Adoption has always been a part of our family planning dreams, even from the time we began dating. However, as tends to happen, time passed quickly and before we knew it, we had two children that were already 11 and 9! We couldn’t imagine “starting over” with a younger child, but older child adoption seemed very scary… Had we “missed the window”?
One Monday evening a blog found its way into my inbox about Project 143, an orphan hosting program. Color me intrigued. By the time my husband Justin came home, I basically had a PowerPoint Presentation about why we should jump in with both feet! We had no idea what we were doing, but we were doing it as a family!
We both agreed that the best thing to do was look at the photo listing separately, pray about it, and then come back together to see if any of our children matched. If they didn’t match, we would consider hosting another season. We pulled up the photo listing and both pointed to the SAME kid! He had a big mischievous grin and seemed playful, goofy, and fun. When I called and they told me that he was officially “on hold” for the Phaneuf Phamily, I remember that I said out loud, “What are we getting ourselves into?”
We really had no idea the answer to that question would be a 4-month delay in hosting because of Covid combined with a shortened hosting period. How would we get to know him in only 27 days? What happened next was the beginning of the greatest adventure!
We welcomed Favian at the Atlanta airport and and had a whirlwind of wonderful 3 weeks! Putting him back on the plane was an incredibly hard day. Favian insisted that I had to stop crying. It was still high Covid precaution times and my mask was dripping tears by the time he waved goodbye one last time.
Adopting from Colombia
Our next step was to make a Spirit-led, prayerful decision about adopting Favian. Our daughter Tannis wasn’t so sure about changing our dynamic, but after talking about her concerns, five days later at the dinner table, Tannis, unprompted, casually said, “God told me I am going to like having two big brothers.” And that was that, Operation Phantastic Phour to Phabulous 5 was a GO!
Like all adoption journeys, it was a bumpy road! We had some of the “typical” hiccups like passports taking longer than usual and paperwork getting delayed in the mail. We also had some very unusual ones, like the doctor who did our Psych Evaluations disappearing for 6 weeks! It took 14 months and 10 days (but who’s counting?) from submitting our application to landing in Bogota, Colombia. We absolutely could not have done it without CCAI’s staff. We are blessed to live in Florida where CCAI has an office, so our social worker Ryan Fontaine was able to do our home study and be available to share inevitable tears and frustrations. The Colorado team was always professional and efficient and also kind and sympathetic. We never felt like we were “just another adopting family” with them. We just cannot say enough about how special the CCAI team really is; they’re in it for the kids and parents 100%.
Phinally a Phamily
The day we picked up Favian was full of excitement and nerves – would he remember us, would he still want to come with us? I was shaking so hard I was practically vibrating, but Justin couldn’t stop smiling. The door opened and in walked Favian, the same goofy kid who still insisted on wearing a ball cap backward! He was completely himself and we loved him for it! The next 3 weeks were a pleasant blur, thanks to CCAI’s incredible in-country rep Martha and her team of wonderful drivers, and on July 22 our adoption was finalized! Favian was a Phaneuf! It felt completely surreal that the mischievous-faced stranger from the photolisting was now our son, forever!
The Phaneuf family
Favian is now in school with Drake and Tannis. Our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders have an event, meeting, practice, or class every night of the week and weekends are all about Phamily Phun.
We spend a lot of time at theme parks, watching movies, and cooking together. We are so incredibly happy and the best part is, this is only the beginning! If you have ever considering hosting-to-adopt, our family would say, “Go for it!”
For information on hosting-to-adopt and adopting from Colombia, please visit our Colombia Program.