Adoption can be complicated, especially adopting from overseas, but also incredibly rewarding: That's the message Sarah Cross is bringing to her talk at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Thursday.
Originally from Westminster, but now living in New Oxford, Pa., Cross adopted two children from Ethiopia and would like to share that story with other people considering growing their families through the adoption process.
The Times recently interviewed Cross about her adoption experience and what she plans to address in her talk on Thursday.
Q: You are the mother of two adopted children and will be giving a talk about adoption experiences at the library on Thursday. What will you be covering and who is the talk geared toward?
A: I am hoping to gear my talk toward people who have thought about adding a child to their family through international adoption. I always hear "why Ethiopia?" Or "is it expensive?" I would love to answer anyone who has questions. I also plan to share our adoption story, and I hope that it will encourage others.
Q: What has been your experience with adoption, both personal and any other work you've been involved in? What led you to pursue adoption?
A: We first started adoption about eight years ago after deciding that fertility treatments were becoming too overwhelming. The physical and emotional stress was just too much. The second we decided we would pursue adoption it was like huge weights had been lifted. Our faith is important to us. We knew that this was God's plan for our family. Our first adoption took us almost a year to get all the paperwork in. But once it was submitted, the process was fast. We had our first son home a year later.
Our second adoption was a whole different story. It took us three years to be matched with our son and he came home a year later. I think adoption has been one of the most challenging things my husband and I have been through. The paperwork, the wait and all the unknowns. Then you bring your child home and that's when the hard work really starts. We have a lot of support from our adoption agency Bethany Christian Services. I am not really sure where we would be had we not had their post-adoption services.
Q: In your experience, what are the most common questions of parents/potential parents considering adoption?
A: The first question I always hear is "How much does it cost?" Well, for some people it costs the same amount as their car. I want to encourage families that if the price tag is the only thing holding them back then talk with someone about options. There are loans and grants and donations that will help greatly with covering the cost. I get asked about why we chose Ethiopia, why is it so hard to adopt and why did we choose to adopt an older child. I would love to cover those questions and many more on Thursday.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about adoption that you encounter? Are there any myths you would like to bust?
A: I hear all the time by well meaning people about how lucky my children are to have us. The truth is, I am lucky to have them. All children who are adopted have been through loss and trauma. And expecting that a child should feel "lucky" after all they have been through is pretty unreasonable.
Q: Parenthood always comes with its unique challenges and rewards. What are the challenges and rewards unique to adoption that those considering it should know?
A: There are many challenges raising children who have experienced loss and trauma. It changes the way their brain works. There are many great books and resources available to families who are interested in adoption and how to deal with issues that their children may have. The rewards are the baby steps your child takes toward becoming a real part of your family. The first time they reach for your hand or give you an unprompted hug. The first time they get hurt and they look to you as their parent and protector. Those moments are pretty huge.
It's reported that there are more then four million orphaned children in Ethiopia. I know that our family can't change the world but we know that we did change our children's world. And I hope that we can encourage other families to do the same.