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Adoption

Personal Stories
My name is Miriam, and I live in Israel. We adopted a beautiful little boy. This is our story...

My husband and I met in the US (I'm American, he's Israeli) in 1997. Early on in our relationship we talked about adoption, and discovered that both of us had wanted to do this for many years already. In May 2000 we moved to Israel and started fertility (IVF) treatments. September 2001, right after Rosh HaShana (the Jewish New Year) we decided to go for it and sent in the application forms for adoption. The process wasn't very difficult. We met five times with a social worker, so she could get to know us and assess our needs. We had to take a 6 hour psychological exam to evaluate if our relationship is strong enough to "survive" the "stress" of adoption. Next was a 6 week pre-adoption course on parenting. Then we waited . . .

In the meantime I continued fertility treatments, without success. May 2001, after the fourth unsuccessful IVF I hit rock-bottom, emotionally. I couldn't look at babies or pregnant women without crying and lost all joy in life.

June 12th we got a call from our social worker. She told us that she found a baby! He was more than we asked for and less . . . since there aren't many Jewish babies available in Israel (cross-cultural adoption of Israeli children is not permitted. Jewish children go to Jewish families, Muslim children to Muslim families, Christian children to Christian families). The baby she found for us was 7 1/2 months old. His birth mother was 24 years old and a drug addict since age 16. She did not stop using during her pregnancy but was in prison from about the 12th week, so her access to drugs was very limited to small quantities. At the time we were contacted, the courts had not yet completely terminated her parental rights. The baby had been in foster care since birth. No one was willing to take him.

My husband and I thought about it for about 30 minutes and arranged to meet with the social worker so we could review the case file and health records of the little guy. We spent the evening researching the effects of pre-natal drug exposure. Somehow we had already decided that we would take him. Once we had copies of the case file we consulted with a cousin who's a well known pediatrician and a lawyer. To our delight we found out that the little boy was healthy as a horse. His APGAR values after birth had been excellent, his development right on target. However, at his last well-baby checkup he was found to have mild failure to thrive.

My husband and I saw him for the first time on June 16th at the children's welfare office in Jerusalem. We could hear him cry as we walked up to the door. Once we came in, we saw this beautiful little boy who looked at us with these electric-blue eyes, tears running down his face. He had been taken from his foster mother by a woman he didn't know, taken to a place that was unfamiliar and is entire world was upside down. We spent an hour holding and cuddling him. There were two more office visits and we took him home on June 19th. He came with a bottle and the clothes he was wearing. Talk about a busy week trying to get a nursery set up and learning what to feed a baby so we wouldn't kill him or cause him irreparable damage!

We named him Shai. The name is Hebrew and means gift. And a wonderful gift he has turned out to be. He became ours from the first moment we saw him and we didn't experience any attachment problems.

As of this writing our son is 2 years and 2 months old. He is healthy, smart, curious as a kitten and such a loving happy child. He started singing recognizable songs a few days after his second birthday. He sneaks into our bedroom whenever he can and plucks away at my guitar. He can sing the note he hears. We are so proud of him and love him so much. Our Shai, our gift is a delight.

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