The date was 2-15-2010 and a message pops up on my Facebook account. “Hello, you don’t know me but do you mind if I ask you how you know Mina K.? I responded.. “she was my interpreter when I adopted my son in Bulgaria.”
Her reply…. “ours too.”
Little did I know at that moment.. that I would form a bond with another North Texan who also had been on a journey to Bulgaria to get her adopted children.
This is the first of their two stories…… Meet Alex….
Mary Crouse knew one thing…. that she wanted to be a mom. Like so many others, she and her husband Mike- had been through years of infertility problems and miscarriages. It took its toll on Mary… at her wit’s end, she announced that “she was done trying”- the emotional and physical toll of this process can be excruciating painful and Mary was no exception. But Mary knew…. “I want to be a mom.”
In Mary’s mind- adoption was the next journey (she had experience with adoption in her family and so this was not a foreign concept to her.) BUT back in these days- (mid 1990’s) the only children that were adopted out of the foster care system were to those who were foster care parents first. So? Mike and Mary went through the process of becoming foster parents. They were immediately given two young boys, Ryan and Kyran who were biological brothers.
Mike and Mary were raising these boys for six months when their biological mother came back into the picture and was able to get them back. Mary was devastated – these young boys who were part of her family were leaving. The bio mother offered to allow M&M to see them every other weekend and of course, that is what they did. But it wasn’t the same as having them in her house. This entire process sent Mary into a dark hole as she recalls. The infertility, the miscarriages, the foster care system, losing the boys etc, etc… “I just want to be a mom.”
The foster care parenting was too hard for Mary (having to give them up) but she was told all domestic adoptions were offered to foster care parents first. That was no longer an option for her…. Mary started researching international adoptions. A quick internet search developed 40 different agencies in the U.S. She began her due diligence.. the fees were wide ranging, the experience of the agencies were wide ranging, each agency had different countries for which they operated. There was one that stood out to her.. Americans for International Aid & Adoption (AIAA) in Michigan. (Same one I used). Her research showed her that Bulgaria had some of the best outcomes and AIAA was one of three agencies in the US allowed to adopt from Bulgaria.
Mary and Mike completed the questionnaire and Mary desired a special needs child. A harder journey but Mary is a RN and with her nursing background, it didn’t bother her at all. The year was 1999.
The social worker at AIAA advised Mary that it would take a little while to find a special needs child. That conversation happened on a Friday. By Monday, Mary was sent a picture and a profile of a young boy in Burgas, Bulgaria. The internet speed wasn’t what it is today… so line by line the picture downloaded to her computer. Once downloaded, Mary gasped.. “there’s my child.” His name would be Alex.
As part of this process.. Mike and Mary were sent a VHS tape and a bio on Alex. They fell in love, this was their son and they had not even physically met him yet.
Alex was considered special needs because he had a cleft lip and palate which would require several surgeries to fix. It didn’t matter to them, this was their son.
UP NEXT… Alex’s journey to America.