My adoption journey began 8 yrs ago when my great niece was placed in the foster care system. She was 9 yrs old at the time, and desperately in need of a stable home. I sat down with my two biological children, ages 11 and 15, and together we decided that no child should ever be without the love and support of a family.
A year later I received a call about a sibling group of 3. They were just babies at newborn, 1 and 2 yrs of age, and I knew when I looked into those precious faces, that I would never be able to look away.
Today my children range in age from 6 to 23, and I am very proud to be the mother of these beautiful and unique individuals.
I enjoy sharing the details of how we came to be a family. The difficult part comes in admitting to the many struggles we have endured along the way, and in knowing we will always be a “work in progress.”
Like many in the adoption community, I went into this believing wholeheartedly that love trumps all. I've been a single parent for many years, and I've never held myself to the standard of being the “perfect” mom. I believed that as long as my kids had a strong foundation built from unconditional love and the support of knowing that they could always count on me – the rest would fall into place naturally. I wasn't prepared for a foundation built on neglect and abuse. I was devastated to learn that for these kids, trauma trumps love.
I immediately began to educate myself on the effects of trauma in childhood development. I signed us up for every program available, every class, every resource I could find. It wasn't until I had become involved with the services through AFSN, that I realized I was missing the most important piece of this entire journey. I had been trying to do this alone!
It started with a cup of coffee and the woman who is now my parent support partner, Deidra Artecki. What started out as a casual conversation between two mothers, opened the door to a world of opportunity . AFSN has walked with my family through both heartache and joy. They have sat with me through crisis moments until 4 in the morning, gone to IEP meetings at the schools, and given me valuable information on how to obtain the specific resources that my family needed to begin the healing process. They have been my voice in fighting for tax credits and therapeutic treatment options that I didn't even know were out there. Through AFSN I have taken classes where I learned not only why my children struggle, but how to parent differently in order to meet their needs.
Perhaps most importantly, I have had the opportunity to meet other adoptive families and to hear their amazing stories as well. Within this community there is an endless amount of love and support, and had it not been for that first cup of coffee, my family wouldn't be where they are today.
AFSN is unique because they don't just hand you the information, they walk beside you through it all. Everyday they work tirelessly in the adoption community to empower parents just like me to build strong, healthy family bonds. They tell us that these kids deserve our best, and then they teach us how to give it to them. They tell us that as parents we are strong, and then they support us until we believe it for ourselves.
April 2010, Martina Gifford had this to say after attending the Grand Rapids Ballet performance, “Every Ballerina Deserves a Super Hero Dancer” over spring break.
…Just wanted to let you know how much fun we had at the ballet! Thanks again for the opportunity to go. The show was great! The kids loved the bright costumes, the playful music and they were amazed at how flexible and” bouncy” the dancers were. They relish the keepsakes they made in the foyer while waiting for the show to begin. They made tiaras, capes and colored pictures. They talked about it days later! Thanks again for having us! Martina Gifford
February 24, 2010 Adoptive Parent and Support group volunteer had this to say about a meeting held at AFSN. The intent of the meeting is to formulate and a Case Statement for AFSN.
As I sat in the interview session yesterday and listened to the three of you share, I was reminded even more of AFSN”s impact in our community. It was exciting to hear how each of you have been able to “support” others in their quest for answers regarding many varied adoption issues. Thank you for being so willing to listen, care, guide, and seek answers. I’m so proud to be a part of AFSN and I’m so thankful for each of you.
A comment from Gloria B – February’s E-news prize winner of tickets for The Moscow Circus:
“We loved the circus. I took several pictures of the circus itself as well as our trip backstage. Those backstage spoke Russian to us, and I spoke my broken Russian to them and they were so thrilled to meet our kids.
Sasha, the director was so kind, and his English was very good. My son really loved “the skinny clown” and got to meet him backstage. The Clown said my son was smart and the lady clown said he was clever. It was simply a wonderful experience for our kids. Thank you so much.
I will send you the best pictures I took. You can choose which one(s) you want to use for the newsletter with my permission to use them.
Best wishes…and thanks again.
“MY EYES” – A Special Poem from Lisa Fox (adopted / biological mother) as written to her newly adopted child.
My eyes, They’re the window to my world.
The hurt they’ve seen. I can’t look in your eyes. My heart feels too much pain. Oh, the love I’ve wanted and not received… It’s too much to take in. You ask for me to look in your eyes…it hurts.
Your loves too much, It overwhelms me. How I long to receive. Is this really for me…Love, Family, this Reality?
Do I dare let my guard down? Will this love really last no matter what I do? I can’t know just yet. Please be patient with me as I allow my heart to receive.
To heal & mend from my broken past. The wounds they run deep. Just love me & hug me. This is what I need. I can’t look in your eyes…the hurt this brings.
Eyes I wanted to look at in my past wouldn’t look back at me. So I protect my heart and look away, but please look at me.
Don’t give up, your love is the key. Your eyes and consistent love will heal me.