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Published Tuesday June 30th, 2009 at 7:04am

Original Article by Amanda W

Cindie Vertefeuille is an adoptive mother.

Tell us what you'd like us to know about YOU as a person.
There is no other person on the face of this earth that loves their children as much as me.

I am a very logical thinker and so adoption made so much sense to me.

Do you mind sharing how you became an adoptive parent?

Child #1
One bit of advice I got when I started wanting to adopt was the very best and I still give it often. It was to tell everyone that you want to adopt. You never know where the connection for your child will come from.
So, we started praying. One day we got a call from a youth pastor that we know and he had an 18 year old young lady in his church youth group that was pregnant and wanted to relinquish her baby for adoption. We said a loud yes, and a few months later, had the most beautiful baby girl that was ever born! The adoption was a semi-open adoption setting. It has been a wonderful experience. She is 24 now and we are so very close.

Adoption #2
After our daughter was about 15 mos. old, we decided that we would start praying for another child. We wanted to space them out perfectly, so we thought 3 yrs. apart would be fine and that would give the Lord a whole year and a half to answer our prayer!
So, we quietly started praying for another child to adopt and told no one that we were. This was also the time that my husband was publishing his first book and was under a deadline. The personal computer was a very new thing in 1987, and we had just spent our entire savings on our first computer - one that he could format his book on. One week after we started this daily prayer, AND the MOMENT we walked in the door from purchasing our computer - our phone rang. It was the attorney that had helped us with our first adoption. He lived 1,800 miles away now, so we had no idea why he would be calling us, presumably out of the blue.
The first words out of his mouth were, "you wouldn't happen to want to adopt another baby would you?" With interest, I said something to the effect of him having been hiding in our house somewhere while we were praying. I also asked him why he didn't call two hours ago when we had money! He quickly told us not to worry about that part, it would work its way out.
He told us that he had been trying to find a family for a 23 year old very pregnant young woman. He had shown her 10 resumes and she read them all and asked him if he had ANYONE else. He pulled our old letter out that we had written to the first birthmother, and when she read it, she said that she wanted to meet us, that we were the right ones.
She called us the next day and we talked for over an hour. I loved her instantly and she said she would let us know in a few days what her decision was. She called in a few days and said "Congratulations!" Of course, I screamed and cried and thought we had another three or four weeks. My little man decided to come into the world two weeks ahead of time. Altogether, it was one month after we started praying for another child, that our baby boy was placed in our arms.
The money part is a story in itself. Suffice it to say, God provided every penny of all of the adoption expenses. Keep in mind, neither my husband nor myself have any rich uncles or grandparents. It all came right in the nick of time in many different ways!
Another miracle.... and I am still CRAZY about this 22 year old son.

Adoption #3 & 4
We were very happy and satisfied with our little family of 3 children and two parents and were not looking to have any more additions. We were thankful for what God had given us.
One day we got a phone call from someone who had just spent the week helping at a camp for foster children, and she asked us to keep our ears to the ground in case we heard about anyone interested in adopting 2 little girls whose parents had just had their rights terminated. We said we would and afterwards, just looked at each other and both agreed that we had a feeling that we were supposed to adopt them! A few months later we had two more girls, at 7 and 9 years old.
This has been a heartbreaking experience. They are 18 and 20 now and have ripped our hearts out of our chests. I certainly HOPE the story is not over.

If you could give a message to anyone (or multiple people) what would it be?
Regarding adopting babies and the whole what and how do I tell them question, which was never really a question AT ALL, for me... here is how I see and have experienced it.

First of all, when you treat adoption like it was your second choice, the children feel it. Fortunately, for me, I did not give a rip HOW my children came to me, so that wasn't an issue. My approach was: BALANCE.

**First of all, it is part of their history & make-up, just as their brown eyes and short toes are. If you continually dodge and duck questions about it, they will start feeling like they should be ashamed of WHO they are! This includes questions from other people.

My children have heard me have this line of questioning with sincere, yet ignorant of what they were saying, people:

Interested Yet Ingnorant Person: "Now, you have some adopted children and some of your own don't you?"
Me, the Adoptive and Birthmother: (in a kind and understanding voice with no snottiness) "Why no, they are ALL my own!"
Interested Yet Ingnorant Person: "Well, YOU know what I mean...."
Me, the Adoptive and Birthmother: (in a still kind, but correcting voice) "I understand what you want to ask me, but I forgot which ones are adopted and which I gave birth to...sorry!"

You see, people who have not experienced adoption as I have, do not understand the passion with which I parent ALL of my children. Just because a child did not come out of MY body, does not mean they are not as valuable to me as the ones that did!

**Another VERY important thing I think that many adoptive parents do that is potentially (yet unintentionally) harmful to the adopted children is to make a big deal of it. They continually remind the 'adopted one' how SPECIAL they are! Just STOP it! Children don't want to be singled out for anything. Just treat them like any and all of your children.
I guess I'm not too big on "gotcha days" because of this reason. Everyone has a birthday - celebrate it! But the Gotcha Day singles out and points directly to their 'different-ness' (I just made that word up!)

**This one should probably be at the top of my list:
DO NOT allow yourself to be or feel threatened by birthmothers or the questions the children may have. If you avoid the questions and skirt the issues, they will sense it and become more intrigued by this 'mystery'. It can also make them feel ashamed and guilty of their birth circumstances.

I have always answered questions as they came up...honestly and without negative emotion. As a result, my children have not expressed a burning desire to meet their birthmothers. I have always told them that when they are mature enough and ready, I will help them find their birthmothers. I am the one who is asking them now and then if they think they are ready to meet them! I would LOVE to make the introductions! But since I never covered any facts or made them feel 'different' for being adopted, they have become very secure in who they are. I am certain that they will want to meet their birthmothers sometime in the future. The birthmothers have told me that they would LOVE to meet them, but only when the child is ready.

**Regarding adopting older children:
I am VERY mixed about this. Without going into my story of adopting my girls at 7 and 9 years old, I must is NOT for the faint of heart. .....and it is NOT the same as adopting a newborn. There is baggage that does not show up for many many years. If I knew then what I know now.... I'm not 100% positive I would do it again. It has been heartbreaking on so many levels.... even to the detriment of my original family. But then, I cannot help but think, 'What would have happened to my girls if we had not adopted them?' I can't answer that and I don't have do-overs. But I can be the warning flag that helps people through the times they will go through.

6. Do you agree with opening up unconditional, uncensored access to birth records? Why or why not?
Yes, I think anyone and everyone has the right to know their 'roots' - I have been with friends who searched and searched and finally found their birthparents and developed a healthy and loving relationship with them. I have been with friends who have found the child that they relinquished for adoption so many years ago and have found a completion to the circle that they have desired for so long. It is very healthy for people to see outcomes of adoption decisions. Not all are pleasant, but at least you know the truth! Everyone needs that last piece of the puzzle.... everyone.

Have you been united with any of the members of your Triad? If yes, what was the experience like?
Yes, I have a curious mind and could not bear to NOT know my children's birthparents.
#1 - It was a semi-open adoption in 1985 and both parties chose to quit our contact after a year of letters and pictures, we agreed on that in our original contract. I knew everything about her, because I had 'inside information' but she did not know identifying information about us. Since this was our first, we were nervous and did not know what to expect, that is the way we chose.
I found myself looking for her all of the time. When I was in the town she had grown up in, I would look her name up in the phone book and thought of calling, but never really felt like it was the right time. When the internet got really good, I joined 'classmates' and looked for her there. Shortly after she joined that website, I found her! I contacted her personally through email and asked her if she was interested in knowing about her birthdaughter. Of course she said yes, and it was so wonderful to be able to provide her with assurance that her child was safe, happy and healthy.
Last year, I took a trip to where she lives and met her, her mother and her grandmother for the first time. My daughter, at 22, did not feel like she was ready yet, but did write her a beautiful card thanking her for the choice she made. We will probably make a trip to see her together in the next year or so.

#2 - She handed her son to me in the hospital and it was a beautiful and tearful time. So, I kept in contact with her over the years (he is now 22) - She and I get together for dinner or lunch occasionally when she is in town and my husband and I attended her second wedding last year and really enjoyed getting to know her three children. She is a beautiful person and I hope someday my son will want to meet her. He is still not 'there' yet, and at times, boys aren't as curious as girls anyway.

#3 & 4 - Adopted sibling sisters from the county foster system, my girls were not lovingly given up. They were taken over and over again from drug abuse and neglect. My "uniting" with these birthparents was a bit more acerbic. The parents were reputed as being manipulative and emotional. Which, indeed they were. About a year after we finalized the adoption, we found out the the father was in the hospital with heart problems. So we figured he was a captive audience. We knew the mother would be there, because they were still married! We paid him a visit in the hospital just so we could connect with the people who had essentially traded their children for drugs (they lost four!) They were both tearful, yet glad to meet us and know that their girls had a family. They asked to see them and we told them that THEY (the parents) had made the choice and that they could see them when and if the girls wanted to AFTER they grew up. We did not feel it would be healthy AT ALL. It was a good choice.
The older one reunited with her birthmother (at 18) for a short time (the father passed away from drug abuse) and the mother tried to get her to get money for her.... it was weird. So, she no longer has contact with her.

Have you ever been made to feel shameful or to blame? What made you feel this way?
The shame and blame for an adoptive parent comes when your older adopted children are lying about you, the mother, and getting people to feel sorry for them.

Thank you to Cindie for sharing her story! Cindie will be in contact with me to discuss other issues so you'll hear from her again in the future.