November is National Adoption Month and today is National Adoption Day! Did you know that the average age of children waiting to be adopted from foster care is 8 ½ years old?
Please welcome guest poster Julie Hone-Rivieccio. She and her husband, Rob, adopted twin girls whom the proud mama lovingly refers to as her Sassies; they are now 11 years-old and in full fledged tween mode. I’m very grateful that she was willing to share the story of the first time she and Rob met their daughters, when they were in foster care at 7 years old, and the joy that adoption has brought into their lives.
This post was written in November 2013. Please also see the update at the bottom of Julie’s post.
We traveled back and forth for weeks to meet them . . . 3 hours each way, but each one of our trips had taken over a year to complete. Our first glimpse of them was a small 2×2 photo on a website. We submitted our home study and waited for the call.
On July 11th, we received the call that every adoptive parent prays for . . . we were matched! Our tears of joy washing away years of questions. Those questions range from What if we could have? Did we really try everything? What if we would have? Will we ever be able to? Why us?
The testing, the waiting, the questions, the wanting were all gone in a moment of joy.
We first met them in the foster home, kind of like a blind date.
The girls were so tiny and timid. We had the foster family who kindly let us meet at their home, 3 caseworkers, Robert and myself. I remember sitting on the floor with a coloring book and helping them write their name. We played for a while and then it was time to go. Our first ‘date’ was coming to a close. We left the house and walked in silence to the car, holding only hands.
I hadn’t realized neither of us were really breathing until we got into the car and exhaled simultaneously. The tears started to flow.
We had just met the beautiful angels we had prayed for. The 3 hour trip home was quiet, but felt like all of the questions had been answered. Why the tests? Why did it take so long? Why the pain and tears and heartbreak? Why us and not them? Why adopt? Why had we come together as husband and wife? WHY?
The answer was simple: we were chosen.
We did not make the choice to adopt, but Mia and Zoe chose us.
Mia and Zoe chose us to love them, nurture them, teach and protect them. But most importantly, they chose us. They adopted us to share our lives and grow to be life long friends.
It’s National Adoption Day!! We are forever grateful for the gift of adoption and the joy it has brought to our family. Everyday we are given the opportunity of watching our daughters blossom into smart, beautiful, witty young women is a gift.
There is no greater joy and I thank God for allowing us to be a part of their journey.
UPDATE: Rob passed away suddenly in April 2014, just five months after Julie wrote this post. She recently told me, “He loved those lil Sassies more than anything in this world and they truly made him a complete man.” The Robert Rivieccio Scholarship Fund at Florida State University was established in his honor.
Julie is truly an inspiration. In addition to being an incredible mom (including shivering through a whole bunch of chilly softball games this fall cheering on her girls), she still advocates tirelessly for adoption, saying “Adoption, in whatever form it happens, is one of the most precious gifts on this earth.”
Many state child welfare agencies are implementing services to help tweens find permanent families. You can find resources on adoption older children (meaning tweens and teens) here.
For a month-long series featuring stories of adoption, please check out Portrait of an Adoption.
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