Tuesday, August 13, 2013

CONNECTING: with my spouse {Charlie and Me}

I sat on the couch, coffee in hand, pen and paper in lap, and contemplated the many ways my husband and I connected with each other during our adoption adventures.  And then I realized these connections were not the result of some miraculous epiphany; these bonds formed many years before we adopted our oldest boy, and continue to develop and evolve throughout our life together.

I can’t recall the exact moment or life event that opened my mind to the possibility of adoption as a way to build my future family, but by the time I entered my sophomore year in high school I knew my role as a parent in the far-off future would somehow involve adoption.  In fact, I was so convicted to this abstract decision that four years later, during the early dating phase of our relationship, I asked my then-boyfriend, Charlie, his thoughts on adoption.

“I would absolutely adopt a child,” he told me.  And that was when I knew I would eventually marry the boy.

Many years passed, and, as is often the case in marriages, life threw us some curve balls.  After one particularly painful and emotionally draining fork in our parenting road, I looked at Charlie and said, “I think it’s time for us to adopt.”

“Make some phone calls,” he replied.

We met with a local adoption attorney and I spoke with the director of a local crisis pregnancy center.  Both offered the same suggestion, “Contact the Gladney Center in Ft. Worth.  They’re the best.”

The next decision then presented itself: international or domestic adoption?  Charlie and I discussed our options and chose international adoption.  But, what country?  The answer revealed itself through Charlie’s disclosure to me that his mother’s family immigrated to America from Kiev in the early 1900’s.  Suddenly the choice was clear and we began the process of adopting through Gladney’s Russian adoption program.
The more Charlie and I talked and dreamt about our adoption possibilities, the easier our decisions became.  And when Gladney finally sent information about a baby ready to meet his new family, we immediately agreed to accept the referral.

Pregnancy and adoption both naturally draw a couple together as they prepare their home to become a haven for a family, not just two people sharing living quarters.  But, unlike pregnancy (where the woman’s body nurtures and protects the growing fetus while the man benignly watches from the sidelines), adoption allows both parents to work as equal partners in bringing the new child into the family.  Charlie and I worked in tandem to complete paperwork, make decisions, and prepare our home to welcome the newest member of our family. This combined effort culminated in our standing side by side before a judge in a courtroom halfway around the world, equally sharing in the euphoria that accompanies the “birth” of a child.

I am thankful to have a partner with whom I not only share all the ups and downs and responsibilities and exuberance that go along with parenting but who also harbors the same convictions and similar emotional ties to our children.  To me there is no connection more powerful or fulfilling.  This continuous bond brings me great joy in my journey as a wife, a mother, and a person, and I am forever grateful I found it with such an amazing and compassionate partner.


Dawn Sticklen lives in Joplin, MO with her husband and four children, two of whom are adopted from Russia.  She writes the blog, 'Since You Asked...', where she hopes to make the world a better place, one blog post at a time.


  1. A beautifully written story about a beautiful couple. Thank you for sharing with us!!

    1. Thank you so much for having me here today!