“A tiny plane blipped across a map of endless ocean at the front of the cabin. I gripped the plush blue arms rests. I battled claustrophobia while my three children, courageous and ready for this overseas adventure, raided the snack cart every time it squeezed past. My husband Jerry snoozed. It was November 1999.
Focus on the goal, I commanded myself. You are going to adopt your new children.
I grabbed my purse and fished out the precious Polaroids of Damian, Gregory and Ania, sent airmail from the orphanage. The prospective members of the Guire forever family looked directly at the camera, as if staring straight at me instead of the lawyer who had snapped the photos in a hallway of the orphanage:
Ania, a pumpkin-faced four-year-old gripping the drapes behind her, willing them to swallow her up; Gregory, a Peter Panish five-year-old sporting an Indian feather cowlick and mischievous eyes; Damian, a somber faced seven-year-old with a worried soul in a young body.
What compelled me to board a plane, fly to a foreign country and adopt strangers?
God in His wisdom built the foundation of society on the family: Adam, Eve, a beautiful perfect home, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve ate the only forbidden fruit and sin entered the world–the great divorce of heaven and earth. The first family was torn apart. Adam and Eve were ripped from the garden and from the connection with their heavenly Father”
Adoption is like walking in the middle of the movie and taking a seat. You didn’t see the beginning. You’re not exactly sure what sort of plot or family you stepped into. This paragraph gives you a bit of my story and you have joined me in the middle of it.
Jerry and I had the seed of adoption in our hearts when we married in 1985. We were in the midst of communications with a pregnant teen mom to adopt her infant (early in our marriage). She changed her mind at the last minute.
Ten years and three kids later, we opened the door to adoption again. We started with phone calls, information packets and not a lot of headway. Then an adoption coordinator called us from Huminska’s Anioly and asked us some pointed questions, “Are you going to fill out the paper work? Will you take three children?”
We said, “Yes!” to three and headed down the adoption road at full speed. Of course anyone who has traversed the adoption road knows that means at a snail’s pace most of the time. And yet, every time we filled out a document or put our finger prints on paper or had another visit for the home study, we felt as if we were one step closer to those children.
Two weeks before our travel date, we got a call from our adoption coordinator,Tracy, “there’s a baby! A younger sibling! Do you want him?”
“Of course!” We couldn’t imagine leaving the little on behind. Tracy didn’t know the sex of the baby or if he was eligible for adoption. She only knew through some research on the attorney’s end and a question while interviewing Damian who asked, “what about the baby?”
The judge said “NO!” to our pursuing the adoption of the infant. He was easier to adopt out and other Polish couple should get the chance. The Guire family flew to Poland with INS approval to bring back four children.
Front row: Hunter, Gregory, Ania and Rafal
The first meeting in Warsaw with our attorneys in a hotel lobby was tense. Jerry asked about the baby. “Forget about the baby! Focus on the three you came to adopt!”
We couldn’t let it go. We prayed. It was all we could do. We were in a foreign country with no power, no say in what would happen next.
“The next day dawned gray and cold, just like the one before. I felt as if I had entered an old black and white movie and I hoped it wasn’t a Hitchcock. I packed everything back in the suitcases and we hauled the luggage down to the lobby. We were traveling with Walter and Bartek to Pietrokow, where we would meet the Director of Orphans.
Walter was already surly-faced when he arrived. He rushed us out of the lobby into the stinging gray air. I was stuffed in the back of a small taxi with a seat belt embedded in my hipbone and a child on my lap. The windows remained permanently fogged, blocking my view of the city we were leaving and then the countryside as it flew by. My children, tired from the previous day, settled back into their seats and ventured an occasional, “How much longer?’
When dad came to pick us kids up for summer visitation, the departure was swift. We packed our bags in the trunk of his current car and rushed down the lane, leaving a trail of dust behind us, Mom growing smaller in the distance. This is the moment the fear gripped me. The familiar faded and the unknown lay before me. The tense anxiety choked me while my stomach churned. Down the highway we sped to another unknown destination; Dad rarely bothered to sit down and explain where we were going and what it would be like this time. The landscape changed from the hills of West Virginia to the bluegrass of Kentucky or the plains of Iowa, where once we raced beside a tornado as it ate up the fields beside us.
Every year, it was a new home in a new state. And every year, it was the same unstable summer, with our travel and activities dictated by someone else’s moodiness or alcoholism. New places did not fill me with hope. They were foreign landscapes with no known retreats or safe hideaways from the too-familiar emotional climate. The unrest filtered down to me and cemented my fear and presupposition: There is nothing good in the world.
This journey was not on my terms, it was on God’s. There was absolutely nothing I was in control of: when I could go to the bathroom or what mode of transportation I would use or what foods would be available to me. This was not about my comfort level. It was dependent on my trust level.
God does not hand out easy passes. What God requires of me is always greater than I think I can handle. If I would have succumbed to my fears, I would still be at home. I would probably be living comfortably with three children, but it would not have been God’s perfect will for me. It would have been trading something of eternal value for temporary ease. I would have gone through life feeling as if something were missing if I had ignored the still, small voice and listened instead to the bawling fear.
After several hours of driving, we pulled into the snowy little city of Pietrokow. The taxi wound around into the heart of the city through snow-covered narrow streets of old stone buildings. We skidded into an icy drive: the office of the Director of Orphans. She came outside to meet us. I leapt out of the car to drink in a breath of cool fresh air. Walter had already stepped out of his taxi and was speaking to her. Bartek appeared by my side and asked,
“She wants to know if you want to meet the baby?”
My mind whirled. See the baby? Meet the baby? Was this some sort of cruel joke?
“Well, yes, of course,” I answered quietly, scarcely daring to hope.
Walter spoke again and Bartek interpreted, “She wants to know if you want to adopt the baby. She says that she will speak to the judge for you.”
I suddenly felt giddy. In one day the impossible had become possible.”
The Guire family increased by four in January of 2000 and the four new Guires were able to join us in the states in February of 2000.
There is much more to the story and you can read it by ordering Positive Adoption: A Memoir in which I weave the story of my childhood with the story of my children’s adoption.
*All quotes from Positive Adoption: A Memoir