We started our lives together with a quirky little story of how our families criss-crossed the Atlantic so that we could meet in a small New England town. My ancestors left Ireland during the famine and made their way to Chicago. Several hundred years later, my husband’s parents left Chicago and set off for Irish shores and an unlikely professional basketball career. Eventually, we were united in a small mill-town liberal arts college in central Maine. An unlikely coupling, if nothing else.
But it took a leap of faith to bring us back across the ocean to the great city of Houston in the hopes of building our family. Last year, over a thousand families adopted children into their families here in Texas. Next year, we hope to join the ranks of those melting, blending families.
Adoption in Ireland is an even more arduous process than here. In a pendulum shift from the era of Magdalene Laundries, there are very few Irish babies given up for adoption and parental rights are rarely terminated by the state, even in the most extreme circumstances. Adding insult to injury, the process of approval by the Irish social services to begin international adoption typically takes four years.
So, we leapt. Across the ocean into the arms of a friendly city and family who would help us settle in Houston and navigate the fostering and adoption process.
We arrived in Houston in August, and set about making Houston our home. We rented an apartment in the Heights (chosen for its walkability and a sliver of likeness to Dublin neighborhoods), bought an old, reliable car, and started legions of adoption paperwork with our agency, Loving Houston. We found jobs locally, my husband teaching in a local charter school, and I continuing my writing work. We started exploring our new city, trying out restaurants, choosing our favorite coffee shops and making our home cozy while hiding from the heat and humidity. We remain happily surprised that it could be sunny so much.
With over 1,200 children awaiting adoption in Harris County alone, we anxiously await the day when the phone will ring with news that we will be bringing our little one home.
We’re far from your typical Houstonites, but we might be the face of the new Houston, and we can’t wait to add this city to the quirky little story of our family.
by Emily Westbrooks