by Lindsey Gilbert, Family Engagement Coordinator for Madison Adoption Associates
MAA’s newest adoption program opened in the Dominican Republic recently, and we expect it to be a small program. This is partly because it is a small country, but also because it requires a longer period of travel than other programs: anywhere from two to four months in the Dominican Republic. Such long travel just isn’t feasible for many families, but in today’s world, with endless ways to connect, you might be surprised at your family’s ability to live somewhere else for an extended period of time- and what better reason to do so than giving a child a family?
While it wasn’t two months, and it wasn’t the Dominican Republic, my husband and I had a somewhat long trip for our daughter’s adoption from India. We were there for six weeks. The logistics are easier than you might think; many jobs these days can be done remotely, as my husband did on our trip, and we had an apartment to stay in for most of the time. There were aspects of our long stay that were amazing, and aspects of it that were very challenging.
The biggest positive was that we got to know our daughter in an environment that was comfortable for her. We could spend days visiting her in her foster home, seeing what she was like there, and letting her get used to us before we took custody. Even after we took custody, we were in a place with all her familiar foods, smells, and sounds, so she could adjust to being with us for a while without having to adjust to many other changes at the same time. She needed some low-key days after we took custody, so had we only been in India a short time we probably wouldn’t have been able to sightsee. We were able to wait until she was more comfortable with us, and then go see some of the famous sites in her city, which are precious memories for all of us! All the time also meant we could afford to spend days just walking around our neighborhood and seeing what India was like on an ordinary level. We got to build relationships with people in India, like our neighbors who invited us over for dinner and helped us when we were fruitlessly trying to order our own takeout the first few days. Ultimately, it was a really sweet time just being a family of three- we celebrated Christmas, New Years, and her birthday as a family in India!
That said, while there were so many blessings, it wasn’t a period of time we would call easy. While we were in a familiar environment for our daughter, my husband and I were away from everything familiar to us: friends, home, bed, dogs, foods, etc. Many of the things we usually turned to for comfort or to de-stress weren’t options in India for one reason or another, so we had to learn to cope in other ways. Everyday things were more challenging and required planning: going to the grocery store, doing laundry, making dinner, etc. The time difference was also hard for us when communicating back home, but fortunately the Dominican Republic usually has the same time as the East coast of the US!
Overall, our six weeks in India were a blessing for our entire family. The memories will last a lifetime, and we dream of going back someday to explore our daughter’s homeland again with her. I hope this gives you some food for thought as you consider whether your family might be up for an extended adoption trip! Though it was stressful at times, ultimately we would do six weeks again, and more, because it meant we got the privilege of being our daughter’s family.
Interested in learning more about adopting from Dominican Republic? Please visit our website! Or email LindseyG@madisonadoption.org for more information.