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Adoption autobiography

Posted Sep 12 2007 12:00am

Our home study requires both John and myself to write an autobiography detailing a long list of "life events". The entire document is quite lengthy, but I thought I would include some excerpts from my own autobiography -- finally submitted last week. Please remember that this was written for our home study and for us personally -- not originally to be shared. But here it is, nonetheless.

Growing up in South Florida as the oldest of two children, I had a fairly “storybook” like life. I was raised in a good Christian home. I attended a good Christian school. My parents were good Christian parents. My brother Keith, who was two years younger than myself was a typical younger brother. However, despite our normal sibling disagreements, we were both good kids that refrained from getting into any “real” trouble through adolescence. I feel unbelievably blessed to have been raised in the home that I was. I learned the value of money and quality time. Today I am incredibly close with my parents, my brother, and his wife.

My parents were foster parents themselves, and my little brother “John” is still someone I look back on with fond memories. In addition, we had a young African American mother and her daughter move in with us for an extended period of time while they tried to get back on their feet financially. I remember my brother and I willingly shared a room during this time without question. I was instilled with the value system that as Christians, we should care for the widows and the orphans. As John and I married, we also willingly opened our home to those who have fallen on difficult times. We learned to never turn people away.

My husband John (whom I call “JB”), meanwhile, was growing up in a very similar environment. The second oldest of six children, his family was also living in a house filled with love and the Lord. In fact, it was at that good Christian school that we met. While I was actually in the third grade when he first transferred to Fort Lauderdale Christian School, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I talked him into falling in love with me. He was a year older and his graduation took him to a nearby technical college on a full scholarship. We continued to date while he pursued a career as a graphic designer.

I grew up surrounded by athletics and had my pick of colleges and universities to attend on either a basketball, volleyball, or combination scholarship. I settled on basketball at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After my second year of college, John was awarded his Associates Degree and decided to move to Kentucky so that we could end our long distance dating. He drove to Kentucky with what fit in his car and one month’s rent. He quickly found a job as a graphic designer for a local design firm.

Before my senior year of college, we decided to get married. We had been dating over four years at that point and despite our young ages (21 and 22), we had no doubt that we had found the perfect life partner. We had a modest wedding in Kentucky and settled into a comfy townhouse.

Over the next five years, our lives would go through a substantial number of changes. I took a job teaching high school English and journalism and coaching basketball and volleyball at a public high school about 30 miles from Bowling Green. A year later, we decided to move to that tiny town of 8,000 to eliminate my commute. The business John worked for went bankrupt, and he decided to open up his own graphic design business out of our home. He also made the decision during this time to go back to school while running his business. In 2003, he would be accepted at the prestigious Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, and we would move there so that he could pursue his dream of becoming a physician. He would also be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force – a reverse GI bill of sorts that would pay for medical school.

We moved together to Rochester, Minnesota in 2003. I took a job teaching and coaching again while John began medical school. In 2004, I decided to change careers and began writing and editing for a non-profit organization and a cardiovascular researcher at the Mayo Clinic.

In June of 2007, we moved to Eglin Air Force Base in northern Florida. My husband began his internship in family medicine. I continue to work for the same two companies from my home. I work full-time writing and editing.

Both John and I are in very good health. My only health issues have been related to our infertility. I was diagnosed with PCOS and any medication I have taken was related to attempting to correct this problem or pursue infertility treatments.

I am unbelievably blessed with the husband the Lord picked out for me. John is my best friend. We have a wonderful and healthy marriage and enjoy spending time together immensely. I would not change my spouse for anything in the world. Quite honestly, the biggest conflict we have had during our nine years of marriage surrounded adoption. I felt I was ready to adopt only a year or two after we started infertility treatments. John did not feel I was ready for this. We handled this disagreement the way we always do – choosing to move forward only when both parties are on the same page. We meet in prayer and just asked the Lord to bring us to the same point at the same time. We had no doubt that He would do that.

I am, without question, incredibly satisfied with my marriage. I view marriage as a forever thing, and there is no doubt that John and I are together “until death do us part.”

It was in Minnesota, however, that our marriage and very being as Christians was shaken to the core. John and I had, quite honestly, had a life that went exactly according to plan. We married our high school sweetheart. We both were awarded full college scholarships. Despite some rough times financially during our first two years of marriage, we were completely debt free and enjoyed opportunities never available to us as children. Our relationship, our marriage, our college, our jobs, our lives . . . had gone very smoothly, and we considered ourselves truly blessed. We loved each other deeply and were the best of friends.

But it was in Minnesota that we decided it was time to start our family. And it was when we decided to start our family that we realized our life wasn’t going to take the direction we had envisioned. We spent the next four years in doctors’ offices dealing with the infertility. Five artificial inseminations, four attempts at IVF, and thousands upon thousands of dollars later, we were no closer to the family we had always dreamed of.

John and I had often talked of adoption. Even prior to our infertility diagnosis and prior to our marriage, we had shared the dream that we wanted to fill our house with children that didn’t have a home. We always said they could be any race that the Lord wanted. We dreamed of a big farm where we could give a home to children who didn’t have one. However, neither of us envisioned that that home would only include adopted and fostered children. We always thought our own biological children would also fill our home.

As the infertility journey pushed onward, we spoke of adoption periodically, but still had the idea that it was a “Plan B” – something that should be pursued after we had our own children.

During the spring of 2007, John and I made plans to go to Nigeria for a four week mission trip. It was during the preparations for this trip and during our time in Africa that we realized adoption was not “Plan B”. Adoption was Plan A! We both realized that we could love a child unconditionally even if they were not our child biologically. And we could accept the fact that our home many not include biological children. We continue to pray that we may someday be blessed with a biological child as well; however, we believe that all of our children will be loved equally no matter whose womb they grew in.

As we started discussing where we should adopt from, we never really considered domestic adoption. Growing up in South Florida, we were used to a melting pot of cultures. John’s family was the only Caucasian family on his block. My family went to an extremely diverse church and all of my friends at church were a conglomeration of races. We also knew that white children were in very high demand. There were so many couples that were intent on only adopting white children. We both felt like we should “save” the white children for couples that wouldn’t adopt any others. We, on the other hand, were quite okay with children who didn’t look like us. We had very dear friends in Minnesota who were a mixed race couple: he was born in India, and she was white. We would watch their daughter once a week while they attended foster parenting classes. One night, while Karuna was sitting on JB’s lap, passing gas and laughing hysterically, we both looked at each other at the same time, acknowledging that if this were our daughter, we could fall in love with her without question – despite the fact that she looked nothing like us and was not related to us biologically.

The next step in our adoption journey was picking an agency. I had heard about Steven Curtis Chapman and his adoptions through America World early on in our infertility journey. One stop on their webpage and I knew this was where we should go. John felt the same way. It was an instantaneous “perfect fit” for us. Once we picked America World, we then decided to pick the country we would like to adopt through. Our decision to go with China was two-fold. One, we liked the idea of adopting through a country that had done this many times – a country that might decrease the risks of facing a disappointment. We also thought that adopting through China would allow us to more easily find other couples and families who had “done this before” and could support us with advice and encouragement. In the future, we hope to adopt through other countries, however, we thought that China would be a good first step in our inclusion of other cultures into our family.

It is actually our hope that through the support of other people who have previously adopted through China, that we will be able to find support and encouragement for potential issues that may arise with our daughter. We want to present our daughter with a love for both her new culture and the culture she was born into. John and I love to travel! We have been to Africa and to Europe and all but a few of the continental United States. We have always been intrigued and fascinated by how “other people” live and the beauty of their country. We have no doubt that we will return to China with our daughter at some point in the future.

We have only been in Florida for a few months but have already been connected with two different families who have traveled similar roads. We have found a support group in the area as well and an online discussion forum. I believe that if we seek out the proper advice and encouragement, we will be able to successfully navigate the adoption concerns that may emerge. We know there will be “issues”, but we believe that while we don’t know what we are getting, we wouldn’t know what we were getting with our biological child either. We must just trust the Lord and walk one step at a time.

Both John and I have extensive experience with children. John was the second oldest of six children. In fact, he was sixteen when his youngest brother Rob was born. He jokes that he has changed more diapers than any father in America. I think this is probably true.

I grew up around children. I babysat extensively and worked in the nursery at church every week. Everyone who knew me called me the “mother hen”. I talked often about my life goals: to be a wife and a mom. That’s all I have ever wanted to be. John and I actually “fell in love” working at a summer camp together. We also have, subsequently, watched all of our friends begin starting their families. While we know we have a lot to learn, we know that we will be very good parents.

John and I feel that we can offer a child a fantastic home. In June, we relocated to a new community in northern Florida. We now live in a 1500 square foot, 3 bedroom home with a yard, and plenty of room for children on Eglin Air Force Base – a community that is extremely safe and guarded. We have one little puppy, a Dalmatian we call “Scrubs”, that we purposely purchased now, so we could train him well prior to the arrival of our daughter. We have friends throughout our neighborhood. We recently found a church we believe we will call home as long as we are here in Florida. One of the main things we loved about this church was all the internationally adopted children in the mix. At least five families, including the pastor and his wife, have adopted children of another race. And this is a small church of only a few hundred. As this is a military community, there is a large amount of diversity. There is also a large Asian culture as many military men have found their spouses overseas. We are not sure how long we will be a part of the military. John’s commitment will be at least through 2011. This will mean at least two more significant moves. However, we feel that the military community will be the perfect community to support our family and the daughter we hope to have join our community.

We are more excited that words could express to meet our daughter and to be parents at last. We know that we will blessed and our daughter will be blessed, and we cannot wait to meet her.

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