In honor of November being National Adoption Month, Portrait of an Adoption is running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and foster parents-turned-adoptive parents. Painful and beautiful, these stories will bring you a deeper understanding of what adoption looks like, allowing you to appreciate the many brushstrokes that comprise a family portrait.
By Debbie Mumm
Our adoption story is a little different than most. We had been married for twenty-five years when we decided we’d like to add another child to our family. Many friends and family members thought we were crazy to even think of such a thing when our three biological sons were on the verge of going out on their own. At the time, they were twenty, eighteen and thirteen years old.
We have always enjoyed the bustle and activities of our boys, and as they grew older, we did not feel ready to transition into a quiet home. So we pursued the adoption of a boy (since we were good with boys), preferably school-age. We chose Russia because the adoptions there seemed to happen relatively quickly.
Little did we know that nothing about this adoption would go as planned.
Our hearts were drawn to a little boy who resembled Dennis and was born the same day as our youngest nephew. Younger than we hoped for, we chose him because of his big smile and good health records. Our paperwork took longer than most families as we had four people in the household over age eighteen that needed to do physicals, fingerprinting, etc.
All our paperwork was completed by early November of 2003. We panicked when the money totals started mounting, but God continued to send us miracles…and the money came to us just when we needed it.
Early in December of 2004, we received the long-awaited call to go meet Alex in Komsomolsk, Russia by December 19th, knowing we would not yet be able to take him home. We didn’t realize exactly how far away this region was until we started making travel arrangements. Trying to avoid the complication of holiday travelers, we decided to stop in Harbin, China for one night before heading onto Khabarovsk, Russia.
But once we landed in China, we learned that our originally scheduled flight to Russia no longer existed, and we ended up staying in China for three days, pushing back our days to see Alex.
And then we got there. Just imagine . . .
Suddenly, the door opens and a large Russian woman walks in with a small, thin little boy holding her hand. He is smaller than your birth son was at two. Is this really the five-year-old you have been waiting for? He has the little face that has been hanging on your refrigerator for the past six months. She takes him to you and tells him, “This is your Mama.” You take him in your arms and hug him tight. You notice your husband has tears in his eyes as he picks up this very tiny five-yr-old. At that moment you know this little guy is your son.
We barely had met Alex when our facilitator and other officials started telling us about his older sister in another orphanage in town. They raved about how wonderful she was and how she needed a family. We resisted the thought of adding a girl to this adoption and agreed we’d take her info back to America and try to find her a family. We tearfully kissed Alex good bye as we headed on our thirty-hour trip back home.
Once again, on the trip back to America, we learned the China connecting flight did not exist and we waited, re-booked another flight and finally headed home…after Christmas. We spent Christmas Day at the airport in Seoul, Korea.
The next few months, we frantically asked for information about Tatiana. Finally, in February, a package arrived. Our facilitator had taken a video of Tatiana opening a gift that we had left for her. Her smile stole our hearts, and we made the life-changing decision that Tania and Alex should live together as brother and sister in America.
Up until this point, these children had never met each other. Again, the money issue arose but our fears vanished when we came up with the money. Even though things kept going wrong along the way, it was apparent God wanted these children with us.
We should have gone back in March for Alex but because we decided to also take Tatiana, the additional paperwork slowed our departure date back to Russia. The officials decided we could take Tatiana home when we got Alex, which was a big relief.
Week after week we waited for ‘The Call’. Finally, in June 2004, one year after starting the paperwork for Alex, we got our court date.
On July 7, 2004 Tatiana and Alexander officially became part of our family. It would be another three weeks before they were finally home to meet their older brothers, because things did not move smoothly for us and we had obstacles in our way.
But the bottom line was that we managed to take two separated siblings out of orphanage life and into one loving family. Tatiana and Alex love their big brothers and have adjusted wonderfully to being in our family. I highly recommend adopting older children. We saw so many beautiful children in the Russian orphanages that would love to have families of their own. They are responsive to attention and love, and they know where they came from. Our new son and daughter have taught us a thousand times over that we have so much we take for granted.
The day may come for you, like it did for me, when your child looks you in the eyes and asks, “Mama, what took you so long to come and get me? I was waiting and waiting for you.”
On YouTube, you can view a three-minute summary of our Adoption Story.
By Debbie Mumm