Jason and Heather with their daughter Ryhanna
We are pleased to present our second blog series by an adoptive family! This three-part series, written by Jason L., covers his family's experience throughout the big steps of adoption: getting ready to adopt, the matching process and finally, your adopted child becoming a part of your family. Read Jason's first post here.
My wife Heather and I can tell you that the process of being matched with a child is all about taking your time and carefully considering each possibility. At any given time, there are thousands of children in the care of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Some children are legally-freed for adoption, while others aren’t. But that’s just one of the factors you should consider when reviewing the biographies of children as you try to find the right fit.
The step of being matched with a child was one of the magical parts in the adoption process that we’ll always remember, but it didn’t seem that way at first. We looked at a number of children, but – for one reason or another – we were not the right fit for what they needed. To be honest, it started to become discouraging.
Then one day, we met up with some friends from our Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) group for brunch. They walked through the door and excitedly said, “We think we found the perfect match for you.” Our friends had attended an adoption event and met a case worker for a young girl. After the tip from our friends, Heather and I read the young girl’s profile and requested more information from her case worker. A few days later, our own case worker contacted us and said, “I think I’ve found the perfect match for you” – and it was the same girl. How crazy is that?
In total, five people – none of whom had spoken to each other – directed us toward a nine-year-old girl named Ryhanna. We thought, “Could this be our daughter?” We were excited, but also cautious. We’d had our heart broken several times already.
We received some background information about Ryhanna shortly before leaving for a vacation in Egypt. It was the perfect opportunity to take some time, read the info and really think about it away from the everyday stresses of life. It was on that trip that we both looked at each other and, with tears in our eyes, decided that she was the daughter we’d both been hoping and praying for over the years.
When we got home, we immediately requested a disclosure meeting and eagerly awaited the day when we’d learn more about this young lady. Disclosure meetings offer you the chance to learn more information about a particular child, including their history, current needs, and anticipated needs – the good and the bad. These meetings can be difficult, painful and very emotional. Sometimes, people will enter them and walk out knowing that the particular child is not the right fit for them, while others leave them knowing without a shadow of doubt that they want to adopt that child. That was us!
Every person in our meeting made up what we happily called “The Ryhanna Fan Club”. We learned about her past and the difficulties she’d gone through, but also about how amazingly intelligent, inquisitive, and thoughtful she is. As we drove home that day, we both cried and knew that we’d found our daughter. We also took the time to speak with some of the other people who knew her, including teachers and therapists, but we knew that she was our daughter. After we committed to becoming Ryhanna’s family, the next step was to meet her and hope that she liked us as much as we liked her.
I’ve met a lot of famous people in my life – vice presidents, governors, actors, singers, and the list goes on – but I’ve never been more nervous than the day I met Ryhanna for the first time. But all the nerves disappeared the moment we met. Ten minutes into the conversation, she asked if she could call us mom and dad. That was it! We knew she was meant to be part of our family!
In our third and final post, we’ll share what it was like to become Ryhanna’s family.