Part XVI, Geeta’s story
My husband, Hector, has a small business selling firewood to people in our neighborhood in Philadelphia. It is more of a hobby than a business, although his proceeds usually do provide our Christmas and winter heating money (although so far this year, business has been slim, indeed, so Christmas is going to be even slimmer than usual - but, I digress . . . ). His business partners are our sons Isaac and Raj (who was adopted from India - I say this only because it becomes important in this story).
So, in 1996, Hector was delivering a truck load of wood to one of his “regular” customers, (a family who - unbeknownst to us at that time - has a daughter who is adopted from India). Hector happened to have Raj with him on this particular delivery. The customer struck up a conversation with Hector and Raj, asking if Raj was adopted and telling about their own experiences adopting from India. Then they suddenly remembered seeing an article about our family and said, “Oh are you THAT family - the one with ALL THOSE kids?”
After hearing that we were, indeed, THAT family, they quickly pulled Hector aside and began to tell him about another young girl from India that was currently in foster care here in the states and that needed an adoptive family desperately. Could we help?
Well, for the thousandth or millionth or bazillionth time we had clearly and firmly told ourselves, our families and the entire world that we were not adopting any more kids. So, of course, Hector immediately said, “Tell me more about her.”
Well, a series of phone calls ensued, and while we felt certain that we were not in a position to adopt her, we hoped that our network of connections within the adoption community might be brought to bear for the task of finding her a family.
Geeta had been brought to this country as a 5 year old after several years as a “street” child in India. She had some speech-language and other developmental challenges. Then, her first adoptive placement disrupted (there’s that word again) and she went into foster care. For the next 8 years, she moved between several foster homes, 2 more pre-adoptive homes and one institutional placement. There is, of course, a lot more horror and trauma involved in her history that I cannot comfortably disclose here.
So, we ended up going to the agency that had responsibility for Geeta and met with them. We brainstormed ideas as to how they could locate an appropriate family for her. We helped get her listed in various places and “plugged her in” to our network of resources. Then, we went on with our lives.
A year and a half later, in the summer of 1998, Hector and I were at an adoption conference in our state. We ran into Geeta’s social worker and Hector innocently asked, “So, whatever happened to Geeta, did she get adopted?”
And the social worker not-so-innocently answered, “No, she still needs a family, in fact she has moved twice more since we last talked to you and the foster home she is in now is temporary and needs her to move out before school starts. Are you interested?”
To which Hector replied, “Tell me more.”
It was about 2 weeks after that chance conference coffee-break encounter that Geeta moved in and became our 22nd child.
She did, indeed, bring many challenges with her, and yet at the same time, she was very sweet, loving and fun. And SO thrilled to have a family at last. And we KNOW she was meant to be our daughter, because years before, I KNEW in my heart that one day we would have a second child from India.
Geeta graduated from high school and completed a vocational program. She lives in Philadelphia and, at 27, is the mom of 3 beautiful little daughters, Titianna, Tianna and Nicole.
So, there you have it – by 1998 we had been married 19 years and had 22 children that are ours forever.
The End (unless you want to hear about the foster care stories, the group home stories, the “unofficial” kids, the Refugee kids, the grandchildren and now, even the great grandchildren!)
(PS –Since I originally wrote this, we did indeed celebrate many more anniversaries (our 31st anniversary in the summer of 2010) without adopting anymore children – so we reached and passed Hector’s goal of being married for more years than the number of children we have!)