April 2, 2003
Dear Adoptive Parents:
As we near the two-month mark to when we first met our adopted daughter, in Albania, we wonder when and if our feelings of exhilaration and pure joy will subside. This expression of happiness is all due to having our daughter, Jaclyn Juna, safely home with us. Also, contributing to our happiness is the pre-adoption experience we had during the adoption journey; a journey we will forever remember with fondness, and share with our new daughter and family.
During the summer of 2001, we had set a goal to adopt a child internationally. After many anguishing attempts to adopt within Canada and other countries, we turned to Victoria O'Toole of Adoptionworx Canada to help us adopt a child. In January 2002, we met Victoria and she introduced us to her services, facilitating adoptions from Albania, and relayed her mission to us as to simply place great Albanian children into great Canadian families. It was just days after our first meeting, which lasted almost 3 hours, that we called for a second meeting with Victoria to sign a contract. We were most impressed with Victoria's conviction and felt that above all the other agencies with whom we had made contact, she was the most capable and dedicated to servicing the needs of the adopted child and that of the adoptive parents. Her very professional and comfortable manner allowed us to feel secure and confident that she would service our needs as adoptive parents, without losing sight of what is truly important: the child. We were well on our way to adopting our first child.
The administration stage of adoption is detailed and endless. The initial stage of preparing our dossier for admission to the Albanian authorities could not have been completed without the help of Victoria. She guided us along each and every step providing us with worksheets, an instruction manual, flow charts and guidelines. All of this helped us to understand the process. And such a process it is! Upon finalizing the dossier submission in the early spring of that same year, all we had to do was wait for a proposal.
Waiting for a proposal is not as easy as it seems. Not a month passed that summer without a call from Victoria giving us words of encouragement. She helped ease the wait, explaining that the time will come soon for a child to be proposed to us. She always informed us her whereabouts in case of holidays or business out of town, so that we could always reach her. Her attention to servicing us as expectant parents was certainly a big bonus to choosing Victoria and Adoptionworx.
A proposal was made to us in the fall of 2002. We still recall the circumstances of the evening when Victoria called us to break the news. Soon enough, the proposal video and reports were viewed, medical assessments performed; courtesy of Adoptionworx and the acceptance documents were signed. Our daughter was 18 months old at the time of referral. Victoria moved along immediately, preparing the required documents with the utmost care, attention to detail and accuracy, in order to execute the next step as quickly as possible.
Waiting to travel to Albania was the next step, and a step which we anguished over, because it couldn't come soon enough, but we persevered and a court date was set. We set out for Tirana, Albanian on January 21, 2003. It was at this stage that we realized that this journey with Adoptionworx was destined to be successful, for the agency was very well represented in Albania. They staff also showed genuine care and concern for the child's future and that of the new parents. We had never traveled to Albania before and had relied on Victoria's information and guidance on what to expect legally, customs and social norms and cultural expectations and traditions. With the help of her staff, our stay was made to be very comfortable, lacking nothing. With the help of the Adoptionworx staff, our adoption business was handled in a very professional manner. Nothing could have unfolded any better. We were close to the orphanage, so we met and bonded with our daughter daily, while finalizing the court proceedings in a timely manner. This was the goal set out for us during this visit to Albania, and we achieved such as was committed to us by Adoptionworx.
Adoptionworx's commitment to place Albanian children into loving families goes hand in hand with that of the Albanian Adoption Committee and its Chairwoman. It is apparent that these children are regarded highly. We found that the caregivers in our daughter's orphanage demonstrated warm, loving affection towards the children. This was apparent in our daughter's relationship with her primary caregiver, and the other caregivers with whom she was also affectionate and playful. This consistent, caring atmosphere and environment was beyond what we had expected to find. The ratio of caregivers to children was very high and the result of such care shows in our daughter, for she is well adjusted, attached and projects loving and confident behaviour. All the necessary equipment and supplies seemed to be at hand. It is no wonder why many of these children are healthy, possess happy dispositions and are beautiful looking children—children whom the Albanians are very proud of.
Our second visit remained positive in obtaining passports, birth certificates etc. to be able to bring our daughter home. It was sometimes tense, running against time to complete the necessary paperwork, and emotional taking our daughter from the orphanage. Departing Albania meant that we had to say good-bye to our daughter's Albanian "family". A "family" of many people who grew to become our Albanian friends, all of who contributed to the success of our positive adoption journey.
Life as parents is in full force now. Jaclyn Juna is showing neither signs of attachment difficulty nor any inappropriate developmental issues. Her behaviour, consisting of singing, laughing, active play, hugs and kisses and a great appetite, tell us she is adjusting just fine to her new home environment and that she is a very content little girl. We each day pinch ourselves and wonder if this entire splendor in our lives is about to take a turn. After some years of disappointment, we think that our turning to adoption was the very best path we took to achieving a family. And doing so under the guidance of Victoria O'Toole and Adoptionworx only reaffirms that we consulted with the best person to help us reach our daughter.
Nancy and Tony
Richmond Hill, (Toronto)