This is a guest post by Becky Morales of Kid World Citizen.
My two 4 year olds sat giggling in the cart while I checked out at Target. “Oh cute, are they twins?” I looked at the cashier, and then glanced at my kids: my daughter, Mexican-American, and my son, Ethiopian. “No, they’re a month apart,” I said with a smile. I finished paying and was walking away when I heard her say, “They came out a month apart!?”
When we were going through the adoption process for the first time, we had to take a class called “Conspicuous Families,” to prepare us as a transracial family and the comments we would receive, and to talk about cultural identities. We’re frequently referred to as the “United Nations,” or people say we’re like “Angelina and Brad” (I don’t think they’re referring to our good looks).
The truth is, when I look at my multicultural family, I just see my husband and my kids. We love, laugh, argue, and play like most other families; we celebrate holidays, and have extra traditions and rituals related to our abundant cultures.
My husband and I met in college, when he was an exchange student from Mexico and I had just returned from studying in Spain. I knew from the moment we met that I would marry him… and then on one of our very first dates he mentioned that he would like to adopt. He talked about volunteering in an orphanage in Mexico, and hoped that he would have a large family one day. I was so excited and surprised, because I had always wanted to adopt, since I traveled with my dad to bring home my brother and sister from Peru when I was 15.
We got married, lived abroad, finally bought a house, and decided to start a family. My beautiful baby Viviana was born, and we were smitten. We knew we wanted her to have a sibling, and so we began the long and arduous process to adopt. The road to adoption (and expanding your family by birth) is different for everyone, but always a roller coaster of emotions! We were not approved to adopt from Colombia since Vivi was so young, so we changed our application over to China. Then, during our wait, we actually had our second sweet baby, Maya.
Our two beautiful girls filled our house with laughter, but we knew our family was not complete. When Maya was 6 months old we received out monthly newsletter from our adoption agency and saw the pictures of children who were waiting for families – either because they were boys (girls are often requested in adoption), they were older than 2, or because they had special needs. There was one little boy whose smiley dimples really stood out to us. I called the agency, but another family was reviewing his file.
We waited and waited, and a while later the agency told us that the family was not ready to proceed with adoption. It was so exciting to see more pictures of him, and read about his personality: “always smiling, always playing” (this is still true!).
Five months later we were in China meeting happy Toñito for the first time! He was such a joy and, at almost 4 years old, he instantly bonded with Vivi and they became best buddies.
Not all social workers will approve families to adopt out of birth order, but in our family it worked out perfectly. He and Vivi are 3 months apart so they are in the same grade, on the same swim team, and both play soccer. At the same time they are friends, they also have their own interests and unique talents, and we really haven’t experienced competition.
After a couple of years with our family of 5, we felt like something was missing. We really wanted to add another brother to our family, and began to research adoption again. We found a newish program in Ethiopia, and started the long homestudy process again.
Because we were open to ages 0-4 and special needs, we got our phone call only 1 month after getting approved. It was an exciting and crazy day! Since my husband was stuck in Europe due to the Icelandic volcano smoke delaying flights, we were having a hard time reaching each other by phone. I was volunteering at school without my phone, and when I turned it back on I had multiple voicemails from the agency and my husband (who already had heard the news).
I quickly called everyone back and then went to my computer to open the email with his photo and file. I saw a nervous, adorable little boy, with too-small pink capris, staring back at me. He was described as “active and playful,” which is exactly Ricky- if multiplied by a thousand.
The loving emotions of finding out you will have a new daughter or son (whether because you find out your pregnant, or you are matched with a child to adopt) are the same: ecstatic joy, contagious excitement, wondering how the new baby/child will be, and maybe some anxiousness as you make the preparations.
Whether you are adopting or pregnant: your child is your “real” child, you are their “real” mom or dad, and the raw emotions and feelings of love are real. We love our sons, and we love our daughters; though everyone says they are so lucky to have a family, my husband and I know that the truth is, we are the lucky ones to have them all as our children.
If you’re interested in learning more about adoption, or have specific questions, I am a huge adoption advocate and love to share resources. Leave me a comment below, or join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. We also just started a Pinterest board about adoption, and will be adding more pins as we go.
More links to check out:
- Go here to read about our journey to China to bring home Toñito.
- Go here to read about our journeys to Ethiopia to bring home Ricky.
- These forums are where I first began asking questions about adoption – they are part of Adoption.com which is a wonderful resource for parents seeking to adopt.
- This was our agency for Toñito’s adoption: Children’s Hope International
- This was our agency for Ricky’s adoption: World Association for Children and Parents
- Once in the process, there are a lot of secret Facebook groups, and also yahoo email groups filled with potential adoptive parents and (adoptive parents) who can answer your questions and help you through the process. You may like to start here.
Becky Morales is the creator of Kid World Citizen, offering activities that help young minds go global. She is a mom, teacher, teacher-trainer, speaker, and educational consultant who loves to talk about world cultures.