Thank you to my friend Tammy for sharing her story for Adoption Awareness Month! Tammy has adopted from both Russia and Ukraine. I love seeing facebook updates about her fun and busy big family and I am excited she is sharing a little peek into how her family was knit together through adoption here! I love how she shares that adoption is not perfect, but it is worth it. Adoption may be more than you bargain for, but you would do it again! Thank you Tammy for being so candid. Make sure to follow Tammy’s blog (linked at the bottom) if you are a sucker for a good adoption story – they are in the process of bringing two more kids home soon! Pictured above and below are Tammy’s kiddos – two more are on their way – you will need to check out her blog to see their sweet photos!
I always wanted a large family. I love kids. Kids are fun. They bring out the best and the worst in you and they don’t care a whit if you are silly. You can’t walk into an office meeting and make up a song about the situation. But with kids you can start singing peanut peanut butter at any time and they will join in!
I had two kids but knew I wanted to adopt some day. I would adopt one day when everything was right. When the stars aligned and I had a house and a yard and a husband and enough money and enough time and enough energy and enough everything, then we would adopt. My husband agreed, we would adopt one day, when we had “enough.” Little did we realize we had PLENTY. We could easily have fed, clothed, loved a child. But we were still waiting for that “just right” moment. When I was unable to conceive a third child we decided we would jump into the world of adoption. We wanted another child. We wanted to adopt. It was the perfect solution. We worked with an agency that told us Russia was a stable program and easy and fairly inexpensive. It was not inexpensive. It was not easy. It was a horrible roller coaster ride. Meanwhile I became pregnant. SURPRISE! We were already into the adoption so we planned to continue that avenue as well. Best Laid plans of mice and men and all that. We would have our little boy home from Russia long before our baby was born. But that’s not what happened. Our daughter was 6 weeks old when we finally got approval from a judge to adopt our son.
He was very cute and tiny. And presented as perfectly healthy. He was tiny, undernourished, failure to thrive, club foot, sensory avoidant, sensory seeking, he cried nonstop. He cried so much we heard crying even in the rare moments he wasn’t crying. He was later diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, and much later Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and autism. He was not perfectly healthy. He was a handful and remains so ten years later.
With four kids at home and two under the age of two we were content for awhile. But I still wanted that large family. Four was large for the times but I wanted more. Our Russian adoption was such a nightmare I swore we would NEVER do that again. EVER! But inevitably I did start to feel the motherly desire for more children. We talked about it for years before acting. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Where? How? When? We inquired about several children. For various reasons they didn’t work out for our family. I was leaning towards wanting to adopt from China. The universe had other plans.
I happened upon a little blonde with something called Arthrogryposis. I had never heard of it but her little face struck me somewhere deep inside. I asked my husband what he knew about Arthrogryposis. He works in the medical field. He knew nothing. We did a little research and gathered it was really fairly easy to correct. Again the universe had other plans. We found out she was in Ukraine. I wanted to go to China. She had special needs. We already had a kid with special needs. Did we really want more?
As I walked near the lake in the blowing fall leaves watching my little blondes run in the wind on the beach. An eagle flew over, swooping down and snatching a fish out of the water. For me that was like an epiphany. I knew, in that moment, we had to go get that little blonde. We had to make her ours. If we didn’t her blonde hair would never bob in the wind. She would never run on the beach. She was meant to be ours. I still feel that way. She was meant to be ours. After much convincing my husband finally relented and said go get her. As we planned for having a 3 year old around again, we found another child in the same orphanage with her with the same condition. They looked like twins! We brought them both home. At 3 and 5 they looked like twins. People still ask all the time if they are twins. Arthrogryposis was NOT what we asked for. It was NOT what we planned for. It was NOT what we thought it would be, BUT I can’t imagine life without these two. The boy was later also diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome but remains the sweetest kid you could ever meet.
Before we could get to Ukraine to complete our adoption of these two, the boy was moved from the baby house to the preschool. We had to visit him there. When we filed our papers we said ONLY TWO. NO MORE! After this we are done. We will have 6 kids at home and that’s plenty. And again the universe had other plans. While visiting the preschool we met the other children in our son’s group. We had so much fun playing with them all we left Ukraine kicking ourselves for saying only two. Now we would have to go home and start over.
When we were there we had fallen in love with two little girls who were best friends. When we were there for our adoption of the kids with Arthrogryposis a little boy had come up behind me and tugged my shirt. I turned to see the biggest toothless grin looking up at me. How could I know that less than a year later that boy would be my son? In less than a year we were back in Ukraine bringing home 4 kids. Two girls and two boys. Of course they have special needs. The universe is funny that way. We thought we knew what we wanted. I guess we were wrong.
Life with ten kids at home has not always been smooth or easy, or even fun. But I love them all. They all have their issues. They had a life before coming to our family at various ages, the oldest being 8. They have physical, developmental, congenital, and medical diagnosis. These things do not go away. But we are surviving. I dare say we are thriving. The kids have been in our family 10, 6, and 5 years. We are into our new groove. We don’t need to expand our family any more.
What’s that, Universe? There are two more children waiting for us? How could we say no? Remember when we were just going to adopt one kid with no special needs at just the right time? We will soon have twelve minor kids, and two adult kids. Most have various special needs, including physical, developmental, and medical disabilities. I guess we will stop saying we are done. You never know when you will be called. As I said it isn’t always easy, but which one would I give up? I can’t imagine life with a single one of them missing.
Thank you Tammy for sharing your story! If you would like to learn more about Adoption in Russia or Adoption in Ukraine follow Tammy’s blog (and watch her newest additions come home!!) follow along at A Place In The Sun