November is National Adoption Awareness Month, so we asked some of our favorite adoptive families to answer prompts from our Adoption Journal and share their incredible stories on our blog this week.
Meet The Stoneman Family: Dani, Chandler, their three children, and Howie, their soon-to-be adoptive son. Below, read about their ongoing journey to adopt Howie from Hong Kong, the reasons why they chose to adopt, and what they're looking forward to most about raising their adoptive son. Grab some tissues—this one's a tear-jerker!
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ADOPT?
DANI: I get so sick when I’m pregnant—like feeding tube and hospitalized sick. After the third round of this, we felt it would be best to not be pregnant again. We felt so blessed to have three beautiful children and would have been so happy to stop there, but we felt like there was more. We didn’t know how another child would come to our family. Little by little we found ourselves moving towards adoption. As our eyes and hearts were opened to the many orphans around the world needing loving families, we took a leap of faith. At that point, I had no clue we’d be adopting a little boy with Down Syndrome from Hong Kong!
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRYING TO ADOPT YOUR CHILD?
DANI: We spent most of 2016 exploring our options for adoption, and by the end of the year we officially started the process. We expected to take it very slowly. And while some days seem to last forever during the waiting periods, it’s also happened much more quickly than we expected. It will take about 18 months to get our child in our arms and another 6 months before it’s finalized.
DESCRIBE THE LOGISTICS IN YOUR ADOPTION PROCESS:
DANI: Adoption includes lots and lots of paperwork and fees! I didn’t understand how exhausting and time consuming it could be until I was in the middle of it. It felt like a part-time job. Our first big task was to get a home study. This was turned into U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for them to approve our family to bring an adopted child into the U.S.
As soon as we had a specific child referral, the U.S. pre-approval was sent with our home study to Hong Kong. Their government will approve our family and then the paperwork will go back to the U.S. government to approve our specific child to immigrate to the U.S. Once this happens, we get a court date in Hong Kong. After the court hearing, our child will need medical appointments and have a visa issued. At that point, we will be notified of travel dates. We will spend a week in Hong Kong getting to know our little guy and then bring him home to meet the rest of the family in the U.S. We’ll have a few more visits with the social worker over the next 6 months and then the adoption should be finalized in the U.S. I’m exhausted writing all of that—and that’s the simplified version!
WHERE WERE YOU AND HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE RECEIVING YOUR CHILD? WHAT WERE YOU FEELING WHEN YOU FOUND OUT?
DANI: We were trying to wrap up our home study and turn in paperwork to the U.S. Everything seemed to be delayed and we were a little frustrated that it was taking so long. We thought it would be another 3 months or so before we heard about any children available in our program. One morning, I was in the shower and my daughter came in saying someone was calling me on the phone. She read me the name and my heart started racing. She answered it and handed it to me in the shower before I could turn off the water. I thought the agency worker would have news about our home study. Instead, she told me that she had a file for a little boy. We had requested a girl, so our worker said we didn’t need to look at the file if we didn’t want to. We’d reviewed dozens of files previous to this. We figured we’d look at it and felt totally comfortable passing the file on since we expected to wait another 3-6 months for THE referral.
I called Chandler and the only thing I really remember him saying was, “Don’t get all emotional about it. We have to be logical.” I told him it would be emotional no matter what since we were reading an orphan’s file. We decided to share our thoughts later that evening. When I hung up, I started reading the file and couldn’t stop. His story was so real to me. It matched up with everything we had worked toward up to this point. I couldn’t say he was for sure my son, but all I could think over and over was how perfect and beautiful his story was.
CHANDLER: As I began reading Howie’s profile I was overcome with emotion. I started crying. I couldn’t stop reading and in the end felt overwhelming love for this boy and felt like he was supposed to be in our family, almost as though I already knew him. When I looked at his pictures, it was game over—I wanted to get Howie home as soon as possible!
DANI: I love that he told me to not be emotional. Hah! Our biggest hesitation was that we had planned on a girl. It didn’t take very long for us to see that this little boy was perfect for our family in every way. Before we went to bed that night, we emailed our agency worker saying we wanted to commit to Howie. Suddenly we had a face attached to everything we were working so hard for!
WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE MOST ABOUT RAISING YOUR CHILD?
DANI: I look forward to all of the new experiences our family will have with Howie. I know there will be hard things, but I know he will bring more joy and happiness than we ever imagined possible.
CHANDLER: Our son told me today, “Do you know who I love most in the world?” I thought he’d say his typical answer of Mom or Dad. Instead he said, “Howie.” I enjoy watching my children’s love for Howie grow and I am excited for Howie to finally feel that love firsthand.
THE STORY OF YOUR CHILD'S NAME:
DANI: While we’re unable to share any identifying information about our little guy, we are SO excited about his name. Howie is actually an online alias, which is common for international adoption. Our children helped us pick a name for him that includes both a family name and part of his Chinese name.
DESCRIBE THE LOVE YOU FEEL FOR YOUR CHILD...
DANI: Before we started our adoption journey, I wanted to make sure I knew I could love a child I didn’t give birth to. I knew others had done it and I love children, but I wondered if it would be different than the love I feel for my other children. I decided if others could, I was willing to try. It was a huge leap of faith. Now, I laugh at myself because I’m so deeply in love with this little boy and I’m fighting so hard to bring him home to be with our family when I’ve never even met him.