Sunday, March 30, 2008

Adopting Daniela

For several years my wife and I had talked about adoption.  She was adopted, so it has always been on our minds.  We've had many brief discussions about it over the past 5 years, but they never went beyond casual talk.

On Sunday, May 27th, I was coming home from work at 7:00 in the morning.  I was listening to a radio show, discussing international adoption.  It intrigued me, and I had this nagging feeling, that I needed to bring up the topic again.  When I got home, I told Tina what I'd heard, and that I think it's time for us to make a decision... either we will, or we won't adopt.  I told her, it is something that I would like to do.  She wanted to also.

It didn't take long for us to decide what country to adopt from.  We'd been long time sponsors of children in the Dominican Republic through Compassion International.  Haiti, and the Dominican Republic are both on the island of HispaƱola.  We've seen children in the DR living in suffocating poverty.  We've also learned that Haiti is 5 times poorer than the DR.  Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  We decided that Haiti would be a good country to adopt from.

We began searching for an orphanage, and eventually settled on a care facility, where the main goal is to take in sick children, and get them well.  They want to keep families together whenever possible.  When a child in their care has no family that is able to care for her, they work with an orphanage to handle the adoption.
Daniela was born on February 19, 2007.  Her mother was very ill, with a fever so Daniela was not permitted to nurse.  Her mother passed away not long after Daniela was born, and her aunt and uncle (below) did the best they could to care for her. 

Unfortunately, Daniela didn't do well, and in desperation, they took her to the orphanage when she was 3 months old, and weighed 3.5 pounds.

Daniela was brought to this place on June 4, 2007, just days after we had decided to adopt.  She was not available for adoption, but was listed as "status to be determined."  It was noted that her aunt and uncle love her very much, and were trying to decide if they would be able to care for her.

This is the first photo (below) we saw of her, from June 4th.  We completed our application to adopt, and sent it in on our 19th anniversary, June 11.   We spent the next few months getting our dossier put together.  There are many steps, including a psychological exam, home study, medical exam, letters of recommendation, and many other documents.  
During those months, I knew Daniela would some day be our daughter.

We could not receive a referral of a child until our dossier was submitted.  Fortunately we completed our dossier right at the same time as Daniela became available for adoption.  Her aunt uncle had made the very difficult decision, that they would not be able to care for her.

Since last fall, our lives have been a roller coaster.  Her files had been sent to Port au Prince to start the adoption process in December.  In February 2008 we learned that her file had been lost.  We also learned that some families had recently been turned away, because they already have children.  Haiti is considering allowing only childless families to adopt from their country.

In March Daniela entered IBESR, which is the first step of the adoption process.  We don't know how things will go, but we do believe she is our daughter, and will be home with us some day.

We are looking forward to meeting Daniela in person for the first time very soon.  She's come a long way in the past year, and so have we.