Adoptive parents eating breakfast with three older siblings adopted from Colombia

Keeping Them Together

Adoptive parents Whitney and Barrett Wilson share what they learned on their journey to adopt three siblings from Colombia — including the support they found in the form of adoption grants that eased their financial burden, and helped keep these close siblings together.

Adoptive parents and three siblings adopted from Colombia smiling

For as long as we’ve been married, we have wanted to adopt children into our family. Our strong longing to adopt comes from our awareness that, as Christians, we are recipients of the greatest adoption — our adoption into God’s family as his son and daughter. We believe adoption is an incredible picture of the Gospel. Doing nothing to earn our salvation, God pursued us when we were helpless and hopeless. God chose us, gave us his name, gave us an eternal inheritance, and asks us to call him “Father.” In response to his great love for us, we want to model His behavior by providing a loving home for children, give them our name, give them everything we have, invite them into our family as our children, and call us “Mom and Dad.”

Although we knew from the beginning of our marriage that we wanted to adopt, we did not originally anticipate adopting a sibling group of children. Like most people wanting to adopt, we envisioned growing our family one child at a time through the adoption of a healthy newborn baby. However, five years into our marriage, we went through the most challenging season of our lives. We found ourselves in the middle of a marriage that was on the verge of ending. By the grace of God, we were loved well during this season by pastors, counselors, and close friends that cared well for us and helped us grow. By working through our own personal wounds and traumas, and how those had caused so much harm within our marriage, we found healing personally and in our marriage. Our marriage became healthier and more secure than it had ever been.

Following this incredibly challenging season, we both felt God calling us to adopt, but in a much different way. While every form of adoption brings challenges, we knew that a sibling group of older children would bring a unique set of needs that could include educational difficulties, developmental delays, attachment obstacles, and a history of trauma, abuse or neglect. However, after walking through our own journeys of healing, we felt equipped to support the potential needs that come with the adoption of a sibling group.  

smiling adoptive parents holding son adopted from thailand and baby girl

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Once we knew that adopting a sibling group was the best direction for our family, we began researching the countries and agencies that most aligned with our desires. We were overwhelmed with joy to discover that Colombia was the most highly recommended country from which to adopt sibling groups. Our desire to adopt from Colombia stems from our love and closeness with the general Hispanic community. Through home and business ownership, we have purposefully positioned our lives to be heavily involved within the Hispanic community here in our city of Nashville, TN. The patients who visit the bilingual dental practice we own is roughly 70 percent Hispanic, and the Hispanic population is nearly 60 percent of the neighborhood elementary school that our children will eventually attend. Additionally, there are many Hispanic families that live on our street and in our neighborhood. Because of our lifestyle, we have the joy and privilege of shopping, dining, working and celebrating with the Hispanic community. Furthermore, we were introduced to Holt International, for which we are so grateful. Holt has an amazing program and we felt so well taken care of from our first call with them.

Although we felt personally prepared and emotionally healthy enough to adopt a sibling group of children, as first-time parents we knew there was still a lot to learn about raising children from hard places. We began immersing ourselves in Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training, and other related child-rearing resources and literature, such as The Connected Child, The Body Keeps Score, The Whole-Brain Child, and Empowered to Connect. These incredible tools really helped us prepare ourselves with practical ways to help our children. We would strongly encourage every parent to explore all these resources prior to bringing home a sibling group, or any child who has experienced early-life trauma or neglect. There are so many overwhelming things during the first weeks and months after placement, and I don’t know how we would have survived without fully immersing ourselves in these incredible resources prior to bringing our children home.

The past five months after bringing our amazing children home have been a complete whirlwind, to say the least. In general, our kids are more incredible than we could have ever imagined. Each day has its challenges, but our children are vivacious, brave and resilient. Our oldest, Valentina (8), is extroverted, optimistic, versatile and spontaneous. She is creative, playful, high-spirited, and constantly seeking new and exciting experiences. Santiago (6), our middle child, is independent, curious and perceptive. He is sweet, inventive, imaginative, and constantly looking for things to build and construct. Our youngest son, Julian (4), is strong, decisive and charismatic. He has an abundance of energy and enjoys taking on challenges—especially when trying to keep up with Valentina and Santiago. All three of our children love playing outside, singing, dancing, riding bicycles, playing with our dogs, building forts and watching movies.

We have been spending our time bonding and learning to be a family of five. Our work schedule currently allows us the flexibility of one parent being present with them at nearly all times. This provides us the ability to spend intentional time with them recreationally and educationally. Through homeschooling our children, we have been blessed to see their rapid developmental growth. They are learning at such a quick pace that we are constantly amazed. The most shocking development is with our youngest son, Julian. When we were first matched, he was significantly delayed in speech and motor skills. He could barely say, “Mama” and “Papa.” However, just after several months of being in our home and having consistent emotional and nurturing support, he rarely stops talking to take a breath! All three of them have made great strides, and constantly surprise us with their level of emotional and academic intelligence. 

As most people are aware, there are many are barriers to overcome during the adoption process, and the financial burden is one of the more significant. However, the Special Needs Adoption Fund (SNAF) grant we received through Holt, along with a grant through The Gift of Adoption, the burden was lessened and helped make it possible to keep our sibling group of three children together.

Although we didn’t begin our journey with the intent of adopting a sibling group of children, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our children are an absolute blessing from God, and we are beyond excited to continue learning and growing with them as our love deepens and our hearts become even more knitted together.

Whitney and Barrett Wilson | Adoptive Parents

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