Our journey began three years ago when we decided to adopt from China. We had put off having children until were were in a position to provide a good home. Lisa’s sister , who had already started her China adoption process, shared her experience with us, and we felt like this was a good way for us to begin.
After six months of beginning to assemble a dossier for China, we became discouraged by the wait times and decided that adopting a child from Mongolia may be a better option. After much time and expense, our agency sent our completed dossier to Mongolia. Many months passed without much information. Then, one night, we were told that our agency would no longer be handling adoptions in Mongolia.
It was hard to describe how we felt at the time–stunned, depressed.
Three months later we realized that we still wanted to have a little girl, and our hearts were set on a toddler. We considered domestic adoption, investigated it with our social worker and came to the realization that we could adopt an infant, but there would be many unknowns.
After considering this for a time, we decided that we wanted to adopt a young girl with minor special needs from China. We were told that the wait times for these children are much shorter. After all of this time we had come full circle! Deciding on the needs that we were willing to accept for our family was not easy. After much deliberation and investigation, we informed Holt that a child with bilateral or unilateral cleft lip and palate would be a good fit for our family.
Our referral came through in record time! When we finally arrived in China, our guide took us to the Social Welfare office to meet Kate and have the “hand off”. Of course we had seen many heart warming hand offs on the Internet, but ours was a little different. Lisa and I were all tears of joy to meet “Chun-Chun” (pronounced Chew-in-Chew-in). She, however, wanted nothing to do with us. She wailed each time someone pointed to us and said “Ba-Ba, Ma-Ma”. Finally, I took her in my lap and tried to console her. She just went limp and wailed at the ceiling.
The next two weeks really put Lisa and me to the test. There were many tears, and we felt really inadequate…but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Today Kate is a vivacious little girl. She gives us hugs and kisses, whispers very important things in our ears, swims like a fish, and surprises us with entire sentences in English. She has to watch “Cinderella” every day and tells me: “No, that’s not a monkey in the mirror. That’s Kate!”
–Gary and Lisa Falkenberg