Published October 2015
By Shelbie Bostedt, Intern
When Megan and Timothy Boarini returned home to Chicago in August 2011, they were accompanied by a little boy and girl, entering their new home for the first time. All of their lives were forever changed.
The couple had come to The Cradle two years earlier in hopes of completing a home study for their international adoption. Though they worked with a different placement agency, The Cradle supported them as they waited for the phone call that would make them parents.
After waiting for 15 months, to the Boarinis, any call could have been the call.
“We knew we were at the top of the list,” Meg says. “So any time we got a call with the area code of our agency, we’d freak out.”
That Valentine’s Day, instead of teddy bears and chocolates, Meg and Tim received a far greater gift: The news that they had been matched with two siblings, a 4-year-old boy, Mekbib, and a 13-month-old girl, Mekdes, in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
Upon receiving and reviewing referral information about the siblings, the Boarinis quickly accepted the match. They began planning their first of two trips to Ethiopia to legally become the parents of Mekbib and Mekdes.
A miscommunication over when they would get to meet their children, however, resulted in Tim and Meg spending their first day in Addis Ababa playing with other children who had been matched as they awaited the arrival of their son and daughter.
“It was a hard, long day,” Meg recalls. “All of the other families were with the kids they had been matched with, and we were just sort of hanging out.”
But when the van bringing their children arrived, all of that was forgotten.
“We recognized them right away,” Meg says.
Despite the Boarinis’ excitement, they knew the coming days would be hard for Mekbib and Mekdes, who would soon face a difficult transition to a completely new life and new world.
“We were so thrilled and happy, but it was just a very scary time for them,” Meg says of their first days together, when their son wouldn’t “speak above a whisper,” and their daughter clung to her nannies in the face of the unfamiliar.
After another visit to Ethiopia, a court appearance, embassy appointment and one hectic plane ride, the Boarinis were finally able to return to the states for the first time as a family of four.
The transition period was a challenge. “You have to be really open to the fact that maybe your child is not going to feel the same way you do, and maybe not for a while,” Meg says of her kids’ adjustment. “It’s amazing how far they have come.”
Today, four years after leaving their country of birth, the children are happy and settled. “They are fabulous. They are just awesome and terrific and resilient,” Meg says of Mekbib and Mekdes.
The Boarinis talk to their kids about adoption and answer their questions.
“My son has asked why he had to be adopted,” Meg says. “He remembers his family in Ethiopia and we send them updates and receive them in return. So far, he accepts the circumstances of why he was placed for adoption and he’s coping with that quite well.”
Meg recognizes that adoption, whether international or domestic, involves a traumatic loss for the child.
“I think adoption is wonderful in that it builds a family and provides a stable and loving home for kids who really need it,” she explains. “But it’s still a huge loss and that’s something adoptive parents need to understand.”