Adoption Is How We Have Our Family
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After meeting a family who adopted from China at an EVOLVE information session, Lisa and Jeramie started their international adoption journey.
Lisa and Jeramie brought home their first child, Olivia, in August of 2005. Traveling with a group of families to southern China, the couple stayed in-country for two weeks. After arriving home, Lisa and Jeramie knew they wanted to adopt again. Immediately, they started the paperwork.
“Susannah, our social worker, encouraged us to slow down and wait six months before jumping into this process again,” shared Lisa. “I definitely didn’t listen to her advice!” Lisa looks back on this moment humorously. Her and Jeramie couldn’t want to continue their parenting journey!
Lisa and Jeramie turned in their paperwork as soon as they could. However, after learning of increased wait times, they decided to look at other options. After deciding they had the capacity to parent a child with special needs, Lisa and Jeramie re-submitted their paperwork and were told the wait would be 6-8 months.
“We hadn’t even told Susannah about what we did before we got a referral,” Jeramie recalled getting a phone call just ten days later.
The family received a referral for a baby boy with a Cleft Palate. This time, Lisa and Jeramie traveled to China with just one other family. Traveling to the little boy’s birth place in Northern China, they met their son, Reid.
“At the end of every adoption trip in China, you go to Guangzhou and meet that the US Embassy. It’s a somber and emotional event and Ried screamed his head off the entire time,” Lisa remembers being distraught at the time, “it was a challenge at the time, but I laugh about it now.” Once home, Reid struggled with attachment like many other adopted children. “It wasn’t until 18 months he recognized me as his mother,” said the mother.
“This was so incredibly hard. He would let me hold him but he didn’t receive comfort from my touch. He also was scared to go to sleep. I would walk in circles around his little room singing songs until he would fall asleep.” Lisa shared that for a short period of time, the only way he would go to sleep was for Lisa to drive around the city in the dark. “We would listen to lullabies in the car and drive around a lake.”
Lisa shared that it was difficult to find resources to help her understand what was happening with her new son. “I attended HOPE’s parent support group, read what I could find on the internet, and in adoption related books. We also saw the counselor at the University of Minnesota International Medicine Clinic. Because we live in a small town and there weren’t any other adoptive parents at the time, it was a lonely time. I didn’t have that group of Moms sharing similar experiences that I really hoped for and quite honestly needed. Looking back, I can see clearly what I did that was helpful in fostering attachment.”
Now in 6th grade and 8th grade, Reid and Olivia had the chance to visit China on a ‘Heritage Tour’, and also got to visit where they were born. Lisa and Jeramie shared that although they had always planned to do this, it fell into place just a few months ago and is the perfect time to go.
The family spent 14 days in China seeing the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and so many other amazing sites. The family spend a night with a host family in a small town where they took cooking classes, learned how to write Chinese Calligraphy, rode the bullet train, and even traveled in a sleeper train.
“At the end of the trip we spent time in Olivia’s birth city. We met the past and present orphanage directors who could tell us about Olivia. They remembered her as a baby and could tell us why they chose the name they did. We were able to see her file and received a baby picture we hadn’t seen before. We also spent time in Reid’s birth city and met the orphanage director, Reid’s foster family, and saw his finding place,” shared Lisa.
Lisa and Jeramie felt that this trip was so important for their children.
“To all of the Chinese adopted parents: If you are able to visit China, please do so. It felt like the history was fading when we were there. The director of Olivia’s orphanage had retired and we were fortunate to have a guide who helped us to track her down from a business card I had saved. She was able to give us so many details of what orphanage life was like when Olivia was there.”
With the trip came heavy emotions. “I would recommend there be lots of discussion before the trip in preparation. There is a great book, “From home to homeland. What adoptive families need to know before making a return trip to China” by Debra Jacobs, Iris Chin Ponte, and Leslie Kim Wang that I found helpful,” shared Lisa. She also shared that her and her daughter are reading the book, The Primal Wound. Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Newton Verrier.
The Naser family is grateful for the opportunity to visit China, “Adoption is how we have our family, it’s how we became a family.”