Family with dog stands outside at a night market and smiles at camera

When Evalyne and Mario started the adoption process for their niece in Thailand, they had no idea that it would take them five years and three trips to Thailand. But now that the process is complete, they have no doubt that it was worth it.

“There were three hurdles to this adoption,” Mario Martinez says. “First, the international adoption process, which involved navigating both Thai and American governments, the second was COVID-19, which complicated the process and the third has been the challenges of full parental guidance while the family remains actively engaged in determining the optimal path for Yada’s present and future, encompassing both her lifestyle and professional aspirations.”

Mario Martinez and his wife, Evalyne Amornchainont, recently completed the adoption of Evalyne’s niece, Yada, who had been born and raised in Thailand. The process took five years, but they are thrilled to have it completed and to finally be united with their niece in the United States!

Yada’s Background

Almost 18 years ago, Evalyne’s brother and his girlfriend found out they were pregnant with a baby girl. Around the same time, both received a sentence of 10 years in prison in Thailand.

So, when Yada was born, her mother had no way to take care of her.

Evalyne was living in the United States at the time — she had immigrated, gone to school and started a successful company.

“I was already in the United States,” Evalyne says. “So my sister was awarded guardianship over Yada and took care of her. I had always wanted to take care of that baby, ever since I learned about her, but I couldn’t at first. It made more sense for my sister to take her.”

But Evalyne stayed in close touch with her family in Thailand. She went home and visited often, watching Yada grow up. When Yada was about 7, her mother was released from prison. Yada got to know her mother, who was thinking about reclaiming custody. But, a few years later, Yada’s mother sadly passed away from cancer.

By this time, Yada was approaching her teenage years. Her father, Evalyne’s brother, had been released from his first prison sentence. But he quickly returned to the same lifestyle and went back to prison. Since then, he has gotten out of prison again and has changed his lifestyle, maintaining close communication with his daughter. However, he feels that he lacks the necessary fatherly parenting skills to raise her. So, he was in favor of Mario and Evalyne adopting Yada. He firmly believes that his daughter’s prospects for success in the U.S. will be significantly enhanced under the care of his sister and Mario.

“As Yada got older, my sister said she wasn’t sure she had the capability to take care of a teenager,” Evalyne says. “I had more ability by that time. Mario and I had gotten married too, so he and I started talked about adopting her. Mario had been in my life for 10 years, he had come with me to visit Thailand several times, so Yada knew him.”

So, in 2016, Evalyne and Mario decided to move forward with adopting Yada. At that point, she was 11 years old.

Complications of Adopting a Relative

Evalyne contacted an adoption center in Thailand. The staff there shared that they had just started working with an organization called Holt International.

The process took an especially long time for Evalyne and Mario because there were two court cases involved. First, the courts had to process Evalyne’s sister relinquishing guardianship of Yada. Then, a second case had to go through for Evalyne and Mario to file for adoption.

In the midst of the second court case, they ran into a snag: Evalyne’s attorney had told them that Mario didn’t need to be on the petition for adoption that they filed with the Thai government. But, Mario’s name was already on the paperwork that they had filed through Holt. So, when all the paperwork got to court, it didn’t match. They had to get Mario retroactively added onto the petition for adoption, which extended the process significantly.

And then, as though they weren’t already experiencing enough complications, the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world in the spring of 2020. The pandemic interrupted international adoptions around the world, including Yada’s.

Adjusting to the Thought of Leaving Thailand

Yada was about 14 at the time. She was interested in life in the United States — but not convinced it was what she wanted. This is a common feature of adopting an older child, for any prospective adoptive parents.

Older children have become more attached to the country of their birth, especially in a situation like Yada’s where she was living with family. Older children are familiar with their birth language and their birth culture; they have friends, interests and a life. Yada went to a private school in Thailand where she had learned English, which helped, but she still struggled with the thought of leaving her home.

“Before, when Yada was young, she really wanted to come to America,” Evalyne says. “But then as she got older, she had more friends and a boyfriend. That made it harder, and for a while she didn’t want to come anymore.”

Yada came to live with Evalyne and Mario for a few months before they adopted her. During that time, she just wanted to go back to Thailand.

This is where some of the family dynamics came into play, in Evalyne and Mario’s view. The whole family supported the idea of Yada coming to the United States, to be able to go to a good college and have the best chance to succeed in life. Everyone told Yada they thought it was a good idea.

“Our whole family thought it was a good idea, and she also saw her dad’s life and wanted to be better,” Evalyne says. “So she made a good decision, I’m proud of her.”

Family with dog stands outside at fair and smiles

Evalyne and Mario brought Yada to their home in Washington state in January 2023, when she was 16 years old.

“The second time she came, once we adopted her, her mindset had changed,” Mario observes. “She saw the value of coming here and going to school. She was ready to be more independent and adopt a new lifestyle.”

Today, Yada is officially an American citizen! She is applying to college and making plans for the future.

A Future For Yada

Evalyne and Mario are glad to have Yada with them, and now she will have the opportunity to go to school in the United States and then decide for herself where she would like to settle for her adult life.

“She’s doing great, she’s adapted well,” Evalyne says. “Yada has been here for almost a year. She’s a senior and works at Starbucks, she drives and I couldn’t be more grateful at how well she is doing. I’m overcome.”

“If there’s any challenges with the whole adoption process — other than it taking forever! — it’s that by the time we got her she was 16 and mostly a fully formed human being,” Mario says. “That’s been the big challenges. But the beauty of it is that she’s a really good kid, she’s self-driven and wants a good career.”

Yada wants to be an entrepreneur and start her own beauty and cosmetic business. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs, and shares their drive! No matter what she decides to do, Evalyne and Mario will love and support her.

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