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The Rodriguez Family

Jose Rodriguez wasn't always a family man. He began his adult life as a Navy man, enlisting straight out of high school. Twelve years later, he and his wife Angelica were ready to settle down.

"We decided to wait until I got out of the service to have children," explains Jose. "There is a lot of moving and family separation when you are in the Navy. If we were going to build a family we wanted to build one together."

Adoption was always an option for the Rodriguez family. They heard about it frequently and were not turned off by the idea. But it was their faith that played a major role in their final decision to adopt.

"There is a verse about taking care of widows and orphans," says Jose. "So this paired with the fact that we wanted to expand our family, adoption was natural progression."

Searching the Globe

Jose and Angelica began by looking at international adoption. They attended adoption seminars and soon were reading about China's one child policy. The country was filled with many discarded young girls. Six months into the adoption process through Children of All Nations Adoption Agency, however, the couple learned they did not qualify to adopt from China for financial reasons.

"We weren't discouraged," notes Jose. "We knew from our research that adoption generally takes one or two years. We decided to move forward and try for a little girl from the Philippines."

International adoption round two was more frustrating. Just before they were about to receive a dossier listing key information about their prospective child – their health, family history, foster history, etc. – the adoption agency was informed the Philippines was now only allowing children with special needs be adopted. 

"Since we hadn't parented before we didn't feel quite ready to handle a special needs child," recalls Jose. "At least not yet. So we had to move onto another country: Bulgaria."

Bulgaria would not prove successful either, however. A year into the process, the adoption agency was informed the wait time had been increased from 1-3 years to 3-5 years.  At that point the Rodriguez family had already spent five years trying to adopt an international child. 

Returning Stateside

"We shifted to a domestic agency," says Jose. "It was a Christian-based adoption agency – Gladney Center for Adoption – that had children from foster care that were in the custody of the state of Texas. They also had access to children being placed up for adoption from individual families or women."

The Gladney Center asked the Rodriguez family if they were willing to adopt a sibling group, rather than one little girl. Jose and Angelica said yes and soon began looking through the center's listings of children. It was exciting for the parents-to-be, but also heartbreaking.

"It is exciting because you feel that someone there is your future child," explains Jose. "But on the website they don't list some of the extreme circumstances that the children go through."

After much research, the Rodriquez family found several sibling groups they were open to. But circumstances again did not work out. In one instance, Jose and Angelica received a case file (one of the final steps to being matched) only to find out a family member of the children stepped forward to take custody. They were back at the starting line.

"Because of our strong faith we took it all as God's will," states Jose. "This was not the children we were intended to have. By this time we were both in our late 30s, so we weren't the typical couple in our 20s wanting kids. We knew things were going to happen on God's time."

Meeting Jonas and Abigail

Finally, in April 2016, Jose and Angelica's patience paid off. They headed to their first visit with Jonas (age 4) and Abigail (age 6). The sibling pair would soon grow to be a sibling trio, however – the biological mother was expecting.

"All of the sudden there were three of them!" laughs Jose, remembering his surprise at the baby news. "So we went from wanting one Chinese girl to adopting three siblings from Texas. They are from the Houston area but they are half Mexican and half El Salvadorian. So there was even a little international flavor to it."

Meeting the kids was a day that was carefully planned. The Gladney Center had the Rodriguez family create a memory book of their lives together, complete with pictures of the couple, their home, their two dogs and the kid's future rooms. When Jose and Angelica arrived at the foster house, Jonas and Abigail already knew what they looked like and when they'd be returning.

"We introduced ourselves, and both my big girl and my big boy were very shy," remembers Jose. "And my boy was very attached to his foster father because he had been placed there for 3 years since he was 10 months old."

On the second visit the Rodriguez family got to meet baby Isabella. The prospective family of five enjoyed the Houston Aquarium and a trip to the park.

"It was so great," says Jose with a smile in his voice. "We are in our 40s now so we are a lot more patient probably than young parents. To us everything was a joy. Even inconveniences like car seats and diapers were a joyful experience. It meant so much to us."
 

Crossing the Finish Line

The day the children moved in with Angelica and Jose they were very prepared. The couple had bought the kids luggage sets to place their valuable belongings in (rather than the typical trash bag). Together they loaded up the new family car – which was big enough for three car seats – and drove the kids from Houston to their new home: Dallas.

"Currently we are in the foster-to-adopt stage," explains Jose. "We hope to make it all final by the end of December, as an early Christmas gift. There is some paperwork that CPS has to do with the state of Texas; and then we will become their legal parents."

The children are getting more than a new mommy and daddy for Christmas. They are also getting the sense of security that comes with finding a "Forever Family." But what is most important to the couple is that their kids are raised in a Christian faith. They want to instill in them a love of God and a respect for all people.

"To see joy in my children's lives will mean I've been a successful parent," reflects Jose. "And to see them to be productive members of our communities. That is my dream."

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