November is National Adoption month. It surrounds the time of Thanksgiving, an appropriate setting to commemorate family and blessings.


November is National Adoption month. It surrounds the time of Thanksgiving, an appropriate setting to commemorate family and blessings.
If that isn’t festive enough, today is also National Adoption Day, an annual time for celebration and finalization of adoptions all across the country.
It was around this adoption-themed time more than a decade ago Terry and Kristi Monroe of McPherson were making their final preparations to adopt their first child.
Now, with their family of four, including Breana, and Meghan, a second child they adopted four years later, they can acknowledge this season of thanksgiving and look back upon the time with happiness.
“It's all a God thing,” Terry said. “We thank God for everything every day, whether it’s Thanksgiving or not.
“It is hard to imagine what life would be like without our girls. We have a very close-knit family, especially the mother and daughter connections, and we have met many wonderful people through our kids’ activities. Our girls consume most all of our time away from work during this season in our lives, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We would have missed out on so much if we would never have ventured into adoption.”

Journey
to adoption
The adoption journey began for the Monroes in 1998.
The couple was not able to have their own children and began pursuing adoption within the United States. But when nothing was heard from the agencies, an acquaintance from Kristi’s workplace suggested the Monroes consider international adoption as she had done. The acquaintance was a missionary in Guatemala and had adopted a child from the country.
Since Terry and Kristi already had discussed adoption and gone through several home studies, the planted idea quickly took root, although this was the first time they had considered adopting internationally.
They changed directions, but this route had its own set drawbacks.
“We had to go through all this paperwork and go through all this red tape,” Kristi said. “It probably took us a month to do it.”
Often, the paperwork was incorrect and had to be redone. The majority of it was done through regular mail, which took time.
“You hurry up and fill out your papers and then you send them and you wait, you hurry up and fill out more papers and then you send them and you wait,” Terry said.
This process and stories the two had heard relating to international adoption gave them some anxiety.
“My main question when we first started was, ‘If I go through and put money out, am I going to have a child in the end?’” Kristi said.
But after the process had moved along farther, the time to pick up their child seemed to bring the most anxiety.
“The hardest part was at the end,” Kristi said. “We booked (the flight) right before Christmas, and if you don’t get them by then, you have another month you have to wait because the adoption system shuts down for the holidays. You have to figure out all their rules.”

Making it official
But the process moved forward, and after about eight and a half months from the first sheet of paperwork, the Monroes were headed to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. They had never been to the country before and had only seen pictures of their soon-to-be daughter.
Kristi said they were nervous and excited.
“You are nervous when you go into a country and don't know the language,” she said.
After landing in Guatemala City, they journeyed three hours down curvy, windy roads to arrive at the orphanage, which has since changed locations.
On Dec. 12, 1999, the Monroes had their new daughter, Breana, who was 10 and a half months old.
“It was good,” Kristi said of their first meeting. “She had lots of caregivers. It didn’t take her very long to get used to us.”
It was four years later when they adopted their second daughter, Meghan, from the same orphanage. This time, their daughter was brought to the United States, and on Dec. 24, 2003, eight-and-a-half-month-old Meghan was the newest and latest edition to the Monroe family.
“It is an emotional roller coaster ride,” Terry said.
Since that time, the Monroe family has been to two Agency Adoption reunions in Wichita. The individuals who ran the adoption agency were originally from Wichita, and all individuals from the United States who had adopted children from Guatemala were invited to meet.

Guatemalan block
The number of families adopting children from Guatemala has significantly decreased recently. That is because, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, the Guatemalan National Council on Adoption announced in 2008 that they will no longer accept any new adoption cases at this time.
In 1999, the year Breana was adopted, there were 1,002 adoptions from Guatemala to the United States. That number increased almost every year and reached a peak of 4,726 in 2007.
However, in only two years, the number plummeted to 754 and by 2010 was a mere 50. Now, no adoptions are being processed out of Guatemala.
According to CNA, the halt is to enable them to work on establishing guidelines to use in accrediting adoption agencies and to focus on completing transition cases.
    
Breana and Meghan
Breana, now 12, is a seventh-grader at McPherson Middle School. She plays piano, guitar, but her real passions are in basketball and tennis.
“I like to be active and play sports,” she said.
Meghan, now 8, is a third-grader at Eisenhower Elementary School. She plays piano and tennis and enjoys dancing, where she has made many friends.
“We’re kind of a little closer now,” she said of those she has made.

Advice
For families considering adoption, the Monroes offer some suggestions.
“It's a good thing,” Kristi said. “I’d prepare them for the rollercoaster ride because it’s not easy. It’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of emotions, but it’s worth it all in the end.”