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Our Adoption Story

December 31st, 2013

By: Amanda Strain

July 29, 2009. Daddy prayed, Micah put on the stamps, Mommy prepared the papers. We all gave the envelope a kiss. Now we were officially waiting for you.  ~from my adoption journal

My husband, Troy, and I have not taken a typical road to growing our family. Our journey has been full of both pain and joy. Following seven years of marriage, five years of unexplained infertility and the loss of a daughter through an uncompleted adoption, we were gifted with our son, Micah, through a domestic, private adoption. Three years and a cross-country move later, we decided to adopt again. This time we chose to adopt from Haiti.

On that July afternoon, I never imagined what the next three years would hold. Six months later, on January 8, 2010, our first step in the adoption journey was complete. Our Home Study (an in-depth investigation of every part of our lives) and government documents had arrived on the desk of the Alberta Government. We were so thrilled to have made this significant step and were excited about what was to come next.

On January 12, 2010, I received a call from a friend. “Did you hear about the earthquake in Haiti?” she asked. That was the beginning of weeks of watching the news and following the blog of our orphanage. Although we had not received a proposal (a Proposal or Referral is a match between adoptive family a specific child), we felt deeply that our child to be was there, or at the very least, his or her family was there suffering. As a result of that devastating disaster, it was not until November 20, 2010, that we began the process all over again. All of our documentation had become stale-dated and was no longer valid. (Not only did this mean more time, it also meant more expense, which filled us with frustration.) It was with great trepidation that we began again. Many people had told us to give up on Haiti including people within the adoption community. Try a country that has an established process. Who knows when or if Haiti will ever be able to process international adoptions again? We couldn’t. I even wanted to. I wanted to give up and say “forget it”. But we just couldn’t quit. Somehow, for some reason, we knew that our child was in Haiti and that we had to keep moving towards him or her.

It was not until October of 2011 that we were finally taking a new step in the process. Our dossier (which includes Home Study, photographs, medical documents, police record checks and multiple other documents in both French and English) finally left for Haiti on May 22, 2012 and arrived at the orphanage (God’s Littlest Angels - www.godslittlestangelsinhaiti.org) on July 24, 2012.

Finally we were no longer waiting for a paper or signature; we were waiting for a proposal – a name and a face. Who would this person be? Since the beginning of the process, Micah has called this child-to-be “Haiti Baby”. We longed to know our Haiti Baby. We ached to see the face of our child who we had waited for so long.

On September 20, 2012, we got the call and headed in to receive our proposal. On Monday, September 24, after the mandated doctor’s appointments and days of thinking and praying, we said yes to our Haiti Baby. A tiny wee angel, beautiful, precious and perfect. Our girl (who we would name) Eleanor was 10 months old and had Down Syndrome. Our lives were changed on that day. We called our friends and family, gathered those nearby in our kitchen and announced the pending arrival of our long awaited child. It was a night of tearful celebration. Our Haiti Baby had changed us in more ways than we could ever have anticipated.

On November 10, 2012, we had a birthday party-fundraiser for our tiny one year old (she was 12 pounds and 24 inches on her first birthday). We sold Catfish Coffee (www.catfishcoffee.com) to raise money to help us with the growing expenses of the adoption, ate cake, and celebrated our girl. It was a day that we had waited for for so long.

Our journey is not over yet. Eleanor’s dossier is in process in the Haitian Government system. We do not know when we can go get her. We will have to go to Haiti twice as per Haitian law. This time of waiting is bitter-sweet. I am so happy to know who my child is, but being without her, having her birthday party in her absence, saying her same and seeing her growing and changing before I have even held her in my arms, is one of the most painful things I have experiences in this journey.

So now we wait. I will paint her room, set up her crib and scour Pinterest for DIY projects in Coral and Aqua. But mostly I wait. I wait to hold her in my arms and to watch her play with her big brother, to see her already protective daddy introduce her to friends and family. I will hope for the process to be smooth and speedy and wait for the day that my family is all together.

WHY HAITI?

The first step in an international adoption is to choose a country. Troy and I believe that the need is as great as the life of one child. How can you choose one country over another or one child over another?

We chose Haiti for a number of reasons. Haiti is classified as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Prior to the 2010 earthquake (when we were choosing our country) UNICEF estimated that there were 380,000 orphans in Haiti. Now it is believed that that number has doubled to approximately 760,000. The plight of orphans in Haiti is dire; we wanted to make a difference for just one.

 

INFERTILITY AND ADOPTION

As a woman who has walked the road of infertility for the last 11 years, I feel a distinct privilege and obligation to be the voice for those who are unable to have biological children. If you know and love someone suffering from infertility, here are a couple of thoughts that may help you care for them with keener insight.

•           Not every infertility journey looks the same. Don’t assume what will and will not upset them. For example, I have had more than one friend call me up and say, “I am sorry to tell you this, but I’m pregnant.” I was far more hurt by their assumption that I would not be happy for them than by their ability to conceive.

•           Adoption does not cure infertility. Yes, as an adoptive parent I am overjoyed to be my son’s and daughter’s mother. However, that does not remove the grief of being unable to procreate. Infertility isn’t something that I get over when I adopt a child; it is something I grieve and something that becomes a part of who I am. It forms me and changes me, hopefully developing strength of character, deepened self-awareness and empathy…but I won’t get over it.

147 MILLION ORPHANS, 147,000,000 CHILDREN WITHOUT A FAMILY

Statistics tell us that there are approximately 147 million orphans in the world. 147 MILLION. Let that number sink in a bit. Stats Canada counts the population of Canada (in 2011) at 34,482,799 people. For many of us, that sort of statistic demands action.

What can you do for the 147 million orphans in the world?

            - Is adoption right for you? Perhaps there is room in your family for an orphaned child.

            - If not adoption, then perhaps investment with both time and finance in an organization that cares for orphans. There are so many people and agencies that need support to care for orphans across the world.

            - Maybe you can help change the number to 147 million minus one. Perhaps you know of someone adopting that could use your financial and emotional support. International adoption can cost more than $15,000 - $35,000 (it varies from country to country); often cost is a deciding factor for a family who would like to adopt but cannot afford it. Perhaps you have the resources to help one child find a family.

Amanda Strain lives in Fort Saskatchewan with her husband Troy and son Micah.  She works part time for a local Supported Independent Living program. When she is not working on her Masters she is often found baking, writing letters the old fashioned way, or reading a

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