Introduce your family:
We are Meredith and Kevin from Bloomington, Indiana.
What led you to adoption and international adoption?
My wife is Canadian, and I’m American. Choosing between either of our countries would have been difficult.
What country did you choose to adopt from and why did you choose that country?
We chose Bulgaria because it seemed like a very systematic process. We were also vaguely familiar with the plight of the Roma people in Europe. They are frequently the scapegoats for European economic woes; thus they encounter a great deal of prejudice.
Why did you choose to work with MLJ through your international adoption process?
We wanted to work with an agency that was nearby so could have face-to-face assistance in the adoption process. Once we went to an open house and learned more about them, we felt very comfortable.
How long did the adoption take you?
How has international adoption impacted your family?
Our family has doubled in size. Prior to adoption, it was just the two of us and our fantastic dog, Cormac. Incidentally, Cormac—a shepherd—is pretty happy about having a larger flock to wrangle. Workwise, we’ve had to change some priorities. We are both educators. In the past, we brought lots of work home. Now we try to minimize that so we can spend more time with the kids.
What was adjustment like for your family?
Initially, the adjustment was difficult. The kids had experienced little structure in their lives. Furthermore, our oldest son was one of the oldest children in the orphanage, and that had its benefits for him. He was able to play with anything he wanted when he wanted. Plus, he was accustomed to both looking out for his siblings and bossing them around. He had to relinquish that control when he came to live with us, and that’s been difficult for him, but he’s making huge strides. His brother and sister are becoming more independent and assertive. That is great for them, but it sometimes frustrates the oldest child. As parents, the most difficult part of the adjustment is behavior management. Our children had been transferred to a different orphanage just a couple weeks before we returned to Bulgaria to bring them home. The staff there advised us that the children were good kids but they needed discipline. We used the 1-2-3 Timeout method for a little while. Now we have modified that a bit, and it seems to be working fairly well.
What do you wish you could tell other families that are adopting or considering international adoption?
Have realistic expectations. It is a rewarding experience, but there are lots of tough moments too. Related to that, find a way to manage your stress because when nerves are raw, it’s far too easy to take that stress out on your partner.
Is there a special story about your adoption that you would like to share?
I could share many, but here are two. First, a funny one: Upon arriving at O’Hare International Airport after our exhausting transatlantic journey, we went downstairs to the immigration area. I thought it would be a good idea for everyone to use the restroom before we got in line. I took the two boys with me, and my wife took our daughter. No one was in the restroom, and I showed the boys the low urinal they could use. I then went to the adult-size urinal on the other side of the barrier wall. When I finished, I was horrified to see one of my sons holding the urinal screen in his hand as though he had found a treasure. The older boy looked on approvingly, obviously impressed with his brother’s discovery. In their defense, it was probably the first time they’d experienced a urinal because they used toilet stools at the orphanages. Now for a touching one: When our daughter and son collided on their new bikes. Our daughter immediately got up and threw herself into her mother’s arms. It was clear to us at that moment that she knew we were there to comfort her. We were there to protect her. We were there to love her.
If you are interested in learning more about international adoption, please contact us. We’d love to hear your adoption story! If you have brought your child home and are interested in being featured in our Adoption Stories, please contact Sheri.