GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — November is National Adoption Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to the need for adoptive families, and teens in foster care.
A West Michigan mother and author decided to share her children's adoption story. Plus, the daughter’s reunion with her birth sisters.
Susan TeBos was inspired to adopt after reading an article in a local newspaper.
“For me, it was instant. Like, I think our kids are in Russia. For my husband, when I asked him what he thought he was like, no, they're not only because he didn't have time to think about it," TeBos said.
Susan and her husband Mike adopted three kids from Russia at different times, two boys and a girl.
“I don't know if it's love at first sight. There's this longing that she is somebody that you're going to love for the rest of your life," TeBos said.
When the couple brought their daughter Lera home, they discovered she had two older sisters.
Using online chat rooms, it took Susan three days to find out the girls had been adopted together and lived in Connecticut.
Lera went to visit them when she was 4 years old.
“For me back then it was just fun. I was like, I'm going on a little trip. I'm going to Connecticut; I'm going to see these people who apparently, I'm related to,” Lera said.
The siblings have stayed in contact over the years.
“It's a sense of togetherness, it's the love that's there that is family ties, no matter how far away you live from each other. It's it always have someone there who you can count on. And it just makes me feel more like I belong here in this family,” Lera said.
Susan’s experience inspired her to write a book, “We’ve Been There,” a collection of stories from more than 30 adopted teens.
“When you know other people who have a common thread with you are struggling with something possibly similar. It's like a breath of calm, that's like a breath of relief that other people have gone through such things and then you hear advice from them," Lera said.
For those considering adoption or fostering Susan has this advice:
“Talk to other families who have gone through the adoption process, who have experienced being foster parents, and go in with it. Not only with your eyes wide open, but with a heart for kids who come sometimes from hard places."
Although the pandemic has kept Lera from her sisters in recent years, they will always be in her life.
“My sisters are a part of me. And I'm a part of them. So, I will be forever grateful.”
She is also forever thankful to her parents and brothers that never made her feel different or unwanted and always loved her.
You can buy Susan’s book now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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