by Melissa Joy
When we get asked why we chose the way we adopted, we can’t give a clear cut answer other than it’s what worked best for our family at the time. When we started this journey several years ago, it wasn’t the way we thought the journey would go in our minds.
We talked about adoption when we were first married, but soon moved to India. Throughout that time, I worked with street kids at a care center. Our daughter was born shortly thereafter and our son followed the next year. Our kids went with me to the care center where they learned to walk, play legos, drink chai and color. Despite a strong desire to have those amazing kids come stay with us, it was not feasible or legal. Leaving India broke my heart as those are my kids. I think of them all the time. Their stories. How they are doing. Where are they sleeping. And countless other thoughts… But it was these precious kids that built our hearts to adopt from foster care.
Once our third joyful bundle of energy was born, we decided we really wanted to pursue adoption since we had talked about it for so many years. We were heading back to India and thought we would adopt there. We were wrong. We soon had to leave because of visa restrictions. The month we came home we signed up for Foster and Adoption classes with our local Department of Child and Family Services. We knew this was it. It was finally the right timing. Naturally, we felt excited and nervous at the same time. That was just the beginning.
We really had no clue what we were signing up for. Our eyes were opened as were heard countless stories in class of the need here. Although we had started the process in September 2016, it wasn’t until November 2017 that we received an e-mail asking if we would consider a legal risk case for an adoption placement. We read the file and quickly said yes. Having agreed, we were finally introduced to our precious Shiloh in December 2017. She was 2 1/2 at the time and in that moment I realized the pain of adoption; and that this child will grieve as well. Despite our own emotional struggle, we realized that we were also witnessing a child being ripped apart from her family because of no choice of her own. Nevertheless, we had to reconcile this situation in our hearts and minds. I was struck with conflicting emotions—grief and compassion—but also excitement! After all, isn’t this what we had waiting for?! The first visit was supervised at a DCF facility which made it awkward and quiet. Shortly thereafter, we had another supervised visit at a park with all our kids—which went much better other than the fact I accidentally knocked Shiloh off the swing.
The next six weeks we had unsupervised day visits which allowed me to pick up Shiloh from day care at 9:00am and drop her off by 4:30pm. She quickly warmed up to us and felt like our daughter after just a few visits. I’ll never forget the first time she called me “Mama.” The day she was officially removed from her home was horrible. The social worker had to go to court so my husband Jake went to pick her up and brought a friend. Out of concern for the emotional response, I chose not to go. Jake said it was awful. Although Shiloh didn't know what was going on her family certainly did. Jake said afterward that he wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. After the pickup, Jake took her on a daddy daughter date breakfast, just like he does with all our kids to try to make it as normal as possible. We had social worker visits every three weeks until her adoption finalized 92 days later. We have been extremely blessed! Yes, Shiloh knows how to love because she was loved well before. To be sure, that is something we contribute to her extended bio family. Does she have trauma? Yes, some. But she is a strong, confident girl who knows her place in the world. She has a sister who has prayed for her since before she was born and who loves her so well. She has two brothers who will do anything to protect her. And thankfully, Shiloh loves them just as much. One funny coincidence with our adoption is the sequence of their ages. They are a countdown! This past summer they were 6,5,4,and 3. While we were pretty open to anything when it came to adoption (including age), the perfect fit of even her age continually reminds us of the perfect fit she is in our family.