|First Moments With My Children|
Over the last few years I have been asked this question time and time again "why did you adopt if you can have birth children?" When I first decided to adopt I thought this was a strange question for people to ask me. Adoption, in my case, was natural. It was never a question of why or should I adopt. I just somehow always knew that I would have adopted children. I guess the idea of adoption came to me at an early age. I was about nine years old and that's when I really started to learn about some of the sad realities of the world. I remember watching a documentary about orphans in Romania. I was devastated, I could not believe that there where so many children in the world homeless, hungry and yearning for love. It didn't make sense to me. I knew so many families with empty rooms in their houses and plenty of food to go around. Even my own family had plenty of room and love to share. From that point forward I feel God spoke to my heart and I just knew that I would adopt my children someday.
|Kids at orphanage|
Those of you that know me know that my teen years where a little rough. Not many people would have labeled
|My Son today|
me as an angel unless maybe they where talking about dark angels. Yes, I was what you would call a rebellious teen. You may be wondering why that is relevant to this story. Well, lets just say my out of control behavior lead me to my future. When I was 17 I got pregnant with my first child. Oh yes, I was a teen mom, which back then did not make you famous. Hypocritical, you may think because I am the same little girl that wanted to save the orphans of the world! Yes, I know that's a little dramatic but that is how I felt. All I can say is God had a plan and sometimes the road to the future is a little bumpy. My first child saved me from a life that was not meant for me and lead me to my future. Becoming a mother changed me and I became focused on my purpose. When I was 22 I had my second child and she was planned. At 22 I now had two beautiful children but my heart still felt a little empty. The little girl I
once was still lived inside of me and I knew my children were still out there, somewhere. After I had my beautiful daughter I started to research adoption. At the age of 24 I started the adoption process. This is when family and friends started to tell me I was crazy and were about to disown me. I got lectured countless times about how I was to young and I already had two kids. Than, the biggest argument of them all, I HAVE NO MONEY! Okay, they made a good argument and even looking back on myself now It's hard to believe how it all came together. I was only 24, I was happy, I had a beautiful home and 2 beautiful children and I had NO absolutely NO extra money. My family was living pay check to pay check as most people do in their twenties. Family and friends made a valid case against our family being ready for adoption , but of course I didn't listen. When you know you just know and there really was nothing that could stop me from finding my children. I knew they were out there waiting. What parent would not fight for their child? When I started the process I called a few local agencies told them my story and had to discuss my lack of funds. I explained to them that I did not have the money yet but I will get the money as I go through the process, I got a lot of hang ups. Eventually I found a social worker who believed me, she supported me and for some odd reason did not think I was crazy. (she is now my boss at Triad) She told me she would start the process with me as long as I could pay the home study fee. In the big picture of adoption the home study fee is very little. I sold a few things, took what I had saved and payed the fee to start the process. I still had no idea how I would get the rest of the money but I had faith and knew it would come. After starting the process we choose to adopt from Liberia. Why Liberia, I'll get into that another time. As the process went on, family and friends donated, we had auctions, chili cook offs, garage sales, applied for grants, and took a second mortgage from our home (knowing by the way, that we could pay this loan back with the adoption tax credit or when we sell). It all added up and before I knew it our family was matched with a little girl in Liberia. I was told she was malnourished and very sick. The orphanage asked me to come right away because they did not know if she would survive. I booked my ticket and was ready to leave in a few days from that call. During that time the orphanage also matched us with a 6 year old boy. I called my family and asked them to come over a few nights before I left for Liberia. I told them I have two children waiting for me and I was leaving to go get them in a few days to bring them home. Believe it or not, they were still in shock, they thought this "adoption thing" was just a phase that I would soon get over. My Dad even looked at me and said "are you sure about this, I mean your really going to Africa to adopt two kids, like now?" Understandably so, him and the rest of my family were concerned and scared for me to be going to a country alone that just ended a civil war. I assured them that I would be fine and that "I knew what I was doing." I did, however have a few "come to Jesus moments" while flying over the Atlantic to West Africa, but He gave me strength.
I will never forget the day I met and held my amazingly beautiful children in Liberia. I rode a bus to the orphanage and when I got there the children sang a welcome song for everyone. I searched the crowd wondering which ones were mine and than the moment happened! It felt like the world stopped, my daughters little tiny body was placed in my arms and I cried. Within a few seconds my son walked up to me and hugged me. There I was with my daughter in one arm and my son in the other, these children that I had imagined and dreamed of for so long, and they were real and they were mine. It's hard to explain the feeling but its much like giving birth but even more intense. My first night with my children in Liberia I didn't sleep, I just looked at them in amazement. God gives us the ability to do amazing things in this world but we have to do our part. We have to fight, work hard, and believe that it can happen, even when people say its impossible because God makes it possible. We have to do our part and take action and He will do his part to make it happen. My children are evidence of that because I could have never made it through the adoption process and to the other side of the world without His strength.
Even though my family and friends were skeptical they were still behind me and as soon as I got off the airplane with my little ones in my arms, my family took one second to fall in love. My dad looked at me with tears in his eyes and said " I am so glad you didn't listen to me, you did the right thing." So I hope in some way that this explains why I choose adoption. There are so many more details of this story but honestly I would have to write a book to describe it all. Now I have the amazing opportunity to help others with adoption. I would love to answer any questions you all may have or help with resources if any of you are interested in adopting. All you have to do is take the first step.
|Hospital In US|
|Henry being Americanized|
|Mekella feeding her first bottle|
|Her first smile she starting feeling better|
|big smiles on way to recovery|
|Our first trip to the Movies|
|Our forever family Today|
Watch Video Clips of this process
Written By Julie Butterfield
Special thanks to friends and family
Amy Higgins and Linda Gansler