Foster story part 2
Right now my adoptive parents and I are coming up to our 14th Christmas together as a family. Next year we will be celebrating 15 years together. I have decided to take a look back at the last 14 years, to see how my family and I have developed.
When I was a little girl, my birth parents did not have the means to be able to truly take care of me. So from a very young age I was bounced around from home to home, a total of 6 foster homes. The last one I was at was with my Aunt Michelle and Uncle Mario. She tried her hardest to take care of me but she already had two kids of her own. I have to admit I was a big handful. But at the age of about 4, I was put up for adoption. I was then adopted at the age of 5, by my adoptive mom and dad, Doug and Christy.
During that point in time, prospective adoptive parents could take the prospective adoptee on an outing. They decided to take me to one of my favorite French fry place, McDonald’s. They bought me more than enough French fries to eat and watched me play in the play area. A few weeks later I was having a party to celebrate my adoption. I was sad to leave the family I was with, but was really excited to start my new life with my new family.
I first met the rest of the family that I was adopted into at Castle Park. We went miniature golfing and we all had a really fun time. Years in-between this moment to now has defiantly been up and down. Life always continues on no matter what, from the passing away of family members, to little family fights and big family fights, and personal choices that affect the rest of the family; no family is ever perfect, and my parents and I did not have a picture perfect life, but we stayed a family thought everything.
In the past year I did have the chance to speak to my birth parents. I know that they wish things could have been different, but truthfully I am fine with every thing that has happened. While speaking to my birth mom, she was able to tell me her battle through drugs, how she grew up and how it affected her and how it still affects her. If I was never adopted, I would not have my wonderful parents and family. I love my adoptive mom and dad and couldn’t imagine growing up with out them.
I am just a lucky person to get adopted so soon. Not everyone is. I am just about to turn 20; however I already know from my personal experiences that I am here to foster children and house them until they are also lucky enough to become adopted. One person close to me once said, “Everyone deserves to be loved and deserves to have a family.”
December 14, 2012
It is our pleasure to support Scott Martin as he endeavors to share his incredible life story. Follow Martin’s journey as he triumphantly manages to fight off almost certain death and survives “the flesh-eating disease” in his poignant memoir, Moving Forward in Reverse.
In this courageous memoir, Martin tenderly describes his experience with adopting his five children. Much like many of you, he recalls the “drudgery of awaiting word” about their prospective child. ‘The Wait’ is the most agonizing process for most adoptive parents. Join us as we support one of our fellow adoptive parents and take a look at how he describes the process of adopting.
The following is a summary of the adoption portion from Moving Forward In Reverse:
My wife Ellen and I have five adopted children: Nadia and Marius (a.k.a. Danny) are from Romania and Michias (a.k.a. Andy), Lauren, and Kali came home from Ethiopia. Every adoptive parent has his or her own story. This is mine.
It began one evening in January of 2000, as Ellen and I were stretched out on our living room sofa, mixing casual talk with the CBS Evening News out of Seattle. Following another set of commercials, a feature story began about a husband and wife who had adopted three siblings from Haiti. The couple and the children seemed so comfortable and perfect together. As the story closed, Ellen and I turned to each other and simultaneously exclaimed ‘We can do that!’
Within a month, we narrowed our focus to siblings from Russia. That was the easy part. Next came the job of whittling our way through the hundreds of adoption agencies available. Research. Research. Research. Unfortunately, due to a lack of proper regulation, there are unscrupulous groups out there that treat adoption as a used car business. The best strategy we found to get past this point was by educating ourselves and being proactive.
After deciding on an agency that specialized in Europe, we undertook the tedious process of completing paperwork, followed by the even greater drudgery of awaiting word about when we could set travel plans to visit Russian orphanages.
On a Monday morning in June, 2000, I held my breath as I opened an email from the adoption agency: “Dear Scott and Ellen, we have received word from friends in Romania of a young sister and brother, ages 3 and 2, that seem to fit your interests. Please get back to me after reviewing the attached photos.”
I immediately forward the email to Ellen who was at work and fifteen minutes later she phoned to say, ‘Call the agency. We’re heading to Romania!’
Many potential adoptive parents either move forward or lose interest in the process because they struggle with the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate: “The child doesn’t have my blood”. If I had any questions in that regard, they were blown away once I saw the first photo of Nadia and Danny. These were my kids! There was no question.
Two months later, we met the children at a seemingly well managed, government building in the little town of Giurgiu, located 60 Km south of Bucharest. They had been living in this small, brown brick building since they were each less than a week old. After leaving our car, we walked past sparse areas of brown grass and an old, rusting swing set that was comprised of two swings and a slide. We were not allowed to tour the building and were instead escorted directly into a room that may once have been used for storage but now had a red cross painted on the door signifying medical use.
Romanian law stated that we must first visit the children before the adoption process could proceed. The catch: We were allowed only 45 minutes. That’s correct, we spent more than 20 hours on airplanes and in airports, but could only have 45 minutes to be with our future children.
Adoptive parents know the word ‘delay’ all too well. Following our visit to Giurgiu, the adoption process became a race between a snail and the Romanian court system. First we were told that the kids would be home by Thanksgiving. That changed to Christmas, followed by Easter. At one point, the Courts took a one month hiatus and all adoptions were halted. The snail was winning.
Now nine months since we saw the kids, Ellen and I seemed to have gone through as much struggle as if she were pregnant. It was time to act. First, I tracked down the name of our Romanian liaison and offered a bribe. Next came a call to the adoption agency threatening a law suit. Then came a letter to Oprah – that’s right, Oprah. Finally, I called the office of Patty Murray, our US Senator for the State of Washington. That did the trick. Within the week we were informed that our adoption was placed on the docket of the Romanian Adoption Court. Two weeks later, we were on our way to Bucharest.
Life turned a corner for me as I became a full-time father, or Tata as is the Romanian translation. The volume of our lives seemed to be cranked up to the level of a college dormitory, but we’d never felt more content. This was what life was all about.
When a representative from a local adoption agency that specialized in Ethiopia presented Ellen with a packet of photos from Layla House in Addis Ababa, she casually left it on my desk. One young boy caught my eye, but still too involved with Nadia and Danny, I returned the papers to Ellen without comment. A month later, Ellen approached me with the pages once more. This time, she had circled the unhappy face of the same young boy whom I had been drawn to.
I brought Andy home eight easy months later.
Allow me to take a moment here to state that, yes, we’re crazy, but also, we have the financial means and, with me as a full-time parent, the freedom of time to make such a commitment. As with biological child birth, becoming an adoptive parent is no simple task and requires insight, dedication, and financial commitment.
Call us nuts (some have), but our family of five was still missing some pieces. Kalista came home in 2004 and Lauren in 2007 – again from Layla House. Somehow, just as we knew that it was time to adopt, we also knew that with this fifth adoption, our family was finally complete.
One twist to our story is that eight years before the kids came home, I had contracted what is commonly called ‘the flesh-eating disease’ and suffered multiple amputations.. I am writing a memoir titled Moving Forward In Reverse. You now know a bit about one facet of my story, but there’s so much more to tell. If you’d like to learn more, stop by my website at: www.Moving-Forward-In-Reverse.com.
What you are reading now is the most important letter we have ever written, and will undoubtedly become the most important letter we will ever write. Our names are Tracey and Micheal.
We feel so honored to have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to you. We cannot even begin to imagine how difficult taking this path might be for an expectant mother, but we are committed to offering a child a life full of unconditional love, constant nurturing, fun and a good helping of just plain silliness.
We met 12 years ago and have been happily married for the last five years, and our love has grown with each passing day. It says a lot that after 12 years, we still really look forward to seeing each other at the end of the work day. We were married in California but our love of travel and tropical places brought us to Tahiti, where we were married again but this time in a traditional Tahitian wedding by a Tahitian high priest. Surrounded by palm trees, tropical flowers and family we exchanged our vows again. That day remains one of the most happy and memorable days of our lives. By the way…..the high priest only spoke in Tahitian….so really, who know what he was saying. It all sounded good to us though.
One of the main things that bonds us together is our sense of humor and our willingness to find the silver lining on any cloud, our general approach to life is that the glass is always half full.
We are fortunate enough to live in a very safe part of southern California, where we are surrounded by parks and trails. We both love to hike and often end up racing each other some where along the trail, usually ending up in a panting, laughing heap. Our home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a pool in a pretty big back yard, which is always a great place for family and friends to gather.
As strange as it may seem, we also have flocks of hundreds of South American parrots that regularly visit the trees around our house. There are many stories about how the parrots came to be in the area, but how ever they got here…they definitely add a lot of color and a certain amount of squawking to the neighborhood. We really can’t wait to show a child all these wonderful things and we believe that there is opportunity for growth and learning in nearly every experience.
Health and fitness are very important to us, and we really enjoy trying to figure out new and healthy ways to cook our favorite meals. However, we can both do justice to a nice big piece of chocolate cake too, every now and then. We both work out regularly, Tracey ran the San Francisco marathon and enjoys doing cross-fit and boot camp. Micheal has studied various martial arts and self defense all his life and regularly teaches martial arts based workouts at a friends gym, but one of his favorite memories is teaching “ The Kinder Kids Karate Class” at the dojo he attended for fifteen years. Interacting with kids and seeing them gradually increase in confidence is such a rewarding experience.
Tracey is from California, but lived in Alabama and Africa for a while as a child. She still loves to travel. She has been a second grade teacher for the last 12 years and absolutely loves interacting with children….even when the kids are less than cooperative. She is a dedicated educator who goes the extra mile to insure that the children in her care get all the help and stimulation they need to achieve academic success.
Micheal is originally from Ireland but has called the US his home for many years. He is an Animator by profession and has worked for different studios, including Disney and Dreamworks on many well known movies, like “Lord of the Rings”, “Meet the Robinson’s”, “How to Train Your Dragon”, and the “Kung Fu Panda” movies. He also teaches animation classes online a few times a week to students all over the world. Although Micheal enjoys his career, every year he participates at the elementary school Tracey teaches at for their career day. He also helps instruct a fitness class for Tracey’s second grade students on occasion. Spending time with the children is extremely rewarding to him. Being able to inspire children and show them a different avenue they may be able to take in the future, or helping them become excited about fitness and being healthy is very gratifying.
Education is very important to both of us, but equally important is the personal growth of a child. We believe in encouraging and supporting a child to fulfill his or her dreams, be they academic, artistic, or athletic, so that they can grow to be confident, healthy, capable, fulfilled adults.
We are very close to our family’s and friends, and make trips to Ireland at least once a year to see the Irish connection. Micheal’s family also visit as often as possible. Tracey’s family live a great deal closer, so we are able to see them more often. We get together for Birthdays and Holidays, but also just on random occasions for a family gatherings.
We live in a very ethnically diverse city and are lucky to have wonderful friends of all ethnicities. The richness of culture around us in turn enhances the richness of our life. Our own family already has a mixture of Irish, African American, Polish and Filipino. We would hope to teach a child to respect and embrace the differences in all people and their cultures. Being a mixed race couple, that is very important to us. Our beautiful nieces are of mixed race and we know that they would lovingly welcome a new family member (and playmate!) of any race into their lives.
Every summer at a local park near us there are free evening concerts with a variety of different styles and genres of music. It’s always a real family and friends occasion, with picnics, smiling faces and lots of kids playing or dancing with their parents. We both have very eclectic tastes in music, anything from R n’ B, heavy rock, soft rock, reggae, alternative, Hawaiian, country, Latin, African, pop…..you name it and you will probably find it on one of our play lists. For fun we enjoy going to the movies, getting together with friends, checking out live events, concerts etc, finding new restaurants or just hanging out at home. We enjoy a lot of the same TV shows, and are big fans of cooking, singing, dancing and travel. TheAmazing Race is a must every Sunday evening. So You Think You Can Dance is a big favorite, as is TheVoice and American Idol. They are all watched amidst commentary and judging from both of us “ That was kinda pitchy dog “, “ Not too sure about those steps”. It’s all in good fun though, and what we really enjoy is each other’s company as we watch these shows. We both enjoy playing games, but Tracey is the scrabble queen. We try to keep a good balance between the physical and the cerebral side of things.
We love animals and have a cat named Bear, it might sound a little strange…but Bear really is part of the family. We greet him and he greets us back, he complains when there’s no food in his bowl, he sits with us when we watch TV…he definitely has a personality of his very own….but…. he is also one of the laziest cats alive. Some might call him a kitty of leisure…but he really is just plain lazy. An insect can hop, crawl or meander past him, and Bear will just look straight through it. He’s usually too busy propping himself up against a shoe, cushion or even one of our feet to do anything. But, he is a very sweet, good natured cat and reacts very well to strangers and children. I guess a tummy rub is a tummy rub, no matter where it comes from.
Everyone comments on how welcoming our home is and how much warmth they feel when they are here. We have a deep love and respect for each other, and this becomes obvious to anyone who spends even the shortest amount of time in our company. It is a warmth, love and respect that we are looking forward to sharing with a child.
As you may have gathered, we already have a very happy life and our greatest wish is to raise a child in the midst of that happiness with the support of family, extended family and friends….oh yes, and Bear of course.
We appreciate your time in reading about us and our life together, and please know that if you entrust us with the adoption of your child, you will always be respected and honored.
With warmest regards,
Tracey & Micheal
Alpha Adoption Centers is dedicated to supporting the community of adoption! Regardless of your role in the adoption journey, we have inspirational, heartwarming, and creative ideas on our Pinterest boards, as well as Adoption News Updates.
Our staff, here at AAC, scours Pinterest community boards and the internet to find you the latest and greatest of parenting advice, craft ideas, recipes that warm the tummies of your little ones, and SO MUCH MORE!
We are very excited to be able to join you in your journey, every step of the way!
Follow us @: http://pinterest.com/alphatcenters/
You may be overwhelmed and asking yourself the following questions:
- What are my options?
- How will I find the money, time or skills to give my child the care he/she will need?
- Will I be able to finish my education?
Our mission is to help every child or baby in need of an adoptive family find a warm and loving home. Every birth mother should have the opportunity to select wonderful pre-screened adoptive parents, or family based on their likes and interests.
I love to read. It is the one thing that anyone can do to get away, without paying an arm and a leg for a vacation. One year ago, I was stuffing my nose into any book I can find on adoption. The Girls Who Went Away. Good Girls Don’t. Birthmark. Life Givers. The Primal Wound. And the list goes on and on. I could not get enough of other’s stories, studying their thoughts, their fears, their lives. I was hell bent on discovering all
that there was to discover about adoption, or at least discover some things I did not already know.
For months I devoured all kinds of literature, whether books, Internet, or magazines … I wanted to know it all. Soon I realized that I was filling my heart with more questions, more pain and more uncertainty. I talked to all kinds of people who were in the triad and was fascinated by all that was being presented to me. It was amazing, yet quite taxing at the same time. I know that life of loss is hard, and for some it is torture. I tried very hard to be open and keep in mind that not everyone had the same experiences I had, and more so I tried to keep every story close to me. As if I could recount everything I had read and where it should be utilized.
It was a long journey that helped me understand things better, but I did realize that it
was also taxing my heart. It is a huge load to bear when you try to solve the world’s problems.
This year, I am still reading. However this time it is not about adoption, but rather things not at all related to adoption. I reread The Outsiders which reminded me how much I
love SE HINTON. I then blew through Rumble Fish, That Was Then This Is Now and
Tex as if I were reading for dear life. I found some authors that I had never been exposed to, and also came across some gems that I had never heard of but captured my soul non the less. Shoeless Joe was a fantastic journey. Although I have seen Field of Dreams many times, reading the book upon which the movie was based was almost religious for me. As I read it, I fell in love all over again with the game of baseball. Then my thoughts drifted to my boys and how much they love the game. I have taught both of them the position of catcher and just like me, they love putting on the equipment and sacrificing their bodies to stop the ball … protecting not just the plate but their whole team against unwanted runs. Every turn of the page, I was reminded of how much one
generation can teach another. My heart was filled with peace in a way that only a book can do.
I found that while I let my mind wander to what my boys could be doing years from now (playing for the Cardinals … the older catching for the younger who pitches so effortlessly it is like watching a dancer move with precision to music), my heart settled on the thought that life is good and I am so very blessed.
What is the point of this post? Life goes on. It moves at lightning speed the older you get and soon you have to choose what is more important: living in the past and mulling over things you cannot change or loving what you have been given and cherishing who you are no matter what your past may have been.
You only have one life. Make the best of it and learn to forgive what you cannot change and love what you can do here and now.
Kelsey Stewart, A Birth Mother Vioce
Nothing could be of more concern to Alpha Adoption Centers (AAC) as the upcoming decision to renew the Adoption Tax Credit. Monday, The New York Times ran a debate on the subject; among the debaters was one of our very own bloggers, Becky Fawcett of Helpusadopt.org : http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/10/29/should-the-adoption-tax-credit-be-renewed. She notes that the average cost for adoption is roughly “$30,000 to $50,000, and sometimes more depending on the circumstances and travel involved”. Alpha Adoption Centers’ first priority is keeping adoption AFFORDABLE. In fact, our average cost for adoption is 50% less than the national average cost. This tax credit is vital to our future clients and the 100,000 children that are in need of safe and loving homes.
Becky argues that, “If these families cannot afford to adopt, what would it mean for all of the children in our country and around the globe that are in need of adoptive families? What will happen to these children if they are not adopted? Who wants to tell them it is because money stood in the way?”. We, at AAC, couldn’t agree more. How should we tell our children that their life was unnecessarily difficult due to a governmental budget cut? And what should we say to our awaiting adoptive parents that are willing to risk all for the future of their family? A non renewal of this tax credit “would remove a very viable option for the tens of thousands of people seeking to build their families through adoption”. We must stand together for the future of our children and work toward making adoption more affordable, not less.
Jenessa Sargent, Program Manager with Alpha Adoption Centers
The phone call came I had waited my entire life for. A woman named Brandi asked
me if I was adopted? My heart sank into the tips of my toes, my mind and heart
started racing. It was the strangest feeling I have ever felt. I giggled and
cried responded with a yes! She then asked ” Did your adopted family buy your
birthmother a car?” I told her No they never met her and had no information on
her. Brandi began to tell me a story about a two-tone Pontiac they purchased for
her to get to and from Dr. Apts they left the car at service merchandise off
Town East in mesquite, Tx with the keys under the mat. I ran to my mother Nancy
and asked her. He face was blank she said who are you talking to? I asked her
please just be honest mom, I’m ready to know where I came from. My mom said yes
Holly we did. I didn’t know what to do, I stood there looking at the mother that
loved me no matter how difficult I was, the mother that wanted me, the woman
that raised me. I worried about how this was going to make her feel, but another
side of me was curious my entire life. I would walk through the grocery store
see a woman who favored me and would think what if that was my mom? My whole
life people told me I looked like Lisa Marie through the eyes. I have a mole
exactly where Madonna has one and always thought what if she was my real mom. I
told Brandi the stranger on the phone yes it’s me. She told me she would call me
back that she was notifying my birthmother. I sat there in complete dis belief,
shock, a complete mess with emotions and feelings. I called everyone I knew,
then the phone rang it was Brandi giving me my birthmothers information. Lisa
Marie was her name, I had 2 sisters one older, one younger she kept them, but
gave me up. I hung up took a deep breath and dialed the phone number not knowing
what doors I was about to open! A woman answered I said Lisa, she said Holly and
we both bawled like idiots for 10 minutes and all I could make out was I’m so
sorry, I’m so sorry please don’t hate me! I calmed her down and told her that I
love her for giving me up, that had the best parents anyone could ask for. I was
a spoiled brat and went to the caymans at 1, learned to ski at 4 told her she
made the best decision ever. She informed me about my youngest sister Jessica
who lived down the street from me my entire life and i never knew it, we skated
together at the local rink. She had my niece with my best friend in middle
schools brother. Jessica offered to drive me to Belton to meet Lisa. So we got
in the car a left town. I was a nervous wreck, I didn’t know what to expect this
was a whole new life and new people I know nothing about. I just dove into the
drama not knowing. When we arrived I got out of the car and saw this tall blonde
woman standing there, she looked like me in 20 years! She put her arms out and
hugged me so tight, pushed me back and said are you sure your my daughter? Your
too beautiful! We slowly got to know each other and one day Lisa drove to Dallas
to meet my mother Nancy. I could tell my mom was nervous and didn’t know how she
felt cause she never expressed much. They embraced each other the tears started
flowing like 2 year olds and Lisa told my mother Nancy thank you, thank you for
taking care of her when I couldn’t. My mom Nancy said no thank you for giving her
a life and for allowing me to become a mother and grandmother. Without you my
life would have been completely empty! Holly filled my life with a lot of
frustration and love too. A few weeks later I took my mother Nancy to the
hospital one day and they diagnosed her with a brain tumor stage 4, I stopped
calling Lisa and tended to my mother, 8 weeks later she took her last breath. My
life is blessed because of a SACRED EXCHANGE these woman made with each
– Holly, TX