Celina Baldwin and Amanda Purvis didn’t realize getting their nails done that afternoon at Perry Nails would change their lives for the better. Looking back, it was fate that brought these two women together upon remembering that day.
Sitting at neighboring booths, it seemed natural to strike up a conversation. Baldwin recalls, “She was next to me at the nail salon and as we were talking, she told me she had adopted kids. Then I said that we were adopting too – that’s how we connected.” Coincidentally, they also came to find out that they lived in the same neighborhood, their houses a stone’s throw from one another.
As the conversation progressed, they realized they shared the same sense of humor, faith, and a passion to see children in loving families.
For the Baldwins, they began to think about the possibility of adopting after trying for several years to have a child on their own. Their decision to look at adopting children from outside the country was heavily influenced by Andy’s sister. At the time, she was volunteering in the Congo and told them about the number of orphans she saw there. “His sister was working in the Congo and alerted us to the orphan crisis. After that, Congo and international adoption went hand in hand for us,” she said.
After choosing to adopt from outside the U.S., the Baldwins expenses began to add up quickly. “The agency you go through can charge you whatever they want. There’s no regulation on what they can make you pay for the adoption,” In addition to paying an agency, once country fees and travel expenses are tacked on, a family can foot a total bill between $15,000 and $60,000.
Along with expected expenses, the length of time for bringing children home when adopting internationally can vary from family to family. “The process is very lengthy. It took us two years and it just depends on your agency and how hard you push,” Baldwin continued, “It can also depend on the country you are adopting from.”
There was a twist for the Baldwins though. “Two years into the adoption process, we were finally cleared to purchase our plane tickets and we found out we would be leaving in two weeks to pick up Vaughn, then five and Eloise, then three from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The next day, I found out I was pregnant!” Celina said, “We had three kids in nine months time.”
For the Purvis Family, their situation was somewhat different. Though they already had one son, she always knew she wanted to grow her family by adopting more children. A social worker by trade and experienced with foster care in Colorado, they were inclined to become foster parents from the get-go. “We did foster care for a total of three years with The Collaborative (Jefferson, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties). During that time, we fostered 11 kiddos, three of whom we ended up adopting.” she proudly stated.
Though by serving as a foster home, the Purvis family was never certain about which children they could adopt when they came to stay at their home. This is due to the fact that most of the kids who enter the foster care system only need temporary care while their families get back on their feet. Purvis knows this firsthand, “Research shows that no matter what the homelife is like, kids do better with their bio families then when they are adopted. As a foster parent, you have to support that and let them do what they need to do to get them home.”
Likewise, costs were much lower becoming foster care parents with the intent to adopt. “They (the state) pay you to be a foster parent. Of course, it doesn’t cover all the expenses of caring for the child. You will say goodbye to kids often, so it requires a different type of heart to do foster care,” said Purvis. After that, parents who decide to adopt can bring a child permanently into the home by paying a mere finger printing and filing fee.
Also, because their son Tre was only 4 when they began fostering children, it was a smooth transition to eventually adopt siblings. It was especially promising when Demetrius first showed up at their door. Purvis smiled, “From the moment he arrived, they were best friends. Thankfully, we did end up adopting him- we kind of knew when he came into our home we would because he had already been in the system for 3 years and his parents rights had already been terminated.”
Over the next three years, the Purvis family would add to their family, making a place for Layla and Noah, only to be be surprised by becoming pregnant again with Charli Kate. But when reminiscing on those crazy, fun-filled years of creating their families, they wouldn’t have imagined things happening any other way.
When they are not busy with their full-time jobs being mothers, Baldwin co-owns a business with her mom, Chris, called The Shabby Alpaca and Purvis is the co-founder of an organization that provides resources for parents of children from hard places. Emerge Family Connections addresses the unique needs of biological, adopted and foster children who have endured difficult and sometimes traumatic experiences which have impacted their development. Numerous families have gained successful, positive results using their methodology of Trust Based Relational Intervention®.
And by having blended, multiracial families, they are a testament to the successes of adoption. When a conversation begins, they use it as a way educate neighbors about growing your family. “They might not mean to, but sometimes people will ask things that can come off as offensive. Which ones are siblings? And the kids reply back: What do you mean? We are all siblings.” But they both realize it’s just a matter of changing the language that is used. Baldwin added, “I’m happy to use that moment as an opportunity to talk about adoption; I love to tell our story.”
If you are interested in talking with the families about foster care/adoption or want more information about The Shabby Alpaca or Emerge Family Connections, please contact:
Celina Baldwin: www.mkt.com/shabbyalpaca
Amanda Purvis: www.emergefamilyconnections.com