Lauren Hanekom's Adoption Story

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I wanted to share my adoption story with you. I am 28 and live in South Africa. I was adopted out of foster care when i was 6 months old. I don't recall a time in my life that I didn't know that I was adopted. My mom used to tell me (and my other adopted sister, unrelated and 5 years younger) bed time stories of how there was another mother but I was especially chosen to be her daughter. In primary school, children used to tease me sometimes but my brother (2 years older, unrelated) always stood up for me.

I always wondered about my biological parents growing up and my mother always supported the inquisitiveness. When I turned 18, I was legally allowed to search for my biological parents so I tried to approach the adoption agency that handled my adoption but it turned out that they had closed down. Their records ended up at a welfare that is run by social workers for young mothers or pregnant teens who have nowhere else to go. I had to go through a screening process to see if i was mentally prepared to start the journey of discovery.

It took them 4 years to locate my biological mother. I was able to email her indirectly through the social worker. She has 2 daughters, of which one is only 3 years younger than me. It made me wonder how she could keep that child so soon after giving me up, but I realized that I had to keep an open mind because I don't know what her circumstances were at the time or how I came to exist. We sent about 3 emails to each other, she then decided that she wasn't ready to have contact. My biological father is to this day probably unaware of my existence. I did hire a private investigator last year to try and locate him but he could only provide me with more information on my biological mother due to lack of information.

I intend to try establish contact with my biological mother again since her children are grown up now. I never felt bad about being adopted, my family has always supported me and provided me with whatever I needed. I grew up in a house with 6 siblings. It was certainly interesting when we all hit the teenage phase at more or less the same time. I don't think that it will bother me if I never have contact with my biological family but I do wonder. Other children know whose hair or eyes they've got, I would simply like medical history, a picture and to find out what they've done with their lives. I have a 5 year old son, so I can definitely imagine how difficult it must've been to give up a child, I just don't know how people manage to do it, but in my case, I'm glad she did because my life could've been very different and less fortunate.

Meredith McCullough's Adoption Story

I've known I was adopted for as long as I can remember. Growing up in a house with an older sister who was adopted from another family and having a childhood friend who was adopted made it seem like a very “normal” thing to me. I actually found it to be a very special and unique part of me. My family and I celebrate my adoption day, as we call it my special day and that’s exactly how it always felt: special. Of course, growing up from time to time I would have those moments where I’d wonder about my roots but as far as I knew my birth mother loved me so much, she gave me a better life.

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Off and on throughout the years especially as I got older I would “search” but didn’t try very hard and would hit dead ends and give up. Then I’d revisit a few years later. It wasn’t until I got pregnant that I really began to push to search. I wanted answers not only for my soon to be baby but for myself. Unfortunately I didn’t feel comfortable talking about this with my parents so I moved forward with the support from others around me.   

Coming from a closed adoption in the 80's I was only allowed access to non-identifying information. I thought why not, let’s see if I get any new information. Low and behold after a lot of back and forth I found out there was a letter from my birth mother in my file which was written when I was just one week old. She said that she wanted to be contacted if I ever wanted to contact her. Some time went by but the social worker was able to find my birth mother, who oddly enough was married to my birth father.

Over the span of a few months we managed to start our contact through the social worker and after three letters we decided to exchange full information. Two months following I was headed to meet my birth family for the very first time. Turns out I not only had birth parents who were together still to this day, but I had a full blood brother and sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. There was an entire family waiting to welcome me.

Needless to say the first meeting was extremely overwhelming. I wish I had documented my feelings throughout the whole process. I remember sitting on the couch that first meeting and just answering question after question about my life to each new person who sat next to me.

It’s now five years into our reunion. It has come with many emotions – emotions that I didn’t even know I had. Navigating through new relationships and trying to manage old ones. I have to remind myself that no family is conventional anymore. My hope is that one day both of my families will meld together. This may never happen but I’m a believer in the fairy tale. I mean what person doesn’t want that?

Despite the emotions that come along with search and reunion I’m glad I did it. I would have always wanted answers and now I have another family who loves me. I had a great life because one woman loved me so much she was brave enough to let me go and another one loved me so much she never looked at me like I wasn’t her own. I will forever be thankful for the life I had. This is my new “normal” and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Melissa Corkum's Adoption Story

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We were backwards from most other couples. Patrick was ready to get married first, wanted more kids than me, was ready for kids first, and brought up adoption first. Ironically, I’m a Korean adult adoptee, so I was a fairly easy win-over for adoption (Let’s not talk about the others).

Because we had already been blessed with two healthy bio children, we were certain we didn’t want to get in line for an infant and felt called to provide a home to hard-to-place children. After initial research, we were discouraged by the cost of international adoption but didn’t feel called to foster care. We started doing research about what starting an adoption ministry would look like. While researching we came across a photo listing for waiting children. Naturally I gravitated toward the Korean children. We both felt drawn to the same little guy, and God lured us with grant money that had been specifically designated for this waiting toddler. In God’s humor, we never did get that grant money. In a providential series of events that involved an angel (that’s a story for another post), we went from “wanting to find out additional info and having no home study” to “committed to adopt a waiting child” in less than 24 hours. We were on a plane to Korea 365 days later. That was adoption #1 in which we brought home a toddler from Korea who was born extremely prematurely (15 weeks to be exact) and had a lot of unknowns and global developmental delays.

Parenting Ty was nothing like we expected. We falsely assumed he would be fine because he hadn’t been institutionalized, and I was a Korean adoptee. After two years of what I affectionately call “Ty Fog,” we discovered trust-based parenting and went to Texas to become parent trainers with EmpoweredToConnect.org. Attempting to address Ty’s needs holistically catapulted our family onto a journey of increased wellness that still continues today.

In 2011, not ready to have a placement yet as Patrick was still working on a Masters in Theology at night, but anticipating the increasing Ethiopia wait times, we applied to adopt from the second country that had captured our hearts. Still wanting to provide for hard-to-place children and wanting to get the most bang for our buck, we told our agency we would take a sibling group of up to 3 children—any ages, any gender. What we didn’t know was that the increased time to complete Ethiopian adoptions was in getting matched. That didn’t apply to families who were willing to take waiting children. Less than 24 hours after submitting our paperwork, in March 2012 (with another year still left in Patrick’s Masters program), we were matched with 2 unrelated children—a 13 year old girl (Kayla) and a 14 year old boy (John). Two weeks later, we received a court date in record time and, with all the kids in tow, were on a plane to meet our newest additions on April 30, 2012. Those were adoptions #2 and #3.

While reading through paperwork for our then 14 year old son, I noticed he had been raised with another girl. We were able to pursue her as well and went to court for her in August 2012 while picking up John and Kayla. Grace came home in October 2012. Have you been counting? Yup, that was 3 trips to Ethiopia in less than 6 months. That rounded out adoption #4.

The tools we gained through trust-based parenting and the grace of God have sustained us as bringing home three, unrelated adolescents is H.A.R.D. We have been blindsided by cultural differences (Ethopia vs. US and institution vs. family), laughed at the joy shared by all the kids, cried at the grief and trauma we’ve brought into our home, and screamed at broken mental healthcare systems. We’ve met amazing families walking this twisty road with us and been humbled to accept help again and again from our village. Our journey is far from over as we continue to cling to God and hold our breaths for what is around the next corner.

I recently started a podcast...The UnCorked Podcast. While it's not specifically adoption related, Episode 7 is a conversation with my best friend who is also a Korean adoptee and we talk about our experience as "happy" adoptees.

To view Melissa's blog and podcast, go here ------> http://www.thecorkums.com/

Our family.

Our family.