An estimated that 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. As part of National Adoption month, Parentology is speaking to people around the country about their adoption experiences. For couples looking to create a family, Jacquie Amacher’s story offers hope and proves you never know what life has in store for you.
For Amacher, deciding to adopt wasn’t easy. She and her husband started trying to get pregnant when she was 31. Eventually, they met with an infertility specialist and started with intrauterine insemination (IUI). When that didn’t work, they turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF), but had no luck with that either.
Through the process Amacher says she was practically living online, obsessively talking with people about IVF to learn all she could. She describes the process as “awful.” During that time, a specialist told Amacher due to an issue with her uterus, she’d likely have problems if she ever did become pregnant and could miscarry. The doctor suggested adopting instead.
“I remember my mother saying to me, what is it that you want, do you want to be a mother or do you want to be pregnant?” Amacher remembers.
She quickly knew the answer, so Amacher and her husband began looking into adoption.
The Road to Adoption
Deciding to adopt was just the first leg of the journey. Amacher and husband had to choose where they wanted to adopt the child from and what agency they wanted to work with. The decision led them to Russia. They first met with an adoption agency director on Christmas Eve of 2001 to begin the process.
Statistically, the wait to adopt a healthy infant is anywhere between 2 and 7 years with international adoptions taking several years as well.
“We were fortunate in that we said it didn’t matter if we had a boy or girl and Russian adoptions were still relatively newly-open to US citizens,” Amacher says.
Amacher and her husband were indeed fortunate. In May of 2002, they flew back to Russia to meet an 8 ½-month-old baby girl at an orphanage to possibly adopt. Before the adoption could move forward the Amachers had to wait another two weeks or so to see if anyone from the little girl’s immediate family was going to object. If they did, Amacher said it would set the clock back another six months.
“That period was utter hell,” Amacher says. “I was so afraid to buy anything for fear of disappointment.”
Luckily, Amacher and her husband weren’t disappointed. Less than a month later, they had their daughter, Anna, in their arms and were on their way home.
Adjusting to Life as a Mom… and a Twist
While Amacher knew she wanted to be a mom, there was certainly an adjustment period.
When she gave Anna her first bath, the toddler was clearly distressed to be in the water and Amacher had no idea how to soothe her. “When you think of any mother of an 8 ½-month-old baby, that parent has a relationship with that child — they know their cries and emotions.”
Although working with a learning curve was hard, the Amachers strove to bond with their daughter on all levels. “As soon as we gave her love, attention, sunshine, and physical touch, she just blossomed,” Amacher says.
During this time when they got home, something else also blossomed.
“In between meeting Anna and getting back to adopt her, we met with a potential surrogate and decided we wanted to move forward as we knew we wanted more than one child to love,” Amacher says.
By September, they were pregnant via surrogacy… with twins. In June of 2003, the couple welcomed Anna’s little brother and sister. Within 12 months, they’d completed their family of five.
Fast forward to 2019 and Anna is now 18 years old.
“She’s the most interesting, curious, outside of the box thinker,” Amacher says. “She’s an amazing human being. She’s made our lives, and the lives of our extended families, that much richer and joyful.”
For anyone considering adoption, Amacher offers this advice, “Don’t be passive, be proactive and take advantage of all you can.”
This includes doing your research, talking to people who’ve had success with the process and taking advantage of speaking to referrals if an agency offers them.
“Be smart, ask as many questions as you can about it, but also be open,” Amacher says. “It’s a beautiful thing. Just live it and embrace it.”