Waiting for Jordyn, a Resilient Little Girl. My Family’s Journey to Adoption. This is My Story.
Throughout my life, I had never actually thought about adoption. I visited an Orphanage in Russia twice in highschool and fell in love with the kids. My heart broke when they called us Mom and Dad for the short time that we were there. However, as a teenager, I had only wished that they would be adopted. Then, something in me began to change.
Before Jordyn came home to us…
Before Jordyn came home to us, It was just my husband Dan, myself and our three sons, Caleb (7), Joshua (5), and Aaron (3) living life in West Chester, PA. Dan is a nurse at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and I am a stay at home mom. A normal day at our house is Dan leaving for work at 5:45am and me waking up around 6:00am. This gives me a little bit of time to read my Bible and throw on some yoga pants in hopes of getting in a workout at some point during the day. Most days, the workout is just running around outside with the boys. The boys tend to wake up between 6:30-7:00am. They hit the ground running and head downstairs for breakfast. By 8:20am we are headed out the door for school. Caleb is in first grade and Josh is in preschool. The morning is full of errands, feeding time, nap time, playdates and more. Then it's time to pick everyone up again, which leads to an afternoon full of more errands, feeding time, play time and then dinner time. After, there's a little more play time, then baths, reading and bed time around 7:45pm. I clean up before Dan gets home around 8:30pm. That's when we sit on the couch with some dark chocolate and tell each other about our days. The good, the bad, and always the funny stuff that happened.
Our family's mission...
I often get asked the question, “why adoption?” and I always answer it differently. I have come to realize that it is because there are so many things that led us to adoption. Dan and I have had close friends that have adopted and we always would say “how nice” that was for them. We would casually say that we may do it one day when our kids were older, but I don't think that either of us really meant it. Back in 2009, I began researching more about human trafficking, modern day slavery and labor camps. When I began hosting parties with a purpose, where I would sell fair trade items and jewelry made by girls rescued from sex trafficking and the sex industry through an organization called, Trade As One. After discovering even more (mostly from International Justice Mission at the time), my eyes were open to what many girls and boys are going through, while my kids were playing most of the day and being loved and provided for by a mom and dad.
My desire to do something had intensified, but there didn't seem to be a practical way for me to do that as a busy stay at home mom. At this point, I was pregnant with my third boy, Aaron. I was done having kids and done being pregnant. But at the end of my pregnancy with him, I started to think seriously about adoption. God was slowly breaking my heart for the things that broke his. Perhaps, our family's mission was to just be a family. After 9 months, and an anniversary s'mores date night, Dan and I knew, there was no turning back. We were going to pursue adoption. We didn't decide on a gender until we were in the middle of our first home study visit. We have 3 boys, so adding another boy to the mix seemed natural and honestly a lot easier. But, it was also nice to think about having a little girl in our family. Therefore, we decided on a little girl from Ethiopia as the newest addition to the Videon's household.
Waiting for Jordyn...
In January 2012 we started the adoption paperwork and our dossier got to Ethiopia in April of 2012. We had been on the waiting list for about a year. The adoption itself felt like being pregnant, but without a due date! There moments of excitement and moments where it just feels long and you want it to be over. Either way, it was important to use the waiting time wisely. We went into the process knowing that it would be long and so waiting is usually filled with lots of research, book reading, fundraising, talking to others who have adopted, learning about your child's country, and preparing your current children (as much as you can) for another sibling.
Waiting for Jordyn was extremely difficult. We were originally told that we would get a referral of a child 6-9 months after our dossier got to Ethiopia. It had now been 12 months. It was as if I had been 3 months past my pregnancy due date. My heart longed to know who this child is and to begin the bonding process. I wanted her to be a part of our family and to begin our “new normal” together.
Choosing the right agency...
When you first decide to adopt, you have to decide if you want to adopt domestically or internationally. We chose international, and with that, you must make sure that you “qualify” for the country that you are interested in. While we felt called to adoption, we had no clue what country we were going to pursue. Most of the countries we thought of, we didn’t qualify for. Therefore, we narrowed our options to China Special Needs and Ethiopia. When we looked more into Ethiopia we saw the need for children there and fell in love with the people and culture. The adoption process was through the agency Lifeline Children's Services. I did a lot of research before choosing them and loved them. They are an amazing Christian agency who prays often for each family and calls regularly to check in. Choosing the right agency is so important in the long adoption process. There is also a lot of paperwork involved, especially in the beginning, and they were extremely helpful and encouraging during that time.
The cost of an adoption can be daunting. I believe that’s why so many people don’t pursue it. Money should never let anyone who desires to adopt, stand in their way. There many people out there that have been blessed financially but do not feel called to adoption, but are more than willing to help another family with the initial finances involved. An international adoption is typically between $30,ooo-$40,000. We didn’t have that money in our back pockets when we began. We only had enough to apply and pay for some of the initial fees. Along the way, we have had 2 yard sales that brought in a total of $2,500+ and have also received a matching grant for $2,500 through Lifesong for Orphans. Friends and family graciously donated tax deductible donations to our family's fund that would later be used to accept our referral of a child when we were called. We still had some money to raise and planned on applying for more grants and another fundraiser. We also needed about $10,000 for travel expenses to Ethiopia two times.
The negative feedback hurt the most. Some friends and close family did not agree with our decision. They believed we were going to be putting our biological kids in a hard situation socially by adopting a child from another country and with another skin tone. However, it never made us question our decision for even a moment. Every time someone would ask us a “why?” question, we would just ask them, “why not?” That had been our motto during the whole process. It was challenging because of the doubt we have faced from people close to us, but also exciting to know that we were doing something that God asked us to do. And even though we understood that hard times were ahead, we also knew that there would be wonderful times for our family as well.
The process made me to step back and really think about why we are here and are on this earth and what I was going to do with the short amount of time I have here? The sacrifices and struggles that we have faced and will face are nothing compared to what orphans have suffered. I couldn't imagine choosing money and free time for myself over a family for a child who may never have one.
Prepare for the unexpected...
If I could offer advice to other moms and moms-to-be, it would be to head into adoption with an open mind and flexibility. One will undoubtedly be met with surprises and unexpected circumstances (delays, lost paperwork, agencies closing, fees increasing, etc). However, if you prepare for the unexpected, you’ll be able to mold to the changes with better ease. I’d also encourage moms to enjoy the waiting time. Write letters to your future child, research his or her country, read parenting / adoption books, pray for the child and birth mom, and cherish the days you have with your family right now.
The best way I found to prepare for this, was by talking with others who have already adopted. They are a great resource and will tell you the good and the bad. Dan and I also read a lot of books as well as a great number of online resources (blogs, websites, facebook pages, etc).
The day we brought Jordyn home…
The day we brought Jordyn home was beautiful. However, the week in Ethiopia when we went to get her was rocky. She was sick with the flu, so was my husband Dan, and I had strep throat. The three of us were sick on our 17.5 hour flight home, only to be greeted with a cancelled flight from DC to Philly. My dad came and picked us up, and we drove home. Our original plan was to have our family and close friends waiting for us at the airport to meet Jordyn, but that was cancelled as well. But, what happened next was amazing: as we pulled into our driveway, we were greeted by our family holding "Welcome Home Jordyn" signs. We had our homecoming, and it was even better and more intimate than our original plan. Dan and I got out of the car to hug our boys and they ran right past us to go meet their sister for the first time. They each gave her a big hug and kiss and wanted to be next to her the rest of the night. Three months later, they are still excited to see her each time she wakes up in the morning or from a nap. It’s incredible how much they loved her even before meeting her. Daily, they express their love for her and happiness, that she will remain in our family forever.
A resilient little girl...
The transition so far has gone well. Jordyn, at only 15 months, has experienced a lot of change and loss. She’s a resilient little girl and we are continually reminding her that she is loved and that we are here for her forever. She isn't going anywhere else. Right now, we are in the process of teaching her what a family is and who Mom and Dad are. Many caretakers have come and gone in her life, and we want her to understand that we are here to take care of her needs and to advocate for her. She doesn't need to fend for herself any more. She has a mommy and daddy that will do all of that for her! This is still a work in progress. She seems to know that we are here for her and knows who to look to when she is hungry or tired, but it will take time to build a strong attachment to us.
When Jordyn came home, she was 11.5 months old and could not bear any weight on her legs or eat solid foods. She was never exposed to these things which made life a little challenging for all of us. She would cry when we stretched out her legs to stand on them and she would gag when we tried to feed her. After a couple of weeks, she was bearing a little bit of weight without crying and slowly she would stand for longer periods of time. Today, 3 months later, she is taking steps on her own. Amazing! As she began to trust us and was exposed to different foods and textures, she started to eat more of a variety. Feedings are still a struggle, but again, she is making progress. We know that she will be behind in many developmental milestones, but we are thankful to see her improve so quickly. It's been a joy to watch her learn new things.
She loves the attention from the boys and snuggles from Dan and me. She also loves being held and we try to do it as much as possible knowing that she missed out on lots of holding and snuggling during her first year. Each night when I put her to bed, I still can't believe that we get to be her Mom and Dad forever. Jordyn is showing us just how powerful love can be in a person's life. She has blessed us so much and we are humbled to be her parents.
Learn more about the Videon's story at Knowledge Causing Action.
From The Editor
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