Archive for the ‘ Special Needs Kids ’ Category

4 Great Reasons to Adopt this Year

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

domestic adoption siblings1. Adopting is, in its essence,  a very selfless thing to do. You’re choosing to love a child—not for biology’s sake — but because you want to tow a child to baseball practice and help him master math, or, in short, be influential and patient to a child you’ve never met before, who will turn your life upside down. Midnight trembles and seasonal coughs, sunscreen for two.

2. Adopting a child can save the world. We want to adopt a child whose chances we immediately, socially and economically improve her life — she can attend kindergarten without becoming victim to famine or a civil war in Ethiopia or the Sudan.

When my family eventually adopts a toddler from another continent, we ensure someone else’s daughter will understand about women’s rights and have a right to vote, and to drive, and to pick her own husband. We lean toward adopting an international daughter from India because so many little girls in Third World countries are sold into prostitution and slavery.

3. Private domestic adoptions are more open, communicative and kinder than ever before. Families can (and often do) sidestep the stigma of adoption to meet and establish initial communications between both families; yearly reunions or monthly letters helps the adopted child with health histories and cultural identity.

4. The average wait time for an domestic adoption of a newborn to baby has decreased to two years or just under. International adoptions still take more time than domestic adoptions due to visa and regulatory immigration issues. But across the board, agencies and federal governments are trying to make it easier to adopt. And more expeditious, too.

Tell me how long it took your family to adopt a child in Comments below.

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Part 1: Adopting a Daughter from Ethiopia

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Our Parents Magazine reader, Marni from Philadelphia, wrote to me about her family’s adoption experience. I hope everyone feels just as inspired about this international adoption as I do!

Marni wrote, ” Our daughter Reby — full name Meskerem — came home from Ethiopia in October. We also have a biological son, Elijah, who will be 4 in May. I’m 30 and my husband Joe is 35.”

After studying several opportunities for international toddler adoption, Marni and her family chose to adopt from Ethiopia for several reasons.  She said, “The government seemed to be doing a better job than most countries of regulating adoptions, especially in a country where there are literally millions of orphans.

We have spent some time in Africa, although not in Ethiopia specifically, and have always felt a tie to the continent. Ethiopians place a high premium on family, tradition, and warmth in the home, which are values that we also hold dear. We were excited to become a multiracial family and to learn more about our daughter’s culture and history, which is so unique.”

How Long Does an Ethiopian Adoption Take?

The length of their paperwork-heavy international adoption took about the average, from all research and estimates I could find, about 26 months total. Marni said, From the time we submitted our initial application to the time that Remy came home for good from Ethiopia, the process was about 26 months.”

Tune in on Friday when Mari describes how long she had to wait to finally hold her toddler daughter, and how heartbreaking it felt to watch the calendar tick by without Remy. Remy and Elijah at right!

Straff Family Update: In many countries abroad, such as India, you may never meet your future child at all until the day you literally pick them up from an orphanage. You receive a photo, often not even an online photo, and you go by that picture , following your heart, for nearly two years. My husband Darrin and I have now narrowed our international search down to India.

More on that next week!

Photo at right: Elijah and Remy her first week home

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International India Adoption Takes 2 Years — Worth It!

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Part 2: Denise Imbesi finally traveled to an orphanage outside Delhi this past summer to finalize adoption proceedings for her 4-year-old daughter Jaya who she had never met or even spoken to — the match was done via photograph!

When Denise walked into the clean and orderly orphanage, she saw over 50 kids crammed into one huge room with everything they own in one small box. Her new daughter was finally led out, looked scared and wearing too-tight clothes and dirty shoes. Jaya was in shock and frightened, she was petrified but she warmed up quickly and she began saying “mama” and she fell asleep in Denise’s arms within 15 minutes of  holding her for the first time.

Denise said, “We found out the hard way Jaya was never potty trained and she began crying, India was overwhelming for her. Jaya was carsick, she’d never been in a car before. The trip home was trying for her but her life is better than it ever could be.

Now it’s been 7 months she came to Florida and Jaya only speaks English! Denise said, “For two months it was difficult but we stuck it out and I had a lot of patience and love for her. We  hugged continuously  for literally months and she always knew she was loved very much.”

Denise said, “My daughter is loving, smart, so happy and amazing. This kid does not cry. She is very healthy and animated and social.”

The new mom also said, “Jaya has been in pre-K since September and she loves it — already has best friends. She is learning the language and how to thrive in the USA. Denise said, “Our food did not agree with her to digestive system and her foundation for nutrition is still beans and Indian lentils, but she tries other food. We go to Indian restaurants each week and she feels immediately at home with the cuisine.

Now I cannot imagine my life without her. Biggest surprise about motherhood? How much time it takes to put her to bed and maintaining the ultra-consistency of her life so she stays calm. We are very happy and loving with her at all times, calm and patient.

ADVICE: These kids need a home and desperately need parental love. Jaya is very bright and happy. I did the best thing! She is mine 100% since this started; I feel like I gave birth to her and I cannot love her more.”

Denise Imbesi is the Founder, CEO and visionary behind the fitness music brand Muscle Mixes Music. Denise co-parents Jaya with her partner of 4 years, Sara Barone and live in Orlando, Florida. Tell me your adoption story here!


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Part 1: Infertility, a Failed Adoption, Heartbreak

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Sometimes there’s an adoption letter you’ll remember forever. This one is from Gary from Missouri who wrote to me last month:

“Your stories of adoption touch my heart in ways you may never imagine. It has taken me a long time to decide to share the story of my Wife and I, and I hope you can read it.”

Gary and wife Marie married in 1981 after falling in love in high School.  At 28 and 26, they began trying to get pregnant and after three years of trying, they sought medical help. Doctor visits led to more doctor visits, specialists were visited, all to no avail.

He wrote, “We tried every procedure available to us, a lot of which was based on financial constraints and insurance coverage. I gave her shots, she took fertility drugs, we tried sperm washing and placing, nothing worked.  Month after month, year after year, the same scenario.  Visit the specialist, perform the latest procedure, go home and wait for the results. The heartbreak month after month became almost too much to bear.

Ten years passed! We  made the decision to stop trying and started looking into adoption.  We visited and registered with three different agencies, and waited.  We went to seminars, workshops, meeting after meeting. We eagerly anticipated the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.  This went on for a couple years.

One night, we received a call from a friend of ours who knew we were in this process. She had a friend with a young daughter who was two months pregnant. We met with the young lady and her parents. They came to our house and she talked of placing her baby for adoption when the time came.

We went through home visits, background checks, court proceedings, more home visits.  Within 6 months, all was accomplished, and a judge’s advocate was assigned to help us. The court system and child welfare agencies all had given us high marks and adoption approval.

We had been in constant contact with the birth mother, and when we gave her the news, she was happy and excited.  We made plans for the birth, and she went into labor. In the waiting area,  we received word that a baby boy had been born.  The nurses brought him to me on the way to the nursery, and I got to hold my new boy.

The next few days are just a blur but we managed to get all the legalities covered, and Marie and I left the hospital , going home with our new baby, Justin Alexander.  The next few days were filled with celebration, and everyone came to meet him.”

Catch up on Friday when we realize the birth mother changes her mind and returns for Justin. They never see him again.

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The Cost of Adoption? More Than Money!

Friday, January 27th, 2012

As you may know by now, my family, who is looking to adopt a female toddler, has veered from searching out international agencies in Asia and Africa to signing up for a domestic adoption and filling out a slew of paperwork with an agency.

We already sat in on a 3-hour foster care “resource family” seminar and we are waiting for our schedule to open up to initiate our 24 hours of “foster parent training” which is mandated by the state of California.

We are also tempted to sit in yet another 3-hour seminar with another country agency because they come so, so highly recommend from you, readers (and friends) of My husband Darrin and I are supposed to start 24 hours of foster parenting classes next week — learning how to communicate as a new family, healing and growing as a team — but I just got offered an amazing consulting job opportunity that will need substantial travel and I’d end up missing too many of those classes.

The Choice: A great job opp or plan for a new kid?

My husband still wants us to attend the foster domestic adoption classes — he is the touchstone for this adoption process and has wanted to adopt more than me from the beginning (FYI).

I feel like this job opportunity is too good to be missed and I almost feel relieved that we can blow off those classes for another few months. (Foster care 24-hour training sessions are offered only quarterly with our particular agency.)

Then I remember: We already blew off the first round of 24-hour training because the timing wasn’t right for our schedule back in May! Darrin thinks I may just be postponing the inevitable: Maybe I am totally not ready to adopt.

I’ve talked to other adoptive parents who said they had to wait for their spouse to be emotionally ready for years, 4, 5, I’ve even heard they waited seven years until one husband could move through the adoption process in a supportive and healthy manner.

So, when will I be ready to adopt?

When will I start yearning for another child the way my husband does, even the way my son keeps talking about a little sister. I do want that for him — but at what cost?

How did you know you were ready to adopt?

Keep me posted, and send your adoption story my way.

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