Sonja and her husband Paul are the proud parents of four kids: Mia, Micah, Max and Macy. Sonja is a hands-on multi-tasking stay at home mom who home schools her eldest two. Thanks for finding the time to share the story of your rainbow nation family with us, Sonja!
My husband and I stay in Johannesburg and we have four adopted children. Two beautifully free little girls aged nine years and 11 months. And two wonderfully wild boys who are seven and two years old. Building a family through adoption has been a truly incredible journey that turned out being much less scary than people think. In most aspects we are just a normal family and yet I will never forget how the gift of adoption has brought these four remarkable kids into my life!
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
NO! Once we knew we could not become parents biologically, we immediately decided to adopt. We never considered any fertility treatment but I did take some time ‘off’ to grieve the loss of never having kids in the traditional way. After which we moved full steam ahead to adopt.
Did you use an agency or did you adopt through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
With our first two adoptions we used a well known Johannesburg agency but working through them proved to be laborious, slow, impersonal and often frustrating. When wanting to adopt again, a close friend referred us to a wonderful social worker in private practice and we worked with her on our third and later on our fourth adoption. This time round the experience was a totally joyful one, we never felt like we where fighting the system, we were always kept in the loop, we felt totally supported and valued and the waiting periods were much, much shorter. Once babies became available our Social Worker worked tirelessly to get all the admin done so our baby could come home. I recommend all potential adoptive parents to ‘shop around’ and make sure you find an agency or social worker who hears you and handles your application with the necessary respect and professionalism.
What was the hardest part of the process?
Waiting, always the waiting! Waiting for our first child was obviously the most difficult, we used the time to read up on adoption, prepare a nursery and spend a lot of time together as a couple. Waiting for number 2, 3 and 4 was a little more bearable as by then we were already very busy parenting a very active little nunu or two!
Tell us about your first night together as a family.
Wonderful! When our first baby came home my overwhelming feeling was that of feeling wholeness! And with every child since, it is like a piece of the puzzle is added. It just fits!
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
As is with all first time parents, we went all out to do things right. So, from the minute our first baby came home we emphasised the fact that she was adopted and how happy we are to have her. We spoke about adoption and read tons of adoption related stories to her. One day when she was about three and a half, we were on our way home after a visit to our GP and she piped up from the back of the car, ‘Oh, now I get it, Mommy! I am a-doctor! I am a-doctor!’
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
No! I was totally planning to celebrate these special days and I still think it is a great way to affirm and celebrate your adopted children. But when our eldest started referring to herself as ‘the adopted one’, we decided not to because it seemed like her identity was totally caught up in the fact that she was adopted. And even though we want her to be, or grow to be, at peace with this fact, we want her identity to lie in the fact that she is our beloved daughter not our adopted daughter! So i just keep these dates in my heart and say a special thank you to God on those days.
Advice for the screening process?
The adoption process is tough emotionally, so be kind to yourself! Remember that you are one of a very small group of people in this country who have made the choice to open their hearts and arms to a child in need of a loving home. You are good enough! Just relax and be yourself.
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Be excited! Ask questions! Please keep your reservations and fears to yourself. And otherwise do exactly what you would do, to support someone who is about to have a biological child!
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?
Stand tall! Be Proud! Be proud of your rainbow family! Personally I love the fact that no one in our family is related by blood. Blood does not make a family, love does! Being a transracial family can be challenging as we do often face prejudice, cultural misconceptions and straight out racism. I tell my kids that we chose each other. Biological families can be unplanned, but adoption is deliberate, on purpose! It is very special! So we are deliberately proud of who we are as a family. When someone asks if my kids are adopted, I deliberately say no! WE all adopted each other. WE ARE AN ADOPTED FAMILY! And proud of it!