If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you are aware that it is usually parents who send us blog posts to share of their experiences in adoption. We were recently privileged to receive an adoption story not from the parents, but rather from their teenage daughter who emailed our staff to tell us her thoughts on her parents recently adopting a toddler from China. As you’ll read below she has “wisdom beyond her years” and we knew our readers would enjoy this story from a teen’s perspective. Our staff responded back to Kristen and asked her permission to both share her story as well as to contact her parents and receive her family’s consent to post this story on our blog. She was thrilled that we would post her story and her family was beyond touched and proud when they heard that she would open up and share these thoughts with us about her sister’s adoption process. We hope you enjoy reading about the adoption process as viewed through the eyes of a sibling.
My family has recently adopted a 2 1/2 year old BEAUTIFUL girl from China. I'm not the mom, nor the father. I'm her sister. I want to share my story on the long emotional (but rewarding) journey. I'm 15 years old. I have two younger brothers who are 9 and 12. My parents are pastors at a newly planted church. We got the idea to adopt when God laid it on my dad’s heart to adopt from China. It sounded so crazy, but by far the coolest thing ever. We started our process in 2012 and we were approved to get a 2-3 year old girl from China. It was such an exciting time for my family!
We went through more paperwork that took forever and eventually in July of 2013, we got our referral! A beautiful 2 year old girl from Shaanxi, China. She had a repaired cleft lip, but not a repaired cleft palate. I'd never been so happy. We cried, laughed, jumped-a little bit of everything. Time went by and we got an update on Jenna (what we have named her). I'll never forget it, we were in Legoland in Florida when we got the email. Again, we cried, laughed, etc. In late July we requested to adopt her and four days later on July 29, received our official referral approval from China! It was so exciting. Later, we got our travel date to depart from the U.S. on October 17, 2013.
Just when we thought things couldn't get more chaotic with school, marching band, sports... God throws this travel timeframe at us. It was the hardest two weeks ever with my parents being gone. Having to teach my grandmother our schedule, and not to mention drama at our church at the time. It was very hard on me. I can't count how many times I cried in my room. Little did I know how worth it she would make it. My parents came back to America October 31, 2013 with our baby sister. It was hard at first connecting and her getting used to us. She finally got comfortable with my brothers and me. We made the mistake of throwing new people at her too soon and it initially caused attachment concerns, but we realized this and began setting boundaries with other people. She needed to connect and bond with us before she bonded with anyone outside of immediate family. I encourage anyone else in our situation to do the same to prevent emotional damage on him/her.
Our adoption process has been an emotional roller coaster, but my goodness, it's so worth it. I can't imagine life without Jenna and I'm so in love with her. She has touched my heart in ways no one can and I thank God every day for her. I would like to say to anyone considering adopting- I'm not going to sugar coat it for you. It's emotionally, physically, and financially exhausting, but it's the best decision you'll ever make. Jenna has made this whole process more than worth it. When you're finally holding your baby, there's no other joy that could come over you.
-Kristen Cassada, age 15