I remember the first time I held my newly adopted cousin. Her beautiful brown skin was soft, just like mine. Her ears were the same shape, her eyes were beautifully brown, but worked just like mine. I couldn’t figure out why this new family member was a big deal, wasn’t she just another cousin? Was the excitement surrounding her because she had super curly hair? Yes, I honestly thought that, I was only around 7 or 8, I think. The celebration was because this new baby wasn’t just anybody, she was a new member of my family. Even more exciting was that my new cousin joined our family by adoption. In the ignorance of youth, I thought the reason it was a big deal was because of her different hair, not adoption. While I was raised in a family with a strong influence from adoption, I didn’t appreciate how remarkable it is to find the right child and the right expectant family until my husband and I brought our children home through adoption.
From the earliest I can remember, I’ve had cousins in my family via adoption, every single side of my family…paternal, maternal, and my B. family. These cousins were brought home from many places; from South Korea, from India, from across the USA, and later from Haiti. To me, bringing family members home through adoption was as common as if they’d come home through an aunt carrying the child. It didn’t matter that they weren’t the same color either. In my mind, they were simply my cousins. Family. Once, when I was in high school, I remember telling my grandmother that I knew someday, I was going to adopt also. Even at a young age, I knew that my heart was built for adoption.
During our first five years of our marriage, as we struggled with the pains and frustrations of infertility, we spoke of adoption often. We called agencies all over the state where we lived, researching different agencies, only to find out almost every agency in our state had a minimum age requirement of 25 years old. I was still only 23 years old. The one agency with no minimum age requirement held an open seminar on adoption and we were excited to attend. That open seminar did not go well; in our opinion the gentleman teaching the seminar should have nothing to do with adoption. We were instantly confident using that particular agency was not something we could or would choose at that time. We were completely out of options. We were stuck in a difficult waiting game.
Two months later, we received a phone call. Through a family member referral, we learned of a little boy who was 10 hours old and needed a family. We immediately went to the hospital, met his mother, and she allowed us this beautiful, elusive, impossible, and the most amazing opportunity—to raise this little boy. We were parents! I was a Mom! His adoption was completely jumbled and backwards (we completed our home study within 2 weeks of him coming home). Seven months later, we finalized his adoption and were legally his parents.
When we decided to begin the adoption process again, our son was 18 months old. Everything that we thought we knew up until this point was easy compared to what followed. We completed our home study with an agency, finished our foster parent license, and then waited. During our “waiting,” we were scammed more than once, considered by adoption selection committees for a handful of waiting children (I still remember each of their names), made many new friends and learned the meaning of “failed adoption” through experience. Also during that time, I suffered another miscarriage and subsequently struggled with overwhelming depression for many months. I felt broken. Broken that I couldn’t carry a child. Broken that none of the selection committees chose us. Broken when the expectant mother chose to parent her child instead of placing him with our family. I couldn’t seem to understand why none of our efforts to build a family were working! Selfishly, I agonized over this fact endlessly, all the while completely missing one large, very profound fact: We weren’t waiting for just any child and any expectant family. We were waiting for the right child and the right people that would become our beloved family.
In the three years since our daughter was placed in our home, I’m even more grateful for the lesson I learned during that painful, seemingly endless time. Because now, they are not just her family, but ours also. We weren’t waiting for just anybody, we were waiting for the people that would become our beloved family and the people that were right for us. Family is always worth waiting for.