Area families share adoption stories

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 11/12/96.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, a focus on families created through adoption and on those children still waiting for adoptive families. Advocates from organizations like HOPE Adoption and Family Services in Stillwater, Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities work hard to promote positive adoptions and spread the word that adoption is a great way to build a family.

In the Paynesville area, there are many families who have adopted infants from within the United States, Korea, Guatemala, and Russia. For many of the area families who have adopted children, they adopted because they werent able to have any of their own children. For other families, they wanted to add a little cultural diversity to their existing family.
Sharing their adoption experience with the Paynesville Press readers are Rick and Diane Hoyme, Barb and Ric Koehn, Stan and Joanne Yarmon and Cecil and Mari Louis. All the families I talked with agreed, adoption is a waiting process. The Hoymes waited 14 months before getting word that Katie was theirs. When Katie was two years old, they decided to adopt another child, this time a Korean. It took almost four years before they received Laura.

The Koehns started their application in 1980 but at that time all Korean adoptions were put on hold. They started the process over again in 1983. The day after Mothers Day they got a call saying an infant was theirs and Kyung Sun Lim (Rachel) arrived in December.

Cecil and Mari Louis, rural Hawick, said it only took them six months before they received Ryan and two years for Jessica. The Yarmon family said they had two years of waiting before they received word they had a son, Jesse. Was all the waiting worth it? They all wholeheartedly agreed, yes!

Families tell their story...
Hoyme family

All of the Paynesville area families received infants or toddlers. Katie Hoyme was seven weeks old when she was taken from a foster home and given to the Hoymes. We were married four and a half years before we decided to adopt a child. As soon as both the girls were old enough to understand, we told them they were adopted, Rick and Diane said.

Diane explained they have what is called a closed adoption where the birth parents and the adopted parents remain confidential. Any correspondence that is made is done through the social service agency handling the adoption. Katie was adopted while they lived at Missoula, Mont., thus all correspondence goes through the social service office there.

Diane said Katies birth mother contacted them this year and wanted to know if her daughter was alive and well. Over the years, Diane has sent pictures of Katie to be placed in her adoption file. It is a little scary for adoptive parents when the birth mother makes contact, Diane said. Katies birth mother is very respectful of our privacy and wants to meet with Katie. She wants it to be a positive experience and will wait until Katie is ready for such a move.

When they decided to adopt again, they were told it would be a five to seven-year waiting period for a healthy caucasian. So they decided to try for a Korean child. Laura was born Bo Ra Yom and abandoned in an orphanage by her mother.

Diane said Katie has more questions about her adoption at age 16 than Laura, who is a fourth grader.

Koehn family
After having four children, a girl and three boys, Ric and Barb Koehn started talking about adopting. We checked out several adoption agencies before going with Lutheran Social Services. We were told we would not be able to get a white baby. If we would have taken a Korean boy or older children (7 or 8) we could havehad a child faster.

We wanted another girl after having three boys. We thought a Korean would be good to broaden the families understanding of others. Ric said when they made the application, all Korean adoptions were placed on hold. They started the process again and were told only children four years old and older were being let out of the country. Later the age limit was lowered to include toddlers.

Before Rachels arrival, the Koehns were given a list of things they needed to do entitled Before Your Child Arrives. The list included referrals, legal documents from Korea, commissioners consent, visa petition and approval, scheduling a flight and naturalization proceedings. Rachel was listed as abandoned, thus the state could place her for adoption quicker, Barb said. We were given her parents name and education background and they sent us pictures. Rachel lived with her mother until she was 15 months old. She spent from April to August of 1985 in the orphanage. Rachel was small for her age. She wore 12-month-old clothes when she was 20 months old, Barb said. An adoption counselor made a home visit prior to her arrival and came again after she was here to make sure she was happy.

Today Rachel is an active seventh grader in the Paynesville Area Middle School.

Louis family
Cecil and Mari Louis were married only two years when they made the decision to adopt a child. Compared to the other families, they only had a six-month waiting period before receiving Ryan. He was two weeks old when they received him. They were accepted in May and got word Ryan was theirs in December.

Mari said the year they adopted Ryan, the St. Cloud Catholic Charities only placed 23 babies in the entire diocese (23 counties). Three years later when they adopted Jessica that number had dropped to 18 babies. Jessica was five weeks old when they received her. We talked to the kids about their adoptions from the time they were old enough to understand, Mari said.

Ryan said it didnt make any difference they werent his birth parents, they are his mom and dad. Ryan said if his parents come looking for him hell accept them with open arms, but he doesnt see the need to seek them out. Jessica says she feels the same way.

The Louis family said it doesnt make any difference if the children were adopted or biological, they still tease and argue like normal teens. They consider Ryan their Christmas present since he arrived the night before Christmas. And Jessica is Cecils birthday present as she arrived the day before his birthday in June. The Louis said they were limited to adopting two children through Catholic Charities. We were impressed with the adoption agency as they kept us informed at all times. We could not imagine life without our two children. They generate so much activity in our lives, they added.

Today Ryan is a senior at Paynesville Area High School and Jessica is a sophomore.

Yarmon family
Stan and Joanne Yarmon were told when they started the process, they were too old to adopt. Joanne had children from her first marriage, but Stan didnt have any kids and they wanted a son they could call theirs. We were married four years when we started the paper work of applications. We went through a couple of adoption agencies but they would not take us as prospective parents. Stan at age 33, was too old, they said. The Crossroads Adoption Agency, Minneapolis, said they could find the Yarmons a child if they agreed to take a child from out of the country.

First they looked at India, but with the unrest in the country, that was ruled out. At one point we were told they had a girl, but that fell through, another time an adoption of a little boy was between us and another couple, that fell through, Joanne said. Then we were asked about Guatemala, and in a short time we were told we had a little boy. But then complications came up and Jesse needed an operation before they would send him to the United States. We were told to send cash for his operation. A lawyer brought the money to the country for us. Then we had to pay cash for an escort to pick up Jesse and bring him to Minneapolis, she added.

Every correspondence we received was in Spanish. We had to hire someone who could translate everything for us, the Yarmons said. The home study was real tough to do as they wanted to know all our good points as well as our bad points.

They said both their parents thought they were crazy for wanting to adopt a boy from Guatemala, but as soon as they saw Jesse, they changed their minds, Stan added.

Joanne and Stan said they were worried that the escort wouldnt be able to find them at the airport. As it turned out Jesse was a favorite on the plane. The escort told everybody on the plane Jesse was headed to a new family. When we found them, the whole plane knew about us and cheered and clapped. There must have been close to 200 people watching and clapping, Stan added.

As with the other families, the Yarmons explained to Jesse when he was old enough to understand about his adoption. We know nothing about his family except that his dad was killed in an accident and his mother was illiterate as she signed the adoption paper with an x, Joanne said. We have talked that someday we would go see what the country was like, they said.

Adoption process
About 300 Minnesota children are in a waiting category, according to the Minnesota Adoption Resource Network (MARN). Adoption is not just about babies, says Judith Anderson, MARN director. Adoptive parents dont have to be married or young or childless or own their own home or be rich. The adoption process is not as complicated as many think, she says.

The first step is to contact your local county social service office or a voluntary child-placing agency in the area. Most adoption programs require a series of classes, a home visit, several interviews, and a written document called an adoption study that summarizes your family and interest in adoption. This preplacement preparation phase takes about six months to complete, depending on the agency you work with and the kind of child you would like to parent. Agencies focus on the needs of each individual waiting child, and the time frame for placement varies greatly. Some agencies charge a fee for services, but financial aid is available for the majority of waiting youngsters moving into adoptive families.

Lutheran Social Services placed 68 children in Minnesota homes last year and are shooting for 75 this year, Patti Reynolds said. She added Lutheran Social Services is a very conservative firm working on the side of kids. We give notice to all parties involved and support the decisions of the birth parents and adoptive parents, Reynolds said.

We are seeing the trend reverse. At one time we were putting up 22 caucasion infants for adoption and that number was down to seven or eight a few years ago. Today, more and more teen moms are realizing that to place their child up for adoption is the better option and the numbers are back up in the 20s, Reynolds said. Many of the children they place in homes are from Columbia, South America and Bulgaria.

Area agencys include Catholic Charities, 320-252-1280; Lutheran Social Services, 1-888-205-3769 or HOPE Adoption, 612-439-2446.

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