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Rick Maurer and his wife Ilene both had successful careers with Fortune 500 companies and loving extended families – but there was something missing from their lives: they desperately wanted children. After the trauma of multiple failures with fertility doctors, Rick and Ilene were forced to accept the knowledge that they would not be able to have children naturally and decided to look into adoption. Their desire to start their family without delay, to have a young baby, and the safeguards not available domestically – led them to consider an adoption from abroad. As a publisher traveling throughout South America Rick knew the sad situations of the many children left abandoned and without loving families. In this touching story Rick describes their first meeting with Sam and later Maria, whose families had been unable to care for them. Unlike many of the thousands of less fortunate babies in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, Sam and Maria each had been placed with a foster family before being approved for adoption and ultimately placed with a family. It was love at first sight for Rick and Ilene, but many obstacles remained including language, culture, as well as uncooperative judges. This saga tells in touching detail the highs and lows of Rick and Ilene’s journey to parenthood while also weaving in the fascinating early history of this remote and little known country.
One of our experiences after we returned from Paraguay with our family revolved around our physical makeup. Our decision to adopt from Latin America excited us and still does, so much so that we never focused much on the lack of similarity — yes, we knew it was there, but that was about as far as it went. When we saw our son for the first time, we were in awe of his beauty (as any first time parent). When we got him home, every outing was our opportunity to show him off. A year later, when we brought our beautiful Latin American version of Shirley Temple home, it was the same feeling but in stereo. But it was the comments and questions from perfect strangers that intrigued us so. When they saw us together as a family, their first observation was the differences. We are light complexioned and blue eyed whereas Sam’s and Maria’s beauties are completely their own – we can take no dark and exotic part in that. However, people’s questions probe for likeness and relationship: Where did she get that curly hair? Or, whose eyes does he have? We have gotten a little creative in giving our answers – ones that don’t require any justification of similarity. When feeling more serious, we may say, she got it from God, or when feeling a little playful, we may say, he has his own eyes. To these answers, we may get the brave and creative soul who will abandon their search for similarity and ask, oh, are they adopted? To which we say, matter of factly – yes – no games… no need to question the difference, just a refreshing statement of fact. We are grateful for the differences in our family, not just for their beauty and love, but for the daily lessons we get and maybe can give.