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Our adoption story started long, long ago in a little girl's heart. That little girl was me. I always knew that if I was going to be a mother, I would adopt. When I met my husband to be, I shared those feelings with him, he agreed. In the middle of a happy life together, we two got a surprise; we were going to be parents! This one was not coming via adoption - I was pregnant. A beautiful baby girl joined our family.

After the newness of being parents settled in, we knew we still wanted to adopt. Our family was not complete. We wanted siblings for our daughter; we wanted to parent more children. So our search for the right agency to fulfill that dream started. Adoption can be scary and fraught with worry. We needed an agency we could have confidence in. We needed to feel secure that OUR best interests were being looked after. We wanted an agency with a good record, a long history, great communication and many success stories. We met with several agencies. We finally found the one that fulfilled our criteria, Crossroads Adoption Services. They answered our questions, they returned our calls, they kept us updated, they educated us, and they helped us through the paperwork. Sometimes in the process they held our hand and handed us a tissue.

Meeting the girls that we adopted started with a phone call "I have some pictures and information on some waiting children in need of homes." As we read and learned about the children, we discovered that two of the older girls lived in the same orphanage and were friends. "Is it possible to adopt two?" I asked. The emotions were intense. Our kids were on that list. Their photos were there. I can't quite explain it, but when we first saw our future daughters' videos I couldn't help feeling maternal pride. I was proud of what they had accomplished, despite not having had us with them these 10 and 11 years!

The next months were filled with paperwork, trips to government offices, writing checks, reading books about adoption and bonding, phone calls and waiting. There is a lot of waiting in adoption. There are emotional ups and downs. There is stress and there is worry. There is joy and excitement and anticipation. Crossroads helped us every step of the way. We were supported fromthe time we left home, arrived in country, received our daughters, and finally as we came home and started our life together.

When the day came to travel to China, we were anxious to become parents again. What would our new daughters think of us and their new little sister? How would they adapt to family life? Our biological daughter was 4 years old. Our adoptive daughters were almost 11 and 12.. Would they like us? What would they think of how we looked? I could not pronounce my new daughters names correctly. I lamented that as their mom I could not even pronounce their names. What would we wear the first day we met? What would we say? How would we break the ice? We felt ready, yet we felt inadequate. We felt like all new parents do, humbled that soon two new lives would be in our hands.

When the morning arrived we ate our last breakfast as a family of three. We bathed and got dressed in our preplanned "meet our daughters and sisters" outfits and then it was time to get in thevan and get them. It was exciting, nerve racking, indescribable. Suddenly, we were in the room all together for the first time- our family of five. It was a relief. We could hold them in our arms for the first time. We could look at them. They could look at us. Strangers now family! One process was done, the next one just beginning.

Some months have passed now since we entered that room and meet our new daughters. We have experienced many firsts together. We have had some hard times, some challenges and worries. There have been some tears, and growing pains. But there has also been happiness, joy, satisfaction, and contentment. Our family of five is still learning what it means to be family. But I am confident we will make it. I am so happy that we have each other. I am so happy that that heart's wish of so long ago has become our reality.

-Aaron and Shauna, parents to three daughters




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