May 15th is Laila Day. That's the day we celebrate every year......it's the day we brought Laila home on the airplane. I wanted to share the history behind this day. I decided to share what's in my journal and Laila's baby book about this time in our family.
Laila Shanae Welch’s Story—Written Summer of 2002
Melinda’s story : It all started around Christmas time of 2001. Aunt Lynette and Uncle Lynn Poulter were in China teaching English and they wrote home to us about all of the abandoned baby girls that “no one wanted.” The orphanages were full of discarded daughters. Our hearts were touched. For the past 3 years the boys have been begging us to adopt a little girl. We kept saying our family is done—4 is plenty—but there was always someone missing.
At Christmas it seemed everywhere we turned there was an adoption story. Someone’s cousin, friend or sister was adopting from China. We started thinking, “What if we got a little girl for our 4oth birthdays?” It seemed far out, but it definitely made Wayne and me smile. We fasted and prayed about it all and as a family. By the first week of January, we knew we had to adopt a black haired- dark eyed baby girl. I couldn’t stop crying.
People thought we were crazy. It was easy having our 4 boys—we could get up and do whatever we wanted. They pretty much took care of themselves…the youngest being 9. It felt like the Lord was comforting me and helping me sort out all of this emotion. We needed a little Laila in our family. I thought Wayne needed a little girl. I still got all of the smooches and loves and closeness from the boys, but as they got older their dad was being left out. Our family needed the softening of a girl spirit.
We started the process for a China girl. I am sure there are faster ways to adopt—but we didn’t want to take an opportunity away from a couple who can’t have children—so the idea of getting a girl that “nobody wanted” felt right. The boys and Wayne all thought an infant would be best—but I was pretty set on a 2 or 3 year old. I knew this would be harder—the language, for one thing, would be hard—plus she would have attachment issues and nutrition problems most likely, but I was pretty adamant about NOT getting a baby . I am old—40 this year and the idea of starting over was scary. I convinced the family to do it my way.
We filled out a ton of paper work. We talked to a lot of people and even went to the Chinese New Year event sponsored by Families for Children from China. We paid out a little money here and a lot of money there. We got our home study done, our FBI background checks and we also paid $1000.00 to the department of Naturalization and Immigration services. We were told it would take from 1 to 2 years before we got our little girl.
The waiting already was horrible. At times I felt like—“why was I putting the family through all of this?” All I could think about was our little Laila. Was she born yet? What was she doing? How was she doing? I had dreams about a dark haired little girl—but not from China. Money was getting tight—but I knew we were doing the right thing. I kept making deals with the Lord. “Ok—if Wayne stands and bears his testimony this week, then we are really supposed to adopt.” He would bear his testimony. “If Sarah Rigby ( who is adopted) sits by me in Relief Society, then we are supposed to adopt.” Sara would sit by me. It was crazy. I knew I was pushing harder for this than Wayne or the boys, but I really felt strongly about Laila being a part of our family by this time. “IF we are asked to be the witness couple at the temple, we are supposed to adopt.” We were asked.
May was here and more paperwork showed up, I wanted to cry –again. Wayne kept telling me it would all work out. We paid more money for fingerprints again. We kept praying that the adoption would happen quicker.
The next day, while I was teaching at the high school, Wayne called and said that cousin Paisley Poulter Callister had called him about a little Hispanic girl that “nobody wanted”—out of an agency in Philadelphia. They had no family ready to take her, and had been calling adoption agencies all across the country trying to find a family that was ready for her, with their background checks and homestudies all in place. There was no one. They contacted an agency in Spanish Fork that Paisley had adopted from last year. They called her. She called us. We had to decide in the next 24 hours. She was wondering if our hearts were open to a 3 1/2 month old Spanish baby—or if we were set on the China route?
Were our hearts ever open!!!
But this was a baby—not a toddler. Well the boys were thrilled. Just what they had in mind all along. Wayne said, “We can get the 2 years old in 2 years, or have this little baby who needs us, right now.”
Now it was all happening too fast. Nothing was ready—we were going to have 1 to 2 years to get all of the bedrooms and money figured out. Now we had to pray and decide immediately. It was turmoil.
....to be continued.......