Patricia Jacqueline, my English teacher, is an extraordinarily loving, kind and strong woman who has adopted a child, fought breast cancer and is currently a wonderful mom and very successful woman.
What made you decide to adopt? Three years ago, a good friend of mine came to visit who was 43. Along with her was a baby girl she had adopted. I told her if I was younger I’d go for it. She said I should.
Did the paperwork take long and, if so, how did you feel about it? Yes, the paperwork took a long time to get through. This worried me terribly, because I was aging. I had to go to the police station to get forms stating I was a good citizen. I had to get a letter of recommendation from the school.
Did it take long before you got your baby? I was originally supposed to receive another child, but her mother changed her mind. Perhaps that’s why my process took extra long. I started at age 50 and picked up my daughter Lilly at age 52.
How old was she when you brought her home? She was one month old. I got off the plane in the Dominican Republic, was rushed through customs where I grabbed my luggage, then rushed outside. A car pulled up and a newborn baby girl was placed in my hands. I had to stay for three weeks for the paperwork.
Was she already named? Yes, in fact she was. Her mother had named her Jazmine. I renamed her Lilly Tereza Jacqueline. I chose Lilly because she was born on my mother’s birthday. The year I received Lilly my mother suffered a stroke. I chose Tereza as a middle name because that’s my sister’s and my niece’s name. I felt I had to give her some kind of connection with the family since she’s not connected by blood.
Do you plan to tell her she’s adopted? She already knows. She knows all about the whole experience. I tell her the story all the time, like your mother would tell you about the day you were born.
Do you know the birth parents? Lilly’s father was never in the picture, never even mentioned. I did, however, meet her mother. It was sort of mandatory. When I went to the Dominican Republic, there were rumors that Americans were stealing Dominican babies. Her mother had to accompany me to court so documents could be drawn up saying that Lilly was now legally mine and that the birth mother approved.
Did Lilly’s mother let you know why she was giving her up for adoption? Lilly’s birth mother said to me, in Spanish, “I love my daughter. But I want her to have a better life.”
What do you do in your spare time? Mostly I spend my free time with Lilly. We went to the lake for the whole summer this year. Lilly loves the lake and loves to swim, fish and use the paddle boat.
If you could, would you do it again? Even at this age I would do it again. If I could turn back the hands of time I would do it all again. I wish I had known about adopting earlier. I can’t imagine life without my little girl.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.