International Adoption: The Zaruba Family

So much has happened in a year. Last September my husband and I boarded a plan to Uganda, Africa. We had no idea how HUGE our lives were about to change…I had been dreaming of being a mom since I was about ten years old. I knew I was born to do this mom thing. So, as soon as my husband and I got married in 2011 we immediately began trying to get pregnant. Right before this I had donated eggs to a couple that were unable to conceive. This consisted of six months of hormone shots and ultrasounds and being poked and prodded. People would ask why I was doing that, I would always telling them that having kids and a family was the most important thing to me and I couldn’t imagine not being able to have kids so I wanted to do this for them. Much to my surprise when immediately after the egg retrieval was complete and we began trying, we would soon find out that we were now that couple that was unable to get pregnant. I was heartbroken, I remember so many nights sitting on the bathroom floor crying.

zarubaAfter about a year and half of trying to get pregnant, one night Tyler and I watched the documentary Invisible Children which tells a story of vulnerable kids in Africa. Soon after I felt my heart stirring, I felt very strongly God trying to articulate to me in a way he had never done. I felt him calling us to Africa, and not just Africa, but Uganda specifically. I told my husband I thought we should give trying to get pregnant a break and go to Uganda. Needless to say he thought I had LOST MY MIND! But he could see my heart needed this and I felt so guided and so for sure this was what we were suppose to do so. On July 31, 2013 we boarded our flight for Uganda. We spent 3 1/2 life changing, vulnerable, humbling, amazing weeks working in an orphanage.

We saw him early on, he was small and scrawny, he had a horrible fungus covering his head and had the filthiest clothes on, but he was ours. We NEVER imagine going there to meet a child. We had briefly spoke of adoption before we went and my husband quickly shut it down saying he absolutely wanted biological children and didn’t want to adopt. But our boy Kamoga changed us. He changed my husband. I think honestly my husband just never believed he could have so much love and protection over a child that wasn’t biologically ours. We had asked the “mama” of the orphanage about adopting him before we even left. That’s how sure we were, she blew us off and seemed very uninterested. When I say he is in an orphanage  I use that term lightly. He was taken in by a woman who just takes care of a bunch of kids, he has no paperwork, no birth certificate, no history, no file…he had nothing. I was a complicated situation to say the least.  I remember riding in the matatu on our hour drive to the orphanage the last day with my headphones on, looking out the window just bawling my eyes out the entire way there. zaruba2We spent the last day with our boy, when it was our time all the kids were eating and I just gave him a quick kiss, told him I loved him and that was it. I was heartbroken. My husband and I came home changed. We 100% wanted to adopt now. We were heartbroken over Kamoga so we knew we wouldn’t adopt from Africa because we wanted him. We considered all options but international seemed like the best fit for us. My husbands family is Czech and as it turned out a new Czech Republic program had just opened. So we applied and got started. We have just now had all of our dossier paperwork translated into Czech and sent to the city of Brno, Czech Republic which is where we will be matched with a child. Because it is a new program and we are VERY flexible on our child age, sex and minor disabilities we are expected to get matched quickly and possibly even travel this summer!  Still, we just couldn’t shake Kamoga, I spent SO many nights just crying to my husband about how hard it was, how I worried if he was safe and I wanted to be there with him. After talking a lot about it we decided to fight for him. We truly feel like we are his caretakers and nothing will keep us from him. So for the last 4 months we are been in constant contact with his orphanage and him and after MONTHS of building a relationship of trust with the “mama” she has finally agreed to let us move Kamoga to another orphanage so we can start an official adoption. Now this might not sound like a big deal, but it is a mountain moved, friends. The Mama sending a message saying “We are the best thing that has ever happened to Kamoga and she couldn’t stop us” was one of the best days for me ever. My heart melted and I felt like I could breath for the first time since we left him. So this is where we are now, we are just waiting on our call from the Czech Republic that we have a child and in the next couple of weeks we are hoping Kamoga will be moved to his new temporary home in hopes that’s where we will soon be getting him from to bring him to his forever home in Texas! Our story is not ordinary, we will be celebrating American holidays, Ugandan holidays and Czech holidays, there will be years of our children’s lives that we missed out on, but we get the rest of their lives and we can’t imagine life any other way now…

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You can help the Zaruba family here.

An Adoption Story: The Ebersole Tribe

An adoption story with an adoptee birth mother, adoptee adoptive mother, and of course one beautiful adopted baby that will knock your socks off…

Ebersole Tribe… what is that? Your husband is an all-American boy, you are Asian adoptee… what makes you tribal? Let me explain. Before my husband and I were even married we knew we’d adopt. I grew up in a white family and never lacked any confidence in being Asian, chosen and loved. My parents adopted me first and then went on to have biological children.

When Danny and I were married, everyone started asking me if I had baby fever. I struggled with this question because I did, but it was different. I had “adoption fever”. I had some amazing friends who I watched walk through the process and desired that for our own family. I saw the way these kids were so much like me. How I identified with them in their belonging to a family even if they didn’t “match”. How they were dearly loved because they were their kids and the journey that brought them to be a part of the family was celebrated at all possible moments. We knew adoption wasn’t a consolation prize. Ebersole.Family.9Whenever Danny and I would talk about adoption, my sensitive husband would tear up saying “I am so glad I get to choose you, it’s only because so many other people chose you too.”

So we knew we were being called to adopt. Adoption to us at the time already meant so much. Having looked for my birth-mother in years past, I really desired to be able to have our baby’s birth mother be a part of our family. We knew domestic adoption was the best root for these desires and so we started the process.

Little did we know our story would unfold so quickly.Ebersole.Family.7

We jumped through all of the hoops of home studies, classes and applications within a span of eight months. We were officially activated in our domestic program three weeks before we were chosen by a birth-mother. This call changed our lives and healed my heart in so many places. Our birth mother – Mama T, as we call her – wrote her daughter a letter when she signed the papers to put her up for adoption. She wrote that she loved her and wanted her to love her adoptive family because Mama T herself was adopted too.

Mama T is the bravest person I know. Yes, you read it correctly: she’s adopted too. Her adoption story is not nearly as cheerful as mine but she is still proud, loved and knows God has big plans for her life. She is a young woman, who kept her pregnancy a secret from all her friends and most of her family. She opened her heart to us during the days before the baby’s birth as we took pregnancy photos of her, we got our nails done, laughed, ate good food and of course went shopping.

Mama T invited us to be in the room when little our baby came into the world, and I was able to be the first one to hold her. Mama T gave us the honor of naming our daughter Vera-lou! Later, Mama T also got to hold Vera-lou and take pictures with her that we will forever cherish. She has also now introduced us to Padre J, her boyfriend, Vera-lou’s birth father. We text message both of them often, sometimes FaceTime and send them little gifts when special holidays come around. They are what make us a tribe; they are a part of our family.

Yes, it seems a little crazy and a bit unnerving to some to have an open adoption but for us it was a clear way to thank and honor the birth-parents. These people are Vera-lou’s parents too, just in another way. Their love for her is as fierce as ours. They show it in the pain they feel as they are miles and miles away from her. It’s in the way they know that they made the right decision when things in their lives show it wouldn’t have been safe for her to have lived with them. We will forever be honoring Mama T and Padre J, that’s why they are forever a part of our tribe. For they will forever be loving Vera-lou. We have no idea who else will enter our tribe and under what ways but we will all be a part of the process.

Adoption has been an instant thing in terms of our tribe loving. But it’s a process to be an adoptee and an adoptive mother. I have this overwhelming pressure to represent adoption from all angles. This makes this topic one I love yet it hits all sides of my heart. I want to represent all sides of the story well but let me be honest in saying it is too beautifully complex for anyone to ever completely ‘figure it out’. I am one person fumbling my way through this life. I have had the privilege of seeing and experiencing the beauty and the tragedy of this redemptive thing called adoption.

To read the full version of our sort and to follow our fumbling journey please visit ebersoletribe.wordpress.com.

Photography: www.ebersolephotography.com

Adoption: a word of advice

This submission is a little bit of a hoping to adopt story, and a little bit of a success story. Rachel is in the process of adopting a child in Ethiopia and shares a bit about what not to say to someone going through this process.

The other day, I had a pregnant friend tell me that I was doing it the easy way in referring to adoption. I know she wasn’t meaning to at all, but this truly hurt my feelings because she clearly doesn’t understand what I am facing. I simply said, ” I don’t know about that”, and I walked away trying to fight back tears. I am not pregnant and have never been pregnant, so I don’t feel like I really have the place to compare the two. We are hoping one day after we bring Baby Woodson home that I will be pregnant, and I will give you my thoughts. I think that no matter how you come to be a mother that there our challenges that you have to face. Though they may look different, it doesn’t mean that one way is easier than another.

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I understand that I may not be experiencing morning sickness, and my feet aren’t swelling (even though they probably will on a 16-18 hour flight). I understand that my belly isn’t growing (well, maybe it is but that’s another issue entirely). However, I do know that it isn’t easy knowing that when your baby is first born, you won’t be there to hold him/her, or knowing that the first months of his/her life will probably not be what you would have planned for them if you were there. It isn’t easy knowing that you have no idea when you will be with your baby. There are many nights I cry in bed about this. If I could just know, I feel like it would be so much easier. I hate the thought of going to meet my baby and spending a week in Ethiopia, and then coming home without him/her until we get another court date. I don’t think a lot of people understand the love that we truly have for this child already. Sure, I may not feel them kicking, and I may not get to hear his/her heart beat, but it doesn’t make it any less real that I am expecting, and that I am totally crazy about this baby.

The paper process and the financial aspect of adoption alone can be extremely exhausting and overwhelming, but I mainly wanted to focus on the emotional aspect of it, because that is where it is truly hitting me the most. I don’t want this post to sound like I am playing a little mini violin for myself here, but I do feel like I need to let people know. Please be sensitive to people’s situation. If you haven’t been there, be careful to assume. This isn’t just about adoption, but in life in general.

This isn’t really our story, but it is a small part of what our journey has looked like and felt like. Thank you for reading.

Rachel Woodson

To those of you who have been effected and blessed by adoption, we’d love to hear more! What would you add to Rachel’s list of things not to say? We love the recent campaign to alter the phrase “Given up” for adoption to “Placed.” We spotted a few tees over at Happy Goat Designs that help bring light to this movement – see them here! They also have a bunch of t-shirts and onesies for adopted children, super sweet! We hope this feed will be a good resource for increasing sensitivity in an already tender subject!

Happy Goat Adoption Tees

Hoping to Adopt: Abby and Micah

My husband Micah and I met in January 2002 when we both were working for the same company.  We didn’t realize it at the time, but we had so much in common.  We both attended the same high school, although Micah had graduated years before me.  We grew up nearly 2 miles from each other, and we both attended the same church.  There was an instant connection between us and our friendship began to grow.  Looking back at that point in our lives, it was great that we had the opportunity to become such good friends because that has carried us through the most difficult times in our lives.hoping

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An Adopted Child: Tami

My story is not really exciting, but I love it all the same. Every year on my birthday, my dad, up until he passed away, would tell me the story of how I became his and my mom’s daughter.tami

Adoption was not the same when I was a baby as it is now. My parents already had three boys and twelve years after the last son was born, they decided they really would like to have a little girl join their family. They had looked into adopting another little girl and almost adopted her. Then one morning at 4 a.m. the phone rang. My dad answered it and the voice on the other end said, “We have a little girl here. She is two days old. Do you want to come get her?” My dad said that he knew that the little girl the person on the phone was talking about was the little girl they had been waiting for. He told the voice on the phone that they would love to come get the little girl. My dad told me it was the best phone call he ever received, especially for 4 a.m.! That is how I became a member of my family.

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