father inside. They each now have a cherished treasure to remember him by.
Natalie and Cody
The second family I asked to share their story with me is Natalie and Cody. This is their story in her words:
“Since I was a little girl I have always had an interest in adoption and even wanted to start an orphanage. After getting married, and having two beautiful little girls, those dreams of adopting faded year by year. We planned to have more children and things were looking pretty good as I was expecting our third child just one year after our second daughter was born. Our visions of having a bigger family were suddenly becoming more difficult and not the way we had planned. Visions of the crazy, exciting life of three children was disrupted with a miscarriage. So many people we knew had been through miscarriages and were able to have children after, so while disappointed and confused, we were not distraught and went on with life trusting that the Lord’s timing was not our timing and that He had a plan for us.
One year passed and still no baby, but we knew it could take some time. Two, three years came and went and still no baby. We began small research on different options and ways to assist and help, but never had great feelings about any of the options we had researched or heard about. Knowing we wanted more children, but unsure of the path we should take, we put the thoughts of having more children on the back burner and decided if we were supposed to have more children it would happen.
Meanwhile, those childhood dreams of adopting started to creep back in. Maybe this was going to become a reality and the path we were being led to. After presenting the idea to Cody, I soon learned that our ideas and timing were going to be different and would take some time to align. He was content with just waiting for it to happen on its own. I kept seeing the years go by and watched many of my friends and family my age having three, four, and five children and thinking . . . ‘Man, I am falling behind!’
Cody wasn’t ready to pursue adoption, but I wanted to try something. We decided to make a doctor’s appointment and just see the suggestions and the direction we would get there. The feelings during the appointment were ones of discomfort, confusion, and discouragement as we were asked if we really knew how to have kids. It frustrated me and made me so mad that I was adamant that this was not the path that was right for us and I lost any desire to try anything else.
A couple more years went by and the prodding by family and friends about having more kids began to stir at my heart. We both knew we wanted more kids, we were just so unsure of how to make it happen. Again, the thoughts of adoption began to fill my mind and so I decided to start researching and finding out all I could to present to Cody, yet still, there was hesitation and unsure feelings.
Within these years of uncertainty, we had moved a couple of times and with each move I kept thinking maybe this is where we would find the answers we were looking for. We can both testify that the Lord is very aware of us and knows what is best for us and the timing that is best as well. When we moved to Idaho we were in a place surrounded by family and friends, many of which adoption was a part of their lives. We were able to talk about adoption in relaxed and casual conversations where we learned a lot, but it seemed so far-reaching and scary to step into the process. It seemed like a lot of work with no guarantee. Were we ready for this?
Another year passed of indecisive thinking. I feel like God must have gotten tired of our lack of making a decision and decided to step in . . . As we were at a local parade, friends of ours noticed us and had strong feelings they needed to talk to us. They had recently adopted two children and now had five children all under the age of eight. They had their hands full and were loving life, but when presented with another opportunity to adopt, they were overwhelmed and didn’t know how to make it work. They had strong impressions, after seeing us at the parade, that we were the ones that were supposed to adopt this unborn child. There were many family and friends they had thought of that would be a good match, but nevertheless felt strongly that we were the ones.
In the conversations that followed with them, our feelings were indescribable, but they were feelings that we had been praying and hoping for in all of our endeavors to have more children. We had peace and motivating feelings to move forward and had future experiences that encouraged us to pursue this adoption. We were both confident and excited, as were our daughters.
Everything went smoothly with the adoption agency and was a lot less work than we had anticipated with adoption since we had already been matched. We believe this was a tender mercy from the Lord, one of many we would experience. Our sweet baby girl with black curly hair was born in Arizona on March 14. Harley Rose. From Idaho, we were notified as soon as the biological mother was admitted to the hospital. Our bags were packed and we were out the door. Some 13 hours later we were in Arizona cuddling and loving on our new addition.
We chose an open adoption and had some wonderful moments with the birth mother before we left Arizona. We had to stay in Arizona for a little over a week to wait for legal work to be done [before moving back] to Idaho. On April 23, the adoption was finalized in Idaho. On May 10th, we were sealed to our precious new daughter, for time and all eternity in a religious ceremony.
Our dreams had come true! Growing our family became a reality! Miracles are real and [we believe] they occur in the timing of the Lord with faith and enduring hope. Our precious Harley is nearly 3 years old now and life is wonderful, crazy, challenging, and full of joy. She is full of spunk, life, energy, trouble, and joy. When we think of her future and what it holds, with the challenges she will face and the joys she will experience, it is our goal to embrace her differences and her heritage in comparing them to those of our own as we incorporate them into who she is and who she can become. By exploring the culture and life of those of her heritage, we have grown to love and learn from them. We plan to instill the values those differences and similarities can play in her life as we celebrate, recognize, and display things from her country of ethnicity in our home.
We love our adoption story and how it has changed our perspective on life and the joy it brings when we put our trust in the Lord.”
This story is similar to part of my own adoption experience in that Natalie and Cody had two older daughters at the time of their family’s adoption of Harley. Their girls were 9 and 11, whereas my girls were only 9 and 6. My girls were beyond thrilled to have a baby brother, and they quickly adapted to the family dynamic. When I asked Natalie how her girls felt, this was her response:
“For our girls, it has been kind of a love-hate relationship, especially for our second daughter Reygen. She adores and loves having a little buddy, but they fight frequently over mom-time. Tyree is quieter about it but says she sometimes wishes she could have more attention. I asked them what they felt about adoption now than we were three years into it and they both said they liked it and were happy that we adopted Harley, and while they have had to adjust to less attention, they said they wouldn’t change a thing and would adopt if the opportunity presented itself in their life.”