Celebrating National Adoption Month
Bringing families and children together
PROUD MOM Mickey Jarnagin, left, helps Jianai Johnson of Brandon across the monkey bars as her daughter, Jacey, 6, looks on. The Jarnagins are from Terry and drove two hours to be a part of the recent meeting of the Mississippi chapter of Families with Children from China. The group gathered in Meridian's Highland Park for a day of family fun.
By Penny Randall / staff writer
Nov. 24, 2002
Linda Abel of Meridian and her 6-year-old adopted daughter, Lisa, stood in a circle with 15 other families, their heads bowed in prayer as they blessed the meal they were about to eat.
The families, some from all areas of the state, recently spent a sunny Saturday afternoon at Highland Park at a gathering for the Mississippi chapter of Families with Children from China.
The state chapter meets regularly so children and parents can share their experiences. Members also help people who want to adopt children but have found little success in the United States.
Susan McVeigh of Hattiesburg, who attended the Nov. 16 event, said the group has been good for families with adopted children.
McVeigh attended the gathering two weeks after she traveled to China to adopt her 20-month-old daughter, Hannah. McVeigh and her husband have two sons, 13 and 15, and always wanted a daughter.
Cheryl and James Walters have been married 15 years. Although Cheryl has two biological children from her first marriage, she and James have no children together.
But that may not last much longer. The couple is in the process of adopting a daughter from China.
Cheryl said they decided to adopt a child from China after much deliberation.
Cheryl smiled from ear-to-ear as she talked to parents who watched their children run around the playground.
Cheryl and James' trip to China will be a lifetime experience in more ways than one. Not only will they meet and take home their new daughter, they also will fly for the first time.
Linda Abel knows all about the 13-hour plane trip across the Pacific: She took the trip to adopt Lisa and plans to take it again in about six months when she will adopt her second daughter.
Abel was one of two single mothers at the Nov. 16 event. And while her age of 46 may turn off some domestic adoption agencies, she said it has not affected her ability to adopt Chinese children.
The trip and adoption process, however, comes with a lot of worry and tedious paperwork.
All of the parents at the recent gathering had adopted daughters because the Chinese orphanages are filled with little girls.
When lunch was served, Bruce Stephens of Brandon was probably the busiest parent.
He fixed plates for his three adopted daughters, Riley, who will turn 3 on Thanksgiving, Risa, 4, and Rachel, 5. His wife, Robin, a nurse who worked the night shift the night before, was home sleeping.
Like all the other parents at the gathering, Stephens and his wife, Robin, spent two weeks in China when they went pick up their daughters.
Stephens said interested parents should realize that adoption costs can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. A typical foreign adoption costs anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000 or more a child.
Philip Wottrich of Meridian, the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, and his wife, Sharon, adopted a daughter, Liana, who is now 3.
The Wottrichs, who are in the process of adopting a second child, traveled to Nanning, China, to pick up Liana.
Like many of the parents, the Wottrichs received little medical history on their daughter.
Philip Wottrich wants people thinking about adoption to realize one thing: Adoption is a gift.