By Katia Lopez-Hodoyan
For 10 years Rossy and Mario Elias longed for a child they could nurture, raise and care for. Yet year after year they were faced with disillusion. As a young married couple they both yearned for the parental responsibilities that would in essence transform their marriage of two into a family of many. Today, after a decade of waiting they have their hands full. Literally.
It was roughly a year and a half ago when Mario and Rossy decided to adopt a child. The combination of not being able to have children and a life long desire to help those in need, motivated both Rossy and Mario to seek out adoption. The connection was immediate they say. One day they saw her picture, the next they held her and on the third day Joy was part of the Elias household. The complete adoption process however, lasted a year and half. A short time to wait for a lifetime commitment.
“We had both been ready for this change for so long,” said Mario. “This was definitely the beginning of a special type of happiness.”
Three months after nine-month-old Joy was living with the Elias, the seemingly impossible became possible when Rossy became pregnant. Nine months later, Rossy gave birth to Esteban in July 23, 2004. This birth marked a culmination of what they had yearned for, for so long. A healthy daughter, a newly born son and a family unit.
“Our plans were not the plans of God,” said Mario. “He knew all along what was in store for us, and now it’s great to see how it all came together”
Even though the adoption process had not yet finalized when Rossy became pregnant, the connection they had with Joy since they saw her had made her part of the family from the start.
“Joy was a gift from God,” said Rossy. My son Esteban was a true miracle. They are both so special to us in their own unique way.”
Although at first Mario was hesitant to adopt a child, he now says that it was one of the best decisions he and his wife could have made. Joy whose name is self-explanatory has brought laughter and happiness to the Elias household. In addition, she’s now part of the thousands of children adopted during the month of November which has been recognized as National Adoption Month for over ten years.
“Adoption gave us the opportunity to give love and care to a girl who needed it,” said Rossy. “My friends tell me that my hands are full right now, but I tell them that they had been empty for ten years.”
Joy’s adoption was finalized in the San Diego County Juvenile Court where every Friday numerous adoptions are completed. From infants to adolescents, over 500 prospects were adopted in San Diego County last year alone. Others however, are not as fortunate. According to Juvenile Court Judge Carol Isackson, 65 percent of teenagers who are not adopted by the time they are 18 years old will be homeless by the time they reach the age of 20. Their search for a loving family and a place to truly call home is cut short as they continuously move from one foster home to another.
“Adoption is obviously the most permanent and safe plan for a child,” says Lynn Waldman who works for San Diego County’s adoption services. “ It’s the most consistent form of care, but we do face several challenges.”
Among those challenges is the crescent need for families willing to adopt minorities and children with special needs. Although there is a law called the Mepa Act which prohibits adoption agencies from having families wait for a child with a specific ethnic profile, Waldman agrees the numbers show a disproportionate adoption of minorities when compared to that of Anglo children. Thirty percent of children in need of adoption in San Diego County are Hispanic, five percent are African American and four percent are Indian Americans.
Fear of certain behavioral problems is also a challenge faced by many couples who hesitate adopting children. Although more than 40 percent of Americans have considered adoption at some point in their lives, an equal percentage believe that adopted children are more likely to have behavioral problems in school and other social settings. However, Michelle Madrid-Branch who authored a book on adoption, states that biological children and adopted children have similar outcomes in life. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was adopted as well as President General Ford, Jesse Jackson, singer Shanaia Twain and Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas to name a few.
Like any other couple the Elias family already has high expectations for their two children. They want them to be good citizens have good morals and excel at being respectful human beings. The list of hopes is never ending as they continue their journey into parenthood.
The list of children in need of adoption is large as well. The Elias opted for the concurrent adoption plan which gives the biological parents the opportunity to take back their child from their foster home, if and when they straighten out personal issues that provoke a dubious parenthood. If the effort fails, the adoption process is well under way with the foster care family the child resides with. Now Joy is officially part of the Elias household. Her biological parents lost their parental rights after the failed reunification efforts; thus, any possibility of having her biological parents take her back in the future is eliminated.
According to Madrid-Branch 82 percent of Americans, meaning four out of five, are concerned that birth parents might take their child back. Nonetheless, with the quick signing of a signature those fears should have no ground to stand on.
Nearly 30 million children throughout the world are in need of adoptive parents. In the U.S alone nearly 130,000 are currently in the foster care system searching for a family and a place to call home. In San Diego County, 150 registered children contribute to these statistics.
In order for the Elias to become adoptive parents of Joy they were subject to a number of preparation classes, inspections and training techniques to solidify their aptitude in parenthood. Now, after a year and a half of documentation and tests, the Elias enjoy a gift that is often taken for granted by many... A family.
For those who want to learn more of the adoption process and the multiple options provided, one can call 1-877-I ADOPT YOU for a complete listing of adoption services.