adoption story(Left) Emily and Wes Hodgins with their daughter, Alexas. (Above) Johnny and Courtney Grimes, pictured with their son, River, are awaiting the final steps of adoption of their daughter from Ethiopia.
Since 2000, National Adoption Day, observed the Saturday before Thanksgiving, has been dedicated as a time of awareness, advocacy and celebration for adoptive families. While the stories of many local adoptive families vary, most bear the unifying thread of being called to adopt.
Before Wes and Emily Hodgins married, the couple visited different churches in the area, and Emily said each new visit was strangely similar to the one before – the topic of each sermon was adoption. One afternoon over lunch, the pattern came up in conversation, and Wes said he had always wanted to adopt.
“I’d had the same feeling,” Emily said. “Growing up, when I had a friend adopting, I was interested to the point that my parents had to remind me to give that family personal space! I was fascinated.”
So, with perseverance, patience and a healthy sense of humor, the family began its adoption journey.
In the summer of 2010, the Hodgins had immersed themselves in international adoption research when a Tennessee woman made national news by sending a 7-year-old boy she adopted back to Russia on a one–way flight. Almost immediately, all three countries the couple was researching froze adoptions. But through a serendipitous turn, they found an Atlanta–based birth mother, with whom they formed a supportive bond.
“You hear things about birth mothers, and you get these ideas in your head,” said Emily. “She was none of that. She actually had a very similar personality to me.”
The couple never missed a doctor’s appointment.
“Driving to Atlanta was nothing to us,” Emilysaid. “If we were invited, we were going.”
And they did, bringing Thin Mints to assuage the birth mother’s chocolate cravings, and listening to the baby’s heartbeat on ultrasound.
That child, 18-month-old Alexa, is now a happy member of the Hodgins family.
High school sweethearts Courtney and Johnny Grimes had also included adoption in their family plans, but they didn’t know how or when they would act on them. The call came following unsuccessful attempts to conceive a second child.
“Naively, we thought we’d have two of our own and then adopt, but God threw a wrench in our timeline,” Johnny Grimes said.
But 15 months into the adoption process, Courtney became pregnant – news they’d barely absorbed when she miscarried. Not 24 hours later, they received a referral for a six-month-old Ethiopian infant girl they would name Penelope.
“We’ve always had a deep desire in our hearts to have our family look like Heaven,” said Johnny. “From every nation, tribe and tongue – black, white, red and yellow. We cannot wait to have Penelope home.”
The Grimes now wait only for a court date before they can fly over and adopt their daughter, who turns 1 on Nov. 21, the same day her big brother turns 5.
This year the National Adoption Day Coalition expects 4,500 children in foster care to be adopted on National Adoption Day, on Nov. 17. For more information, visit nationaladoptionday.org.