Married ten years my husband and I finally accepted that God did not intend to give us children biologically. We had suffered through our third miscarriage and the heartache for me was heavy and suffocating. On top of this I had been through other health issues that made even trying to have another child ill-advised.
My husband and I discussed adoption with a lot of bad information. We heard horror stories of couples spending thousands of dollars and biological mothers backing out at or shortly after birth. Of biological parents coming back in the child’s later years and successfully winning custody of their biological children. We also knew first hand of adoptions from other countries that required thousands and thousands of dollars. We weren’t educated properly and it slowed us down. Which, in the end, was a good thing, but even the good thing could have been much better had we been more knowledgeable and known truth verses fiction in perusing successful adoptions.
Our youngest niece, the biological first born of my husband’s sister, had lived with us on and off since birth. Christmas of 2005 she, her mom, Alicia and my mother-in-law, Helen moved in with us again. Alicia was enlisting in the Army and Helen and Kiana were to remain with us until Alicia moved to her first duty station. All that changed.
While we were back in Alabama trying to make our custody of Kiana legal Alicia was in boot camp. It was a huge obstacle in our care for Kiana to not have Alicia present or for the county family court where we live to be able to contact her. Kiana’s custody was supposedly in Helen’s lap but it turned out there was no signed court order for that in Helen or Alicia’s possession. Additionally the Department of Children’s Services in Tennessee would not cooperate with any of us including the judge in our case himself.
Finally when the custody issue and my husband and I were her legal guardians the entire case changed. Alicia called shortly after she’d completed boot camp from school in Texas and asked me if we’d adopt Kiana. Alicia was pregnant and the father was a fellow recruit from boot camp who was also with her at school. They planned on getting married when school was over. What I suspected to be part of the picture we were not seeing was that her fiancé’ wasn’t thrilled with the idea of raising Kiana. It would be a few years before Alicia admitted that to me.
Meanwhile, Alicia’s second pregnancy was difficult, especially during the first trimester and the Army discharged her on a medical discharge. Eventually she, Helen and Paul ended up in her hometown and we went to see them around Thanksgiving. It was not a good visit for Kiana. Paul was not friendly to any of us and Alicia spent a great deal of time, when we visited Dollywood, crying due to Paul’s moodiness.
Kiana’s feelings of being responsible for Helen and Alicia’s happiness, which we’d been working on in play therapy, were overwhelming for her as she experienced them firsthand again. At the end of the day, when dark had fallen, we prepared to leave and Kiana’s heart was broken. She was really unhappy leaving her Mommy with Paul since Paul had made her cry, she was tired from being active all day. She was torn between the Mommy she loved and the Mama and Daddy she also loved. Even at four she recognized she felt safer with us, but the relationship she’d had with Mommy and Helen was what felt “natural” to her. It was a tough spot for a four-year-old.
The successful part of the trip was that we had secured Alicia’s signature on the necessary paperwork to have her parental rights severed. The battle before us now was the biological rights of the father.
Finding him was impossible. In order to avoid child support, in part, Tim and his new wife (he had not been married when he fathered Kiana) moved a lot and Tim changed jobs as soon as the Department of Children’s Services would locate him. Which we would find out only when no child support checks would arrive. Eventually the Alabama court agreed we could notify Tim of our intention to have his parental rights severed by means of public notification in his hometown paper after six months of no child support.
At last we were allowed to adopt Kiana and the legal battles were over. In the years she has been with us and since that one heart breaking visit to Dollywood, Kiana continues to see or talk Alicia or Helen. Kiana has seen therapists during these years to help her adjust to her life changes.
God choose to fulfill our desire for children through a family adoption. An unexpected but wonderful thing and a blessing I cannot begin to explain. Kiana is our daughter and I hate it when people feel the need to stipulate that she is our adopted daughter.
I do wish Chris and I had understood adoption better before delving into adopting Kiana in that knowing the laws and more of the how to do this and that would have been valuable information. That is one reason I advocate for adoption now. There are so many children who need families. Some of them may already be part of your extended family, as Kiana was for us. Some of them may live next door or down the street. Some of them in your city, county or state and some of them in another country, but they all have the same need regardless of where they are or where you are located, a safe and loving home.
If you are considering adoption or foster parenting get educated. Know the facts, resources and options. Options for adopt are many. Which will you choose to take to heart?
*Names changed to protect the privacy of those involved.