January 8, 2012 by Terry Ropp
This holiday season is a milestone in the lives of the Brasuell family. Tracy and Laurie and their adopted son, Ty, spent their second Christmas together. It was one of a happy and complete family done without the many adjustments adoptions bring, especially if the child originates from a foreign country like China. The home was filled with Christmas decorations and joy and thankfulness.
“We were 20 years without children, and I thought I might miss some things,” Laurie said. “The truth is those things just don’t matter anymore; Ty does.” Then Tracy added, “Everyone says Ty is the lucky one, but we are the lucky ones. What did we ever do to deserve this much luck?”
What Tracy and Laurie did do was follow the tricky, bureaucratic, three-year path to adoption with an agency in Austin other local people had used. Once they decided to adopt internationally, they had to pick a country. They settled on China because the Chinese program was the best developed and most stable. Many countries like Russia open and close sporadically and leave families hanging.
“The only time the Chinese program closed was during the SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] outbreak as part of the worldwide effort to control the disease. We felt secure going with the Chinese program,” Laurie said.
And there were numerous visits from social workers.
“At first I was worried if my house was clean enough even though I really knew they were more interested in how we interacted and what our parenting strategies were,” Laurie said.
There were also endless volumes of paperwork. Laurie admitted to getting discouraged sometimes during the long process, but Tracy helped her.
“I knew others had waited as long and the Lord would provide when the time was right,” Tracy said. “My job was to help her keep going.” They also had contact with other families in a similar situation which Laurie admitted also helped.
The most exacting part was making the travel arrangements, which included sending away their passports to get visas. One huge help during the trip were the guides. They were supplied by the adoption agency as part of their fees. The guides were with them every step of the way during the seventeen day stay in China.
“We had problems with the pollution over there and our guide arranged for a doctor and medication immediately,” Tracy said. “All of the guides were wonderful, and we always felt safe. The only police we saw were like mall cops with sticks and whistles that everyone pretty much ignored.”
Though the Brasuells had picked Ty from a photo, their first sight of him confirmed he was an outgoing, active child. He had on little shoes that squeaked with every step. Rather than going right to them, he ran all around the table squeaking and smiling until he reached finally them. Tracy smiled fondly at Ty and said, “It was like a test to wait a little longer.”
They were given health documents but no other information. Laurie said Ty was “healthy but about a year behind developmentally. In the year since he has gained 15 pounds, seven inches, and two years developmentally.” During the time in China, the new family began to bond through touch, sleeping together in bed, and food, especially Cheerios and Gerber Puffs.
According to Tracy, had Ty been older he might have experienced culture shock because he came from Shanghai with 23 million people to a neighborhood of 27. That, however, does not seem to be the case. While interviewing, Ty said, “I love to drive the tractor.” When asked what he liked best about Christmas, Ty stuffed part of a cookie in his mouth and said, “All of it.”