Family feels complete, thanks to adoption
PLUM CITY --- Upon walking into the Paul Horsley/Michelle Lorch home in Plum City, one can't help but notice their two-year-old son Jack, bounding around the house with all the energy of a typical two-year-old.
He's usually shadowing his eight-year-old sister Gaby, in a way that younger siblings do to their older ones.
There's just one difference from everyone's so-called "typical" family: Jack and Gaby were born in Guatemala and were adopted.
"These two kids are a great story," Horsley said.
Although the exact figures are unknown, in 2001, about 127,000 children were adopted in the U.S., according to the NAIC (National Adoption Information Clearinghouse), with about 2,100 being in Minnesota and over 2,500 in Wisconsin.
And while Horsley and Lorch didn't adopt Jack and Gaby until 2004, 2001 was a significant year for them.
After the 9/11 terrorist attack, the two were ready for a lifestyle change.
The pair, who was married in 1999, wanted to escape the daily lifestyle of the Twin Cities for something more relaxing. They found it in Pierce County, specifically in Plum City, where they have resided ever since.
Now, with that hurdle down, the couple went on to their next one--adding to their family.
"We're interested in pursuing the adoption of an older child," Lorch said. She added the couple tried the U.S. system, but described it as "hit and miss," especially when they heard the news older children in the U.S. who are up for adoption have usually been neglected or abused and the increased likelihood younger children could be abused due to their past experiences.
Then, to factor in the difficulties, as Horsley described it, he and his first wife had in adopting a daughter, Ariel, which was a U.S. adoption, made the decision for Horsley and Lorch to go international an easy call.
The couple enlisted the help of Crossroads Adoption Services of Hudson and, with their help, settled on Guatemala as the place.
The process then began, which the two laugh about now, but not quite back then.
"It's definitely challenging due to the amount of paperwork," Lorch said. "There were pieces of uncertainty, but it's completely worth it because these are wonderful kids."
Among some of the challenges faced were getting good letters of conduct from law enforcement officials wherever they've lived for the last 10 years, including states such as Texas, New York, Missouri, Minnesota and now Wisconsin. (Both Horsley and Lorch are pilots for a major airline.)
"We had to be squeaky clean," Lorch said.
And of course, there is the money. As Crossroads Adoption Services Director Charlotte Vick said earlier, in her eight years associated with the agency, she has seen most adoptions reach $10,000 or more.
Lorch said her only request before they started the process was she wanted to bring home an infant. That wasn't a problem, as within a couple of months, they were told two Guatemala mothers were pregnant with boys and were ready to give them up for adoption, and they would get the first one. Jack was born in January 2004.
Gaby was a different story. The agency they worked for in Guatemala said they had an older girl available from the same orphanage as had cared for Jack. She just turned six.
"We didn't even need to look at her picture," Lorch said, indicating how convinced they were.
Because the two weren't biologically related, it was one more obstacle for them, as government rules in Guatemala call for separate paperwork for each child.
With that matter solved, Horsley and Lorch were finally ready to see their children for the first time in June 2004. It was an interesting plane ride, as it consisted of one day down to Guatemala, the next day there to pick them up and the following day the plane ride back.
Because Gaby (born Ana Gabriela) was never around the English language before coming here, there was concern how she would adjust, especially when she started school the following September. Those concerns were quickly eased, as within the first three weeks of coming to the U.S., she was picking up everything she could in English and, by the second week of school, was sounding like every other normal kid.
"She's like a little mother to him," Horsley said. "Jack's crazy for Gaby."
And while some adoption couples end up not having enough cash or can't survive the paperwork or even end up getting conned on the other end, Horsley and Lorch are more than happy they went through it.
"The challenges are there, but so many kids need families, it's a great experience," Lorch said.