Debbie Croft: Three adoption success stories

November is National Adoption Month.

Is there a greater demonstration of love than presenting a child with the gift of home and family?

Between 1.5 million and 2 million children in the United States are adopted. Over half of America’s population has either adopted a child, relinquished a child for adoption or knows someone who was adopted, according to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

The following are three heartwarming stories of foothills residents whose lives have been personally affected by adoption:

• Ken and Nancy Edwards (not their real names) of Midpines adopted their grandson, Nathan. When their daughter gave birth in 1988 and showed little interest in her son, the Edwardses couldn’t help but get involved.

For the first few years, Nathan lived with his grandparents. His mom would come for dinner and visit the family most evenings. During this period the Edwardses moved across the country temporarily to be near their daughter, who had also moved, and to continue caring for their grandson.

By the time Nathan was 5 years old, his mom still hadn’t become established in a career or found a home. Ken and Nancy decided to take him off her hands for good. There was no contesting from his birth mom.

“I fought it for a long time,” Nancy said. “We were retired, and I had no desire to start over raising kids.”

But, she added, “It was the best decision we ever made. I just know God put him in our lives.”

Today Nathan is a bright, athletic 15-year-old home-schooled student. He enjoys playing basketball and Xbox with friends, participates in youth soccer, is involved in church youth activities, goes to summer camps and at times works on the family truck with his dad.

• People are shocked when Tonia English tells them she was adopted. Born in Alaska in 1964, Tonia looks and acts very much like her adoptive parents, Al and Ginny Trujillo.

Her dad served in the Air Force and was stationed in Alaska when he and his wife decided to adopt. They had been married – and childless – for nine years.

When the Trujillos brought Tonia home she was only a few months old. In the next two years they relocated to Indiana and adopted another baby girl, Gina. In a couple more years a boy, Alan, joined the family.

As a girl, Tonia remembers when her mom told her and her siblings they were adopted.

“But other than family members, no one else knew. We’ve always been close and still are,” Tonia said. “It seemed like a normal life.”

Eventually the family settled in California.

Of the three siblings, Gina is the only one who later found and met her birth mom.

Tonia now resides and works in Mariposa. She’s active in church and community service. Her husband, Ron English, teaches science at Cruikshank Middle School in Merced.

They have three grown daughters; the youngest studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Their adorably precocious granddaughter, Olivia, lovingly calls her grandma Granny-face.

• As a college student in 1988, Kim Bowdish battled Hodgkin’s disease. Radiation treatments targeted the area between her neck and lower abdomen. She would most likely never have children of her own.

Three years after she and James Clacher were married, she still hadn’t conceived. There was no money for expensive infertility tests. And she wasn’t sure her body was strong enough to carry and birth a child. After a long struggle, the couple looked into adoption.

For them, the adoption process began with foster parenting in Madera County.

“There’s so much red tape,” Kim said, “and it’s heart-wrenching, because we got attached to the kids very easily.”

The Clachers first cared for two sisters, ages 1 and 3. James had no experience with children, and Kim had only a little. The responsibility grew so overwhelming, they almost quit. They decided to start with one child at a time.

Putting their names on the emergency list meant they were the first foster home to receive infants. In most cases, the newborns experienced drug withdrawals (from moms who used) and screamed constantly. This brought the couple close to quitting again.

Then they met Grace.

Within the first few months the Clachers and baby Grace were completely attached.

“The thought of losing Grace was too much to bear,” Kim said. Just after her second birthday, the Clachers signed adoption papers.

More infants came to their home, and soon after they met Josiah. Due to birth complications, he spent the first 10 days of his life at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. But the Clachers persevered, and eventually adopted him as well.

Grace and Josiah are now 13 and 11 years old, respectively.

If the children decide to find their birth mom when they’re older, the Clachers want to help them through the process.

Kim sums up her experience this way:

“It’s so wonderful to actually see the changes that love and nurturing bring to a neglected child where the cycle of destruction can stop. I’m so glad our two were rescued.”