Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Macri Family Story

Our Life a Year After Adoption

Looking at pictures of Korea together:

Me: Avi do you know who that is?

Avi: Umma. (foster mom’s name)

Me: Do you remember living with Umma?

Avi: Yes

Me: Did you like Umma?

Avi: Umma not home. Avi home now.

That little conversation took the wind out of me like a punch to the gut.  And it was just as surprising. But that conversation sums up where we are now.   I didn’t know she remembered anything from Korea, let alone had feelings like that about her life. Everyday she has more independent thought, creativity, and sensitivity to what's going on around her. That kiddo never ceases to amaze me.

Today is our family day, our 1 year anniversary of our daughter coming home from Korea. She had just turned 2 then.  I thought about this day a year ago. Life was so crazy back then, it’s hard to believe I had the wherewithal to think about something as minor as this one year anniversary. We were losing our independence and our sleep by gaining a beautiful daughter. Despite all our preparation, we had no idea what we were in for.    I wondered what our life would be like a year in. Were we going to be happy or regretful? Would Avi be progressing well or would we be one of the countless horror stories I’d read on the internet?  It was such a huge, tumultuous change, I really couldn’t have predicted what I’d be saying.  Honestly, I thought with as tough as things were going, could we possibly be in a good place? I wish I could have known then what I know now.  It would have eased my worried mind.

I’m so happy to say things are going great. Avi is nowhere near the scared upset little girl we brought home. She’s having fun and smiles and laughs all the time.  She’s growing not only physically, but mentally by leaps and bounds. She loves stories and swimming. She enjoys walking her bike around and tormenting the cat. We love the way she makes us laugh. She's shared life lessons such as “penguins are stinky, like my butt.” After a day at the zoo, I’m glad that was the take home.

She is so outgoing and friendly to everyone she meets. (with the exception of the kid she clubbed last week) She finds so much enjoyment in everything we do together no matter how simple. Happiness is effortless for her and that makes her a joy to be around. 

When Avi came home from Korea, all of our worlds were turned upside down. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it was difficult.  Avi’s best friend now is Lucy, our neighbor's daughter. She’s almost a year younger. Now, two year old Lucy is Avi’s age when she arrived. It amazes me the quality and quantity of thought coming out of her mouth.  Lucy comments on everything. I know all that was trapped inside Avi when she came home. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been for her to have all those thoughts and be unable to express them. It’s no wonder we had so many meltdowns.  But like all things, that passed with time.  All those thoughts have found their way out. Now the flood gates have opened, and it's non-stop. 

With as tough as this year was, all I can say is hopefully next year will be as good as this one has been. If I had to do it again, would I? Yes. Without a doubt, it’s been the most rewarding, life changing thing Ann and I have ever done. Would I have done anything different? I don’t think so. We’re where we are now because of every choice we’ve made, both good and bad. And that place has turned out to be pretty great.

That good life presented itself this morning as I was leaving for work. I told Avi goodbye as I do every day. She came up to me, put her arms up and said “hug please”.  I knelt down and got a big hug with her head squeezed into the crook of my neck. After a long hug, she whispered in my ear,  “I love you daddy”.

Wouldn’t change a thing that brought us here.
Not a single thing

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Prichard Family Story

Continuing our celebration of National Adoption Month, here is another personal story from a family sewn together through adoption.  Thank you to the Prichard family for sharing their hearts with us.  

Adoption for us would start with a television show on girls in China.  A phone call to a very close friend would confirm that this would be a great adventure for my husband and I to take.  My heart and my mind were on a journey, one that would bring a daughter home to us after having two biological children. The country was China, but plans change and Korea was the country chosen.  We waited as patiently as we could, and the day would come that we would see her little face on our computer as quickly as the dial up internet would allow.  I remember the tears and the excitement we had that day.  She would come home in a very short while and was one of the three most beautiful babies my eyes had ever seen.  

As life has it the  journey would not be complete. It wasn't long before my heart once again felt that tugging feeling.  My heart may at the time been the only one feeling that but being married to a good man left me with hope that he would change his mind.  He put some rules down on this next adoption thinking it would take me awhile to find another baby that fit his ideas, but it was only a matter of days until I saw my little boy in China.  I knew in an instant that he would be ours and when my husband came home it only took him a moment to also realize this angel would be our son.  I didn't get to travel to China as our house was now full of little ones.  This always broke my heart but I knew my husband and parents would bring our little boy home to me.

Fast forward years and life is full of adventures with our four children. Adoption has not always been an easy path, it is  hard to grasp just how much our little ones have lost and how that affects daily life and family.  For this reason I have learned the true meaning of unconditional love and marveled time after time at how my heart can love so fully and completely beyond biology.  I would never trade being their mom for all that I know and feel.  Adoption has changed me for the better and become and huge part of who I am.

As life would have it once again there would be there little nudge in my heart.  I knew this time the wanting another child might not work as this would be a child number five.  I knew I had to be patient and wait until my husband either said yes or no. I knew he truly had to be ok to add another child and had to make up his own mind.  Three weeks later he said the answer was yes.  Yes to making our family big by today's standards, loud in so many ways, and full of love.  So we are waiting again for me to be called Mom by one more little one.  He will be our baby and waiting for him is so very hard.  Praying and trusting that they day will come that I can travel to Korea and hold him in my arms. Arms that will have to share because not only has my heart been tugged by adoption but each child we have has been changed by adoption.  

So the journey continues as we move from a family of six to seven! 

Teri Prichard

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Cardwell Family Story

Below is the story of the Cardwell family who have two beautiful, amazing, talented daughters. It's an awesome story that I'm sure you all will enjoy.  

My husband and I have been married 21 years....high school sweethearts, married right out of high school, ready to take on the world together.  We feel extremely blessed to be called to adoption as the way by which our family would grow, and we have traveled this journey twice in our marriage.  We have two beautiful, extraordinary and wonderful young ladies who we adopted from China - one as a healthy infant referral and one as a waiting child/older child referral.  They are our whole world.  Madeline, now 8,  was our first child, adopted at 8 months old.  She changed our world, made us parents, is the greatest blessing we have ever known.  She is extremely talented in everything she sets her hand to (makes me jealous, in a good way...I wish I had one ounce of the talent she has), is a successful competitive figure skater, she is exceptionally bright and the absolute love of our lives.  She was the sole center of our world until one fateful day.......

Our second adoption story for our oldest daughter is, to me, one of the most beautiful stories of redemption I've ever known and would not have been possible without AAC!

That one fateful day in 2010, while taking a lunch break, I was looking on a website for a friend who was considering a child to adopt, and she had asked me to look at his profile and give my opinion. After I did that, I was looking around at all of the precious kids available for adoption. Not searching for anything in particular, then... WHAM!!!...there she was! 

This gorgeous young lady with an infectious smile who instantly stole my heart. She was 13 years old. What?? A teenager?? WHAT AM I THINKING?? How would my hubby react? How would my little 3 year old react? But there was something about her. I went back multiple times during that day just to see her face. Finally before heading home, I printed off her profile and picture to take it home. I knew we were NOT in a place financially to even remotely be thinking of pursuing another adoption. But, I couldn't get away from the feeling of "there is my daughter" each time I looked at her face.

So I took a chance during dinner and I told my husband and daughter that I had something to talk to them about. I didn't say anything at first but just showed them her picture. Immediately my husband knew. He just said, "You want to adopt her, don't you?" My (then 3 year old) daughter just said, "Oh, she's beautiful!" So hubby suggested loading up and going to the coffee shop so we could get wifi (yes, we lived in the boondocks and didn't have wifi at our house yet) and could request more information. AAC sent us her preliminary information. That was it. We. Just. Knew.  We submitted our intent to adopt and requested her file the very next day. After gaining approval, we found out that multiple families had inquired about her with intent to pursue but we were first. When I think of how close we were to not getting approval for her first, it makes me want to cry.

So, 362 days later, we were in China meeting our daughter for the first time. 

This scared, shy, quiet, but beautiful and sweet child became our daughter, sharing the same "Gotcha Day" as our youngest daughter, only 4 years apart. Both on May 9th...Madeline in 2007 and Piper in 2011. Instant sisters from the same province, originally from cities 3 hours apart...beautiful girls who completed our family. We couldn't have asked for more.

Today, our 8 year old and 16 year old are the best of friends in spite of their age difference, the sweetest of sisters, and the most precious girls any parents could ever ask for. 

Three years after bringing her home, despite having to learn a new culture, new language, and new family at an older age, Piper is so outgoing, loving, willing to try new things, has a heart of gold, is passionate about pursing her dreams in art & graphic design, is finding all her hidden talents, and is one of the most genuine people I've ever had the honor of knowing. 

Adoption has changed our lives just as much as it's changed their lives. We are all grateful for each other. I thank God that I "by chance" ran across her picture that fateful day. I'm so thankful that my husband didn't "shoot me down" when I showed him her picture, knowing that natural circumstances prevented us from another adoption journey, and that adopting a teen would be considered by everyone we know to be "risky".  I am so thankful that God used our family to bring redemption to this child who never knew the love of a family until three years ago. I am so thankful to God, friends, family, and strangers, who helped us along the journey and made an impossible situation, possible. I am so thankful that we took that step of faith, not knowing how we would do it, but trusting wholly that she was meant to be our daughter. 

And now, we have not just one, but two girls who are the center of our worlds.

They brighten each and every day.  No, it hasn't been all moonlight & roses...there have been challenges...but we are a family...and family never gives up on each other.  We feel privileged to be their parents, to walk this journey called life with them, and to show them that no matter what their past is or how their lives began, we will always be a family...we will always be here for them...we will always be their biggest cheerleaders...and we will love them completely...until the day after forever.

If there is one thing I could say to encourage someone thinking that they can't afford adoption, or are hesitant about older child adoption, it would be to not let circumstances or fear rob you of something that could change your life in ways you never thought possible. God will show up in the most unexpected and miraculous ways!!  

~Teri Cardwell
Dallas, TX

Remember this....not everyone may be called to adopt...but everyone can do something for orphans and orphan care!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

National Adoption Month

Hi all!  Did you know that November is National Adoption Month?  This celebration started in 1976 when the governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis announced an adoption week to promote awareness of children in need of loving families.  In 1984 President Ronald Reagan declared the first national adoption week, and in 1995 President Clinton expanded the celebration so that the initiative would continue for the entire month of November.  Ever since, organizations all over the United States who focus on orphan care increase their efforts for four weeks, working to spread the word about the millions of children around the world without a family to call their own.

AAC will be participating in this celebration in a number of ways.  One thing we will be doing is sharing stories of families who have grown through the miracle of adoption.  Every Wednesday, we will post a new story.  We will also offer you a few opportunities to get involved as well.  We hope that you will follow our blog throughout the month and join us in making a difference in the lives of the children who wait for their forever families to find them.

Come back tomorrow and check out the story of the Cardwell family.  As a mother shares her journey to her daughters,  these two gorgeous girls.