Common threads have helped some local families with adopted international children weave a network of support.
Ten families with children from China meet every six weeks for informal gatherings that provide parents support and kids a fun time with others in a similar situation. Families considering adoption also find the group a welcoming place to explore their interest.
Sohailla and Tom Digsby, of Evans, joined the group in the summer of 2010 when they began the adoption process. With little information from the Chinese orphanage, the couple accepted tips from others who knew the process first-hand.
When the Digsbys flew to China to bring home their now 2-year-old daughter Elita, other local families who had left just days beforehand were returning with their children.
“We all came home with almost the same age baby girls at the same time,” Sohailla Digsby said. “It’s definitely a different experience you share. It’s questions you can’t always ask of parents that don’t have adopted children.”
Recently, the Chinese adoption group gathered for a Chinese New Year party, a rare opportunity the parents have to celebrate their children’s native culture with them. The party included a video-phone conversation with a local family that was in China bringing home their third adopted child.
Because several families have children with special needs, especially cleft lips and cleft palates, the parents exchange medical information and even use the same doctors.
After having three biological children, Cathy and Mike Cotter adopted Peyton, now 3, when she was 11 months old. Group members Ryan and Beth Draft adopted Mason-Kate, 2, from the same orphanage.
“It’s a chance for her to connect with other children from China. It’s also a chance for our older children to see families that are like ours,” Cathy Cotter said.
A similar group for families with children from Ethiopia had one meeting last fall and plans to meet again. Leslie Bullington, with one biological daughter and two adopted children from Ethiopia and China, finds friendship and support from both groups.
“We have all been through this profound experience and we have that connection through it all,” she said.
Bullington, also a volunteer with Reaching Hands Adoption Ministry of Warren Baptist Church, said the support groups can be vital to parents who need encouragement from others who recognize the challenges of adoption.
“Sometimes its hard for people who haven’t been through this to find the right words to say,” she said.