Monday, December 1, 2014

Chenell Family Story

I remember it clearly.  My husband and I had just pulled up into the driveway when my phone rang; it was my stepmother.  Not expecting what I was about to hear, it was as if the world had gone into slow motion.  My father had only days to live.

How could this be?  I had just seen him days prior and even though he was battling cancer, he was on the list for experimental drugs and we all still had hope. 

And, we were just a few months shy of bringing home his first grandson.  I simply couldn’t believe it.

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For years leading up to my dad’s death, my husband and I tried conceiving.  We went through testing, tried acupuncture, and I even had surgery.  Alas, we were told that the only way we could conceive a child would be through invitro fertilization.  Knowing that this was not an option that interested us, we chose to take the journey of adoption.  Selecting the country of South Korea was a fairly easy decision for us with our interest in Asian culture, our religious beliefs, their overall adoption process, and the welcoming and compassionate adoption agency that we found (AAC). 

After our paperwork was turned in, our wait started.  We were number 24 on “the list” to receive a “referral” – meaning we were to be matched with a child.  We were told this could take quite a while.  Then, once receiving our “referral”, we would need to wait for approval from the South Korean Ministry to bring our child home.  Again, this could take a good amount of time in which we were looking at possibly 2 years or more for the entire process. 

From that point on, I started praying our Buddhist chant, “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” insistently for our child to come home soon.  Within days, our number on “the list” started moving down dramatically.  All of a sudden, our agency said they had an influx of little boys needing forever families!  Within four months, we received our referral.  A beautiful baby boy! We were over the moon!  Instead of waiting years for a referral it had only taken 4 months!  But now, we were on to the wait to bring him home.

During that time, my dad was becoming quite ill.  The cancer had spread to a variety of places in his body and we were all waiting patiently for him to be accepted into a drug trial.  This prompted me to chant even harder.

That is why when I received the call on that January evening in 2012 that my dad only had days left, my world seemed to fall apart.  We were just a few short months from bringing home our son and my dad would not make it to meet him.    

At first, I felt as though my prayers and chanting had failed me.  All of that prayer and they wouldn’t meet each other!  There would be no sitting on grandpa’s lap, no fishing in the lake together, no good night kisses for each other.  It was devastating.   I went through the next few months in a state of disbelief.  How could this happen?  I struggled with this fiercely at times.

Until, we got the call.

“You can bring home your son now.” our coordinator, Regina, said as soon as I answered the phone.  I couldn’t believe it.  Only a few months earlier a phone call had brought endless tears to my eyes, and here was another one of those calls, but for a very different reason. 

Within 24 hours we were on a plane headed to Seoul.  We were about to meet and bring home our son, River.  And even though my dad wasn’t here to meet him, we were bestowed a very special gift while we were there. 

Our trip only lasted 5 days in Korea and out of the entire year of all the days we could have been told to travel, we were fortunate enough to be there the one weekend a year that Korea celebrates their Lotus Lantern Festival, the birth of Siddhartha Buddha.  It was a beautiful, joyous time that helped us grow even further in our Buddhist practice.  We witnessed thousands of lanterns light the city in his honor, a stunning parade telling the story of Siddhartha, and a festival of Buddhist mountain food, lantern festival wishes, and conversing with fellow Buddhists of different sects.  It was absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime experience…or was it?

I could end the experience there and tell you how grateful we are for our son, River, which we are, or, I could go on to tell that when we adopted our second son this past year, we brought him home during the exact same festival time.  We received custody of each of our sons the Monday after this celebration in both 2012 and 2014. 


Without a doubt, I see the power of our chanting prayer in creating our family.  Although we experienced profound loss (we lost my mother 3 months before bringing our second son home as well), we have been fortunate enough to be blessed with two beautiful children that light up our lives.  They may not fill the void left from my parents’ passing, but they bring a new form of love to our hearts that we didn’t know possible. 

In honor of the love and appreciation we share for our family, we celebrate our own Lotus Lantern Festival each year at our home with friends and family in honor of Siddhartha Buddha, our practice, and our sons’ culture.  We are forever grateful and do our best for my parents’ legacies to live on through the love and experiences we provide our two sons. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Macri Family Story


Our Life a Year After Adoption

Looking at pictures of Korea together:

Me: Avi do you know who that is?

Avi: Umma. (foster mom’s name)

Me: Do you remember living with Umma?

Avi: Yes

Me: Did you like Umma?

Avi: Umma not home. Avi home now.

That little conversation took the wind out of me like a punch to the gut.  And it was just as surprising. But that conversation sums up where we are now.   I didn’t know she remembered anything from Korea, let alone had feelings like that about her life. Everyday she has more independent thought, creativity, and sensitivity to what's going on around her. That kiddo never ceases to amaze me.

Today is our family day, our 1 year anniversary of our daughter coming home from Korea. She had just turned 2 then.  I thought about this day a year ago. Life was so crazy back then, it’s hard to believe I had the wherewithal to think about something as minor as this one year anniversary. We were losing our independence and our sleep by gaining a beautiful daughter. Despite all our preparation, we had no idea what we were in for.    I wondered what our life would be like a year in. Were we going to be happy or regretful? Would Avi be progressing well or would we be one of the countless horror stories I’d read on the internet?  It was such a huge, tumultuous change, I really couldn’t have predicted what I’d be saying.  Honestly, I thought with as tough as things were going, could we possibly be in a good place? I wish I could have known then what I know now.  It would have eased my worried mind.

I’m so happy to say things are going great. Avi is nowhere near the scared upset little girl we brought home. She’s having fun and smiles and laughs all the time.  She’s growing not only physically, but mentally by leaps and bounds. She loves stories and swimming. She enjoys walking her bike around and tormenting the cat. We love the way she makes us laugh. She's shared life lessons such as “penguins are stinky, like my butt.” After a day at the zoo, I’m glad that was the take home.

She is so outgoing and friendly to everyone she meets. (with the exception of the kid she clubbed last week) She finds so much enjoyment in everything we do together no matter how simple. Happiness is effortless for her and that makes her a joy to be around. 

When Avi came home from Korea, all of our worlds were turned upside down. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it was difficult.  Avi’s best friend now is Lucy, our neighbor's daughter. She’s almost a year younger. Now, two year old Lucy is Avi’s age when she arrived. It amazes me the quality and quantity of thought coming out of her mouth.  Lucy comments on everything. I know all that was trapped inside Avi when she came home. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been for her to have all those thoughts and be unable to express them. It’s no wonder we had so many meltdowns.  But like all things, that passed with time.  All those thoughts have found their way out. Now the flood gates have opened, and it's non-stop. 

With as tough as this year was, all I can say is hopefully next year will be as good as this one has been. If I had to do it again, would I? Yes. Without a doubt, it’s been the most rewarding, life changing thing Ann and I have ever done. Would I have done anything different? I don’t think so. We’re where we are now because of every choice we’ve made, both good and bad. And that place has turned out to be pretty great.

That good life presented itself this morning as I was leaving for work. I told Avi goodbye as I do every day. She came up to me, put her arms up and said “hug please”.  I knelt down and got a big hug with her head squeezed into the crook of my neck. After a long hug, she whispered in my ear,  “I love you daddy”.




Wouldn’t change a thing that brought us here.
Not a single thing


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Prichard Family Story

Continuing our celebration of National Adoption Month, here is another personal story from a family sewn together through adoption.  Thank you to the Prichard family for sharing their hearts with us.  


Adoption for us would start with a television show on girls in China.  A phone call to a very close friend would confirm that this would be a great adventure for my husband and I to take.  My heart and my mind were on a journey, one that would bring a daughter home to us after having two biological children. The country was China, but plans change and Korea was the country chosen.  We waited as patiently as we could, and the day would come that we would see her little face on our computer as quickly as the dial up internet would allow.  I remember the tears and the excitement we had that day.  She would come home in a very short while and was one of the three most beautiful babies my eyes had ever seen.  

As life has it the  journey would not be complete. It wasn't long before my heart once again felt that tugging feeling.  My heart may at the time been the only one feeling that but being married to a good man left me with hope that he would change his mind.  He put some rules down on this next adoption thinking it would take me awhile to find another baby that fit his ideas, but it was only a matter of days until I saw my little boy in China.  I knew in an instant that he would be ours and when my husband came home it only took him a moment to also realize this angel would be our son.  I didn't get to travel to China as our house was now full of little ones.  This always broke my heart but I knew my husband and parents would bring our little boy home to me.

Fast forward years and life is full of adventures with our four children. Adoption has not always been an easy path, it is  hard to grasp just how much our little ones have lost and how that affects daily life and family.  For this reason I have learned the true meaning of unconditional love and marveled time after time at how my heart can love so fully and completely beyond biology.  I would never trade being their mom for all that I know and feel.  Adoption has changed me for the better and become and huge part of who I am.

As life would have it once again there would be there little nudge in my heart.  I knew this time the wanting another child might not work as this would be a child number five.  I knew I had to be patient and wait until my husband either said yes or no. I knew he truly had to be ok to add another child and had to make up his own mind.  Three weeks later he said the answer was yes.  Yes to making our family big by today's standards, loud in so many ways, and full of love.  So we are waiting again for me to be called Mom by one more little one.  He will be our baby and waiting for him is so very hard.  Praying and trusting that they day will come that I can travel to Korea and hold him in my arms. Arms that will have to share because not only has my heart been tugged by adoption but each child we have has been changed by adoption.  

So the journey continues as we move from a family of six to seven! 


Teri Prichard

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Cardwell Family Story

Below is the story of the Cardwell family who have two beautiful, amazing, talented daughters. It's an awesome story that I'm sure you all will enjoy.  

My husband and I have been married 21 years....high school sweethearts, married right out of high school, ready to take on the world together.  We feel extremely blessed to be called to adoption as the way by which our family would grow, and we have traveled this journey twice in our marriage.  We have two beautiful, extraordinary and wonderful young ladies who we adopted from China - one as a healthy infant referral and one as a waiting child/older child referral.  They are our whole world.  Madeline, now 8,  was our first child, adopted at 8 months old.  She changed our world, made us parents, is the greatest blessing we have ever known.  She is extremely talented in everything she sets her hand to (makes me jealous, in a good way...I wish I had one ounce of the talent she has), is a successful competitive figure skater, she is exceptionally bright and the absolute love of our lives.  She was the sole center of our world until one fateful day.......

Our second adoption story for our oldest daughter is, to me, one of the most beautiful stories of redemption I've ever known and would not have been possible without AAC!

That one fateful day in 2010, while taking a lunch break, I was looking on a website for a friend who was considering a child to adopt, and she had asked me to look at his profile and give my opinion. After I did that, I was looking around at all of the precious kids available for adoption. Not searching for anything in particular, then... WHAM!!!...there she was! 



This gorgeous young lady with an infectious smile who instantly stole my heart. She was 13 years old. What?? A teenager?? WHAT AM I THINKING?? How would my hubby react? How would my little 3 year old react? But there was something about her. I went back multiple times during that day just to see her face. Finally before heading home, I printed off her profile and picture to take it home. I knew we were NOT in a place financially to even remotely be thinking of pursuing another adoption. But, I couldn't get away from the feeling of "there is my daughter" each time I looked at her face.

So I took a chance during dinner and I told my husband and daughter that I had something to talk to them about. I didn't say anything at first but just showed them her picture. Immediately my husband knew. He just said, "You want to adopt her, don't you?" My (then 3 year old) daughter just said, "Oh, she's beautiful!" So hubby suggested loading up and going to the coffee shop so we could get wifi (yes, we lived in the boondocks and didn't have wifi at our house yet) and could request more information. AAC sent us her preliminary information. That was it. We. Just. Knew.  We submitted our intent to adopt and requested her file the very next day. After gaining approval, we found out that multiple families had inquired about her with intent to pursue but we were first. When I think of how close we were to not getting approval for her first, it makes me want to cry.

So, 362 days later, we were in China meeting our daughter for the first time. 



This scared, shy, quiet, but beautiful and sweet child became our daughter, sharing the same "Gotcha Day" as our youngest daughter, only 4 years apart. Both on May 9th...Madeline in 2007 and Piper in 2011. Instant sisters from the same province, originally from cities 3 hours apart...beautiful girls who completed our family. We couldn't have asked for more.

Today, our 8 year old and 16 year old are the best of friends in spite of their age difference, the sweetest of sisters, and the most precious girls any parents could ever ask for. 




Three years after bringing her home, despite having to learn a new culture, new language, and new family at an older age, Piper is so outgoing, loving, willing to try new things, has a heart of gold, is passionate about pursing her dreams in art & graphic design, is finding all her hidden talents, and is one of the most genuine people I've ever had the honor of knowing. 



Adoption has changed our lives just as much as it's changed their lives. We are all grateful for each other. I thank God that I "by chance" ran across her picture that fateful day. I'm so thankful that my husband didn't "shoot me down" when I showed him her picture, knowing that natural circumstances prevented us from another adoption journey, and that adopting a teen would be considered by everyone we know to be "risky".  I am so thankful that God used our family to bring redemption to this child who never knew the love of a family until three years ago. I am so thankful to God, friends, family, and strangers, who helped us along the journey and made an impossible situation, possible. I am so thankful that we took that step of faith, not knowing how we would do it, but trusting wholly that she was meant to be our daughter. 

And now, we have not just one, but two girls who are the center of our worlds.

They brighten each and every day.  No, it hasn't been all moonlight & roses...there have been challenges...but we are a family...and family never gives up on each other.  We feel privileged to be their parents, to walk this journey called life with them, and to show them that no matter what their past is or how their lives began, we will always be a family...we will always be here for them...we will always be their biggest cheerleaders...and we will love them completely...until the day after forever.


If there is one thing I could say to encourage someone thinking that they can't afford adoption, or are hesitant about older child adoption, it would be to not let circumstances or fear rob you of something that could change your life in ways you never thought possible. God will show up in the most unexpected and miraculous ways!!  
 





~Teri Cardwell
Dallas, TX

Remember this....not everyone may be called to adopt...but everyone can do something for orphans and orphan care!!






Tuesday, November 4, 2014

National Adoption Month

Hi all!  Did you know that November is National Adoption Month?  This celebration started in 1976 when the governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis announced an adoption week to promote awareness of children in need of loving families.  In 1984 President Ronald Reagan declared the first national adoption week, and in 1995 President Clinton expanded the celebration so that the initiative would continue for the entire month of November.  Ever since, organizations all over the United States who focus on orphan care increase their efforts for four weeks, working to spread the word about the millions of children around the world without a family to call their own.

AAC will be participating in this celebration in a number of ways.  One thing we will be doing is sharing stories of families who have grown through the miracle of adoption.  Every Wednesday, we will post a new story.  We will also offer you a few opportunities to get involved as well.  We hope that you will follow our blog throughout the month and join us in making a difference in the lives of the children who wait for their forever families to find them.

Come back tomorrow and check out the story of the Cardwell family.  As a mother shares her journey to her daughters,  these two gorgeous girls.







Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday's Feature Child- Jackson

Today we'd like to bring everyone's attention to a little guy who has been waiting far too long for a family.
Meet Jackson! 


Jackson recently turned two years old.  He is a busy toddler who finds joy in exploring and discovering new things.  His foster mother says that he is always on the move and into everything. He loves running, jumping, and climbing.  One of his favorite activities is going to the park, where he enjoys playing on the playground...especially going down the slide.  Jackson also likes to do puzzles, look at books and dance to music.  Overall, he is a happy boy, but he sometimes gets upset when he does not get his way.  However, he goes from a frown to a smile in no time.  Basically, he is a typical toddler boy.

Jackson is a healthy child with no known medical conditions.  When Jackson was born the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and he was in distress for a few minutes.  Physicians were able to handle the situation and Jackson recovered quickly.  He was discharged from the hospital as regularly scheduled.  He has shown no negative effects from this in his two years of life.  In fact, Jackson's physical development is right on track.  Additionally, he is able to express himself in simply words and copies what adults say.



For more information about this child, contact our Waiting Child Specialist, Nicole either by email at info@aacadoption.com or by phone at 970-775-4683.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Looking for Chinese Language Classes or Cultural Activities for Your Children?

We would like to let everyone in the adoption community know about a fantastic organization that offers some services that you may be interested in.  The Confucius Institute at Colorado State University offers Chinese language and cultural education at a very reasonable cost.   The classes they offer are  not for credit, but are structured curriculum and are taught by professionals who are themselves native language speakers. They offer both adult and children's courses.  Each 10 week course is only $80.  If your child is not ready to delve into a full language program yet, they may be interested in the "Chinese Culture Alive!" class.  It is an introductory class that provides children opportunities to have fun while learning Chinese language and culture through various kinds of activities, such as making zodiac hats, coloring Peking opera masks, writing calligraphy, singing songs, weaving knots, paper cutting and more.  For more information about the classes they offer, follow these links


You may also be interested in attending their upcoming event.  On September 27 they will be celebrating 10 years of worldwide Chinese language and cultural teaching.  The event will be from 11am to 2pm at the Durrell Center on CSU campus.  There will be cultural performances, food, games, and other activities.  Bring your whole family and celebrate with our new friends at the Confucius Institute.