Panama City - International adoption can be a joyful journey, but also a challenging one. That's why some local women are forming a support group for families who have adopted internationally. The group is called "Globally Connected: The International Adoption Community of Bay County." NewsChannel 7 met with one of the founding families to learn about their desire to meet and help others navigating international adoption, before, during and after their new child comes home.
For Tom and Katie Fanning, adoption was in the cards even before they met. "We decided on our first date that we were going to have two kids and that we would have one biologically and we would adopt the other one," said Tom. Two and a half year old Caleb, who was born in China, joined their family 10 months ago, after what the couple calls a very smooth international adoption process. "We met him on July 3rd, he was part of our family on July 4th, and we were home by July 10th. It was fairly short and simple," said Katie.
But the journey has not been without challenges. When they arrived home in the states, Caleb was easily overwhelmed, and naturally, suffered some attachment issues. "He had only been out of the orphanage three times when we got him. When we brought him here everything was new, now everything is exciting but he used to get overwhelmed," said Katie. And, as is common with many children adopted from China, Caleb has a cleft palate. "One of the reasons they get put up for adoption is because they have some minor correctable need that they can't take care of very well in China but is a common thing that we can do relatively inexpensively here," said Tom.
"It can be really lonely to go through something like this alone, to feel like you are the only one going through these issues," said Katie. That's why the Fannings are co-founding "Globally Connected," a support group for families who are considering, going through, or have completed an international adoption. "Just to be able to get together and talk, and for the kids to be able to play together. Both for the kids to have someone to identify with and the parents too," said Katie.
The Fannings couldn't be happier with their family of four. "It's been great, he is hilarious, he loves to make us laugh," said Katie. "I can't wait till he can talk because I think he has funny things to tell us," said Tom.
The first meeting of "Globally Connected" is this Saturday, May 19th from 5:30 to 7 at Pediatrics Plus at 927 Grace Avenue in Panama City. Childcare will be provided. For more information you can find them on Facebook or call 774-2519. You can also send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org