Five year journey to motherhood...Ilene Hopkins story

Date: 
03/02/2012
IHopkins

Meet Ilene Hopkins

It has taken 5 years of paperwork and inspections but Ilene Hopkins, a Chicago police officer formerly in the 13th District, is now a mom. Her new daughter waited for her arrival in China and they are U.S.A. bound.

As an only child, she knew that she wanted a child of her own one day. Having considered adoption for a while, Ilene, who is single and a former Chicago Public School teacher, was introduced to a woman in 2004, who adopted her daughter from China. "I went to her home, saw how well bonded they were, how well the child was adjusting. I got all the forms to start the adoption process. I filled them out and then... didn't send them. I guess I just was not ready," she explains with much enthusiasm.

Two years later in July 2006, however, she was ready and sent off her application. When she had not heard back from them in 10 days, she sent a note inquiring as to when she would know about the adoption. Two months later she was told that the child went to someone else. Two months after that, they asked if she wanted to withdraw her application. She said she wanted to continue. But, it took another two months before she received a call asking if she was still interested.

"I felt good that they called me. I felt relieved, complete."  The process that followed was time consuming and arduous.  She received a packet of papers that had to be completed by Dec. 1, 2006, so that a social worker could be assigned for three appointments. Each document was different and each required a cover letter from the Chinese government, one from the Secretary of State and a notarization. Each day she worked on completing one or two tasks along the paperwork trail.

"The first of the meetings was on Jan. 5, 2007, for about two to three hours with a social worker," Ilene begins relating the meetings. "They wanted to make sure that you are consistent with what you have written and said. It was a good thorough process. I was told to start working on my dossier and to get an expandable folder in which to keep all my papers.

"The second meeting was on Jan. 12 and the third was a home visit. I had completed duplexing my house which included taking two small bedrooms and making them one...which is hers. I completed the upstairs with things like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and things for the doors because I had to have everything just right!

"The first floor was clean though not renovated. And, there was this gold refrigerator. I felt that I had to get rid of the gold refrigerator before the inspection," she said, laughing at herself. " I got a good deal on a floor sample and they were going to be able to deliver the day before the inspection. The truck arrives. They take it off and drop it face down in the street! They wanted to bring it in, saying it was fine! 'No no...you take that back.' I told them. So the gold refrig was there for the visit. But the inspection went very well. They were very kind and understanding."

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Tenacity and efficiency is what it took to traverse the adoption process

Then she received a call from a friend telling her that China was going to stop adoptions to singles in May 2007. "I was pretty sure I would be ok because I had all the paperwork in except for one document that I had to go hunting for. That led me to an office with a woman whose last name was Archangel! Really, that was her name and I got what I needed."

Little did Ilene know that even with the help of Archangel, it would be another five years before her dream would be realized. She waited and waited and waited for notification of an adoption going through. Every 18 months, she had to redo the packets of information and have another home visit. "Each year as I got older, I began wondering if I should renew the documents. This last time, I thought that if it did not happen in the next 18 months, I probably wouldn't do it again because I'd be over 50."

When she began her adoption journey in 2004, only one adoption out of 10 was allowed by China to go to a single person. Starting in 2007 China began lowering the number of adoptions to other countries. Though Ilene learned that if she would accept a child with special needs, the likelihood of her being a mom would go up, she decided to wait in the regular program until last summer.

She took an online class in August after talking with and meeting moms who had adopted special needs children. The class made her eligible to adopt a special needs child. At the end of the training she was told that they didn't have any children available but children were added every month. Each month...August, September, October and November... she was told there were no children available.

The night of her last call in November, there was an email that came in at 10 p.m. "I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. There was a child available. A girl. I couldn't believe it. Then you get scared...almost 5 years..." The next day she responded and on Nov. 28,2011, a "hold" was put on the child who would become Ilene's daughter.

Who is this little one, what are the details of the trip, what happens next? Be sure to read the next part of the story.

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