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Our First Choice

I always knew I wanted to grow my family through adoption.

by Tracy Antonelli

Our adoption story doesn't start with years of infertility, rounds of failed IVF, and coming to terms with loss. It starts with a simple dream: to have a family. And for us, the only way we wanted to have a family was through adoption.

When I was very young, I knew that I wanted to adopt a little girl from China. Stories of the one-child policy made a strong impact on me. I grew up, got married to a wonderful man, and we spent nine years having the longest honeymoon ever before we thought about starting a family. But then I heard that the climate in China adoptions had changed and that instead of healthy baby girls who had been abandoned at birth, Chinese orphanages were overflowing with children who had special needs. When I learned that one of these special needs was thalassemia, I knew that someday we would be parents to a little girl from China with this disorder.

I was diagnosed with thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder, as a little girl. My parents didn't know they carried the trait until they had me. In the United States, people with thalassemia live full, mostly typical lives. This is not always the case in other countries. When I told my husband that children with thalassemia were being abandoned in China, he agreed that this was how we'd build our family. Having a child who shared our DNA didn't matter to us. Giving a family to someone who needed one trumped everything else.

I casually looked at special-needs children who were available for adoption on websites and through e-mails. On Memorial Day weekend in 2011, I received an e-mail from RainbowKids. I clicked on it and saw the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. Her big, brown eyes looked right into my heart. But it wasn't the picture that sent my heart racing. It was the word under her picture: Thalassemia. My voice was barely audible when I tried to call my husband over to look. I asked him, "Should we adopt her?" Without hesitation, he said, "Definitely." It was the easiest decision we had ever made.

That was the start of our amazing journey halfway around the world and back to make our family. We could have dodged the long flights, intrusive questions, and tons of paperwork by having biological children, but adoption was our first choice.

Today, our daughter is a healthy, happy, courageous little girl who touches the heart of everyone she meets. It isn't always easy, but not a day goes by when my husband and I don't say to each other how lucky we are. It has been such a wonderful experience that we are currently in the paper chase for another little girl with thalassemia, from China.

 

TRACY ANTONELLI is a clinical researcher turned stay-at-home mom to one daughter from China. She lives with her family in Arlington, Massachusetts. Follow their journey as they pursue a second adoption at linguineorlomein.blogspot.com.

PHOTO: Emmilene Yiquan (3, China) with her parents, Patrick and Tracy, at home.

 

PARENT-TO-PARENT: Sharing Our News

On our Facebook page we asked readers: After you decided to adopt, who was the first person you told? What did he or she say? Here are some of your responses:

  • "My mom, and she said, 'You'll be a wonderful mother.'"
  • "My sister, and she started crying for joy. We both suffered from infertility. She had three miracles, but my husband and I had nothing after trying for 12 years."
  • "My parents, and they said, 'Yes, yes, yes!'"
  • "Our parents. We had good and bad reactions, but all is great now."
  • "We told my sister. She said, 'God has a plan for you.' My family has been so supportive!"
  • "My sons, and they said, 'Can we name her?'"
  • "My grandmother. She said, 'Ooh, you're not going to get one of those black babies, are you' We don't talk to her these days."
  • "When I decided to adopt, the first person I told was my 10-year-old son. He said, 'Now I won't be alone anymore.'"
  • "My parents, and they said, 'At last!'"

Did you always know you wanted to adopt? Share your story at the Adoption as a First Choice group on Adoptive Families Circle.

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