Facing the future as a family: Airman reflects on events that led to adopting sibling group

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher L. Ingersoll
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Adopting children was something I wanted to do since I started thinking about having a family. It was also one of those things that always seemed inconvenient, daunting and too expensive. 

So, after the birth of our third child, my wife started to bring up the subject with increasing regularity, and at the time I kept dodging it. I didn't want to take on more responsibility to my new military career and family, and eventually we stopped talking about it. 

Sometime later I volunteered to deploy to Balad Air Base, Iraq, augmenting a National Guard unit which was short of people. While I was there, I made daily trips to the hospital to help out however and wherever I could. One evening I was working in the emergency room when some Iraqi civilians were flown in. They had been injured by a roadside bomb and were in bad shape. 

One little girl about 8 or 9 years old was brought in on a stretcher. She had been thrown from the vehicle and sustained a great deal of road rash. Her parents were killed in the explosion, but somehow she survived. My heart broke for this little girl who was in so much pain, who would find out only too soon her parents were gone, and she was alone. 

Days went by as she recovered, and no extended family could be found. No one came to see her, and I got the feeling no one would. I asked the nurse on duty what would happen to her, and I was told she would eventually go to the Iraqi hospital. Then, if she survived, they would send her to a relative where she would most likely live the rest of her life scarred, blind and undesirable for marriage in the Iraqi culture. Already knowing the answer, I asked if I could take the girl home where my wife and I would take care of her. 

The answer was an unsurprising, "No". 

After seeing other orphaned children with little hope for the future at that hospital, I returned home with a different frame of mind. I wanted to adopt, and my fears of it were far removed from my thoughts. My wife was excited to see my change in attitude, and with renewed vigor we began the process. 

We talked about what we wanted and why. We decided we wanted to adopt a sibling group who was perhaps a little older than our own children, mostly because those are the kids who don't get adopted very often. 

After a very short time, we found an agency that worked in fostering to adopt. The cost was very low, and the process was relatively hassle-free. They looked at our home, and we went through a series of interviews to determine what kind of parents we were. After about six months we were qualified to adopt. 

We found three kids on a Virginia State adoption Web site that posts pictures of children and their social workers telephone number. I called the social worker daily until we could arrange a meeting with the kids. I was very nervous the first time we met, but at the same time I was excited for my family to grow. Within a short time the kids were making weekend visits, to see how well they would fit in. 

Then finally, they moved in. 

The first thing to go after they moved in was my delusions about what it would be like having adopted children in our house. I somehow imagined children who would have emotional problems and insecurities, but who would be thankful to have a permanent home and who would be interested in working through those issues together. 

That simply was not the case. 

They had emotional problems, but didn't seem in the least bit interested in working through them. They didn't seem to want parents, weren't thankful to be in our home, told us we were horrible for enforcing the rules and were mean to our other children. They were real kids with real problems, and they were kids who would require more of me than I ever would have thought I could give. 

It has since been eight months, and there are good days and certainly there are bad days. I've seen my wife and I be the parents we said we never would be. But I've also seen us be better than I imagined we could be. There still aren't any simple answers, and the progress feels very slow. But, in spite of all the challenges we have faced as a family, I've seen us become just that - a family. 

And, that's exactly what we wanted to give them from the start.