An excerpt from Kelly's book "Sailing to Jessica:"
“Guess what?” Paul said as he bounded down the companionway steps. “There are two babies available for adoption: a baby boy and a baby girl.”
I looked at him bewildered.
“There was a message from Dolly at the hotel’s reception desk, so I called her,” he explained, then blurted, “Kel, can we adopt both of them? Please?”
“No,” I said firmly, shaking my head at his beseeching smile. “We are on a boat, in the middle of nowhere. We know nothing about babies.”
That was true. Before we left to go sailing, none of my girlfriends had children, neither did my sister or Paul’s sister. While Barbara on Sueno gave birth in New Zealand, we rarely saw her as her days were occupied with the baby, and ours with boat repairs. I mentally counted: it had been over 20 years since I last babysat! Figuring out what to do with one baby would be enough of a challenge.
Besides that, thanks to our IVF experience, we knew that having twins or triplets could cause additional marital stress, and could potentially ruin a marriage. If we adopted two children at once, wouldn’t that be the same as having twins?
Paul was still grinning at me, hoping for two.
“No, no, no,” I added, just to be really clear.
Paul’s smile drooped for a second and then brightened again. “Okay, which baby do you want? Maybe we should go see them first. Dolly said she could arrange for us to visit them.”
While it was tempting, it felt wrong.
“No,” I said, sitting down to collect my thoughts. “We are not window-shopping for a baby. How would we choose? And how would we tell one set of parents that we don’t want to adopt their child, after we visit them? That’s not how it’s done -- ” my voice faltered. Who was I kidding? I didn’t really know how any of this was done.
(Kelly's note: Our adoption occurred without any adoption agency involvement so we were literally forging our own way in this remote Pacific island, including the paperwork for US Immigration.)
The Joy of Being Adoptive Parents
When we discovered that we couldn't have children, our first thought wasn't to adopt. Now that I have two beautiful, fabulous, smart, sweet - and adopted - children, I wonder why that was. Our Marshallese son, Nick, is three years younger than Jessica.
I wouldn't change my children for anything in the world. So what if they don't look like Paul and me? I think they are actually cuter than any children we could have produced...and I am under no false illusions that these kids are "mini-me's." (Even though they sometimes act like me - talk about an eye-opening experience!)
We are lucky because we know our children's birthmothers. Yes, I think that is a good thing - and I don't feel threatened by them. After years of changing diapers, feeding them endlessly, taking them to school and swim lessons, wiping away their tears, hugging and loving my children, I am their mother. When they are afraid, or hurt, they come running to me. But we have the advantage of being in touch with the kids' birth moms. We recently flew back to Tarawa when Jessica was six years old and saw her family there - what a wonderful experience! So I can now tell Jessica that she looks just like Mommy Tiana when she laughs and wrinkles her nose. And I think that helps "ground" Jessica, to know where her looks and some of her mannerisms come from. When Nick is a little older, we intend to visit his Marshallese family as well.
When Jessica first started school in Australia, she was standing in line with some of her classmates. I overheard one child ask, "How come your mom doesn't look like you?" And Jessica rolled her eyes as if it was the most usual thing in the world and responded, "Because I am adopted!" How cool is that?! To have a self-assured daughter. Hopefully that will continue thoughout her teens...and thoughout her life.
I highly recommend adoption; it will change your world as well as your perspective of the world. And it will change you. :)
What are folks saying about Paul and Kelly's adventure?
"This book had me tears and that happens very rarely. A true life sailing adventure of a very committed couple with a happy ever after. Love it." - Bridget on Amazon.com
Buy at Amazon (USA)
Buy at Amazon (USA)