Shortly after my husband Tim and I got married, we knew God would grow our family through adoption. We prayed for nine years until we both felt like God was moving us forward. Our first adoption was in 2008 and was domestic. In 2010, we adopted again from Children of the Promise in Haiti.

We were blessed to be surrounded by many adoptive families, as we knew there were going to be hard things with our adopted children due to the grief, loss, and trauma they had experienced before coming to live with us. While we began walking down that road of healing for our children, our oldest biological children began to encourage us to adopt again.

As we struggled with daily life of simply working for our children to trust our love, we were emotionally exhausted. We began to pray and ask God to make it very clear if this was what He intended for us.

During this time, one way that we felt like we could keep working toward orphan care without entering into adoption again was to do a fundraiser for the second foster care home at COTP. At the time, COTP was transitioning into a new model of care where the children in the adoption process would move into smaller foster care homes, called child homes, in order to provide the healthiest environment for the emotional, physical, and spiritual growth of each child. It was amazing to see our community not only come around this new vision, but to be a part of making this transition happen. During this time, we were able to meet the couple who were moving to Haiti to serve as the foster parents of this home.
In the months following, God had been working in the background and He made it very clear to us, once again, to pursue adoption. So we did.  Months after, we were matched with our Rose. That same day, we found out the child home she would be living in was the house we helped raise funds for and that the couple we met were going to be our co-parents!

I cannot tell you, as an adoptive mom, how hard it is to know that your child is growing up without you being able to see all of their great milestones and without knowing if they are having their needs met. However, this time was different.

We knew that when Rose needed a hug, extra care if she were ill, or a snack if she were hungry, were met with the intense love of her foster parents and nannies. I could rest in total confidence that she knew she was loved!

On our socialization visit, we got to experience life in the Joy house, Rose’s child home, and honestly, it scared me. I could see how much she loved all her friends and caregivers in her home and how happy she was. Would she resent us for taking her away from this family? I began to feel like this new model of care was great in theory but I started to question how it would play out in real life.

As we got closer to bringing her home, we began sharing more between us. I watched as her foster parents, Seth and Melissa, unselfishly talked about how excited they were for her to go to her new home. She loved them so much and trusted everything they said and through that, she began to grow a love for us too.

When we arrived in Haiti to bring home Rose, I was still nervous to see how this would all play out. The day we went to see her, we were walking across campus until Rose and I saw one another. We ran towards each other and she jumped into my arms, wrapped herself around me, and called me mom. I watched as her COTP family put on a brave face and said goodbye. She borrowed their courage as she was about to step into her new world.

Once home, I began seeing a remarkable difference in the model of care. She wanted to feel my loving arms around her and wasn’t afraid of it. She used words to communicate with siblings about feelings and she was even sleeping through the night and eating the right amount of food! She slotted herself right in as a member of our family.

These may seem like small things but they were huge to me as I watched her mental and emotional health from the years in the Joy house take bloom here.

We have been able to stay in touch with her house and she loves to share all her new experiences with them. We talk about her family in the Joy house in positive ways that continue to make her feel connected to them. We still consider it co-parenting and hope that through all her milestones Seth and Melissa are still a large part of those. I cannot say enough of how grateful I am for her to have had those years of being fully loved and known in a home that really is our extended family.
Sara VanZee
Adoptive Mother, 2016