Our Adoption Story started with me wanting to adopt when I was 8 years old when I first understood what adoption was. It just made sense to me. Not only were there millions of children who needed parents, but God has clearly called followers of Him to take care of the widows and the orphans. Check out the bible on that one – pretty straight forward. As far as I’m aware, Jesus’ teachings in the bible weren’t optional. Or optional for some. All of his commandments were to be obeyed by his followers. Adoption was one of my relationship “deal breakers”. So, when I met Jon and we started dating and then soon after started talking marriage, he had to be on board with me wanting to grow my family by adoption. His youngest sister was adopted, and so he technically had more experience than I did. Luckily he was on board. And simple as that, we started talking family that early on. International adoption was always our first choice because of all my years of travelling – it just made sense. That’s where my heart was… at the beginning.
After a few years of marriage when I started having “the baby itch” and we started talking family, we started our adoption research based on wanting to adopt from Colombia. Because of my extensive time there and my love for the nation – it was our first choice. We went to Colombia in 2007 and made some very preliminary arrangements finding a lawyer and an “agency” and all that good stuff. In January 2008, all of Canada’s adoption laws changed making it impossible for us to adopt from Colombia. Colombia was no longer an option.
In March 2008 I lead a mission trip to Ecuador and saw so many similarities between Ecuador and Colombia. We started our research and found one organization in Ontario that worked in Latin America – in Ecuador. We had to be married for a minimum of 3 years before we could apply and had to be 25 before our dossier could be sent to be approved. We were okay with that because we knew it would take us a while to save up the $25,000+. When we started saving and continued communication with the adoption agency, the program was soon closed down and we were disappointed. It re-opened again in late 2008, but with the children being the between 3-4 years old, which was a little bit older than what we had in mind, especially because of the language barrier. As we collected more information, we knew it just wasn’t going to work. *That is keeping the story VERY short. Ecuador was no longer an option.
Because we liked this faith based adoption agency, we decided to look into some of the other countries they did adoptions in. Zambia caught our eye because of the family connections we had there with my mum travelling to Southern Africa 4 times a year. As we were learning more about the HIV/AIDS Epidemic and the huge need there is in Southern Africa, Zambia was our next option. Within a few months, the program had closed down because of political instability and the strange rules and regulations the country was putting on international adopted families. You didn’t know how long you would have to stay in the country until you got there in order to adopt your child, a minimum of 60 days. That was going to be impossible for us! When the program closed, Zambia was no longer an option.
We then considered Ghana. My parents had been to Ghana multiple times, we have friends from Ghana, and it was a place that we could adopt a sibling group without having to pay for 2 separate adoptions. Which was amazing, we liked the sound of a sibling group and we were interested in pursuing creating our family this way. Then we found out that Ghana had changed their laws to include a 2 year fostering period. The adoption was not finalized for a minimum of 24 months, and at that point they could still reject the adoption… After having a child spend 2 years with us in Canada, having us all have to go back to Ghana sounds ridiculous, and a risk that we know we could not handle. Also, during our Ghana research we found out some information about the agency that made us not comfortable working with them any longer. So we not only had no agency, but Ghana was not an option.
We still wanted to adopt within Africa since we then had our hearts set on that after months of research and picturing our future mixed race family. We also read a lot of books on transracial adoption and we were pretty excited to take on the challenge. We looked into South Africa and had found a new agency and as we got the application and more details about the program, we found out we didn’t meet the medical requirements. *That’s another frustrating story on it’s own*. At that point we weren’t too sure what to do…. We had no country choices and no agency and we were back to square one in February 2009.
Jon and I had saved up to go on a vacation in March 2009 for 12 days to Costa Rica. We wanted to re-do our honeymoon since the first one was a disaster – Typhoid Fever. Bleckh. We took that time to pray and think and talk and figure out what we wanted to do. We had been struggling with the LONG process of waiting with International Adoption and all the changes, and rules, and regulations and the cost. After all we had been through, the idea of local adoption had been growing on us. We decided to pursue the local adoption process – publicly through the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton (CAS). At that point, we’d been living in hamilton for 9 months, the city had continued to grow on us as we learned more about it. We couldn’t ignore the need in the city… And after working in social services in Hamilton I see the devastating effects of dysfunctional and abusive homes. The more we thought about it, the more we thought that it made sense. We still saw ourselves having a mixed race family and we were still open to adopting a sibling group.
We did our preliminary registration at CAS and went to an introductory meeting and after finding out that the process takes a minimum of 24 months to get your training and home study completed, we decided to do those privately. We had already found a PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) trainer and a home study worker that we were going to complete those with when we were pursuing international adoption, so it made sense that we just continued with that. We also could get that done very quickly because of our previous plans. It was a no brainer.
We completed our training, our homestudy and all necessary paperwork in June 2009 and it was submitted to CAS in the beginning of July 2009. The waiting game began!
We received a call on Friday, April 9, 2010 from our caseworker telling us a tiny little bit of information about a sibling group that was available for adoption. And by TINY, I mean TINY. Only names and ages – that’s it! On a Friday afternoon, that was difficult that we had to wait the whole weekend to meet with CAS on Monday morning. We had been chosen by CAS as the first choice for these two little ones. We weren’t among the top choices – we were the first and only choice. We went into CAS to review the file and get all the information on Monday, April 12, 2010. Just 40 weeks (A REAL PREGNANCY) after we had submitted our paperwork, we were matched with our kids.
We went to CAS to get the kids story on Monday, April 12, 2010 and after 2 hours of discussion and question we made a decision – they are ours. All ours. We had to wait a few more days to meet them, which was on Friday, April 16, 2010 and we continued visitations until they were ready to join their forever family.
AMARIS NORA LYNE WILLIAMS (Born September 2, 2009) came home on Friday, April 23 and MAKAI’O EZRA LEVI WILLIAMS (Born May 6, 2008) came home on Monday, May 3!
Our adoption was finalized and completed on September 2, 2011. A special day, since it was Amaris’ 2nd Birthday. When we found out that it had been completed we celebrated the completion of our family!