Traveling abroad usually ends in a suitcase full of refrigerator magnets and photos of the Great Wall of China or London's Big Ben. While the traditional foreign getaway is great fun, imagine coming home with an extra person in tow. In fact, this extra person is now a permanent resident and refers to the world travelers as mom and dad.
International adoption has become increasingly prevalent in recent years and it is common to see families of mixed cultures gallivanting through Tulsa.
Couples spend weeks at a time in a foreign country, waiting on the arrival of their children and for two separate governments to approve the adoption and subsequent immigration.
For one family, this journey was a dream come true and while their home is filled with all the traditional American customs, a heritage that was once foreign to them is now celebrated everyday.
Meet the Brewers. Five in total and by looking at them, despite the complete contrast in skin tone and hair pigment, there is no mistake that this is a family, albeit a unique one.
For Doug and Donna Brewer, adoption had become a viable option for extending their family. Taking on children that have an unknown background and heritage can be a challenging feat and one that takes the utmost consideration.
"We gave it some thought and soul searching and decided it was the right choice for us," said Donna. "So we filled out paperwork for about six months and waited another eight months to get Allison."
International adoption can be a tedious process but, like a birth, that first encounter with a child completes the long and overwhelming process and gives a sense of completion and fulfillment.
"When I first saw Allison we were in a hotel lobby and we had just gotten off an airplane. Allison's nanny was holding her and recognized us from our pictures," Donna said. "I looked over and recognized Allison and I kind of had a meltdown in the lobby. It was such a joyous occasion."
Adopting from a foreign nation means that an unfamiliar culture is now part of day-to-day life. That time spent overseas serves as a window into a world that parents will come to learn more and more about.
"Adoption is always different, so when you get to spend those several days over there, you get to see where your child is from," Doug said. "If they just brought her to you, you would have no idea of what she's been through or where she's from."
After bringing Allison home, the Brewers made the decision to return to China and go through the adoption process one more time. This time they brought home Audrey.
Audrey faced physical challenges and was considered special needs due to a cleft lip and palate. The Brewers soldiered through the label that classified their youngest daughter and watched as Audrey overcame her physical challenges.
Now the Brewers, who started as Doug, Donna and their 21-year-old son Matthew, have expanded into a colorful family.
Every summer, the Brewers send 7-year-old Allison and soon 2-year-old Audrey, to a China camp sponsored by Dillon International. The girls get to learn all about their bloodline history and celebrate the traditions of a homeland that may be far away but still plays an integral role in their lives.
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