Adoption Interview with Tonia Pankova
- Give us a snapshot of your adoption(s). Foster or private? Domestic or international? From a country you lived in at the time or another one? What did the nuclear family that you welcomed your child into look like? How much of the process did you do from North America and how much from your country of service?
We have three kids who have joined our family in unexpected ways. All three were pre-teen or early teens at the time of coming to live with us. The oldest has been with us for 4 years and is adopted. Then a brother and sister joined our family a year ago and are foster kids as of now. All three were born in the area of Russia where we live and serve. I’m Canadian and my husband is Russian so we’re a cross-cultural family.
- How did your agency play into your adoption plans? Did they have to give permission? Did they have funds, resources, counseling, or matchmaking available for you? Did you have to return to the field to complete the process or could you do it from afar?
Our sending organization has always been supportive in any way they could. We didn’t need to ask for permission to adopt but felt it was right to let them know of our plans right at the beginning. Since we adopted locally within Russia, there weren’t many ways in which our sending organization could be involved.
- What are a few resources (books, podcasts, websites, blogs, people you talked to, services, organizations) that helped you on the journey?
Huge helps for us have been “Empowered to Connect” and Dr. Karyn Purvis’ book, The Connected Child. Also, on my last visit to my hometown in Canada I was able to meet with social workers and counselors at an adoption agency, which was extremely helpful.
- So far, inasmuch as you’ve noticed, is there anything that makes adopted MKs different from MKs?
This is a bit hard for me to answer, as our kids haven’t been with us for long enough to understand the difference, and are also being adopted at an older age.
- What is something you learned through the process (i.e. did wrong) that you’d advise to others so they can learn from your mistakes?
I would say be sure to get educated as much as you can – adoption, children from traumatized pasts, behavioral issues, attachment issues, etc. Read as much as you can before you become adoptive/foster parents.
- What are the most helpful ways friends can encourage/support you on your adoption journey?
Be open to ask questions (in a tactful way, of course!), be willing to listen to the good parts and the ugly parts, remember to treat our kids as if they have always been with us since birth and not like they are ‘different’. Most importantly, pray for us as new parents and for the transition journey to be a smooth one.
- What are ways that people have tried to encourage/support you that really aren’t helpful?
Sometimes people who have no adoption experience or are parents of newborns, for example, want to give their advice and try to ‘solve’ the problem or issue when the best way to encourage and support is to be a listening ear, give a shoulder to cry on, or even show up with a cake in the middle of a family crisis and be totally ok with the fact that you’re losing your mind. (Yes, friends did this for us and it was a life-saver!)
About the author
Tonia is originally from the prairies in Canada, and has been living in Russia for 13 years. She and her husband, Alexey, moved to southern Siberia in 2008 and it has now become home for them. They are parents to three adopted kids, who have joined their family at various times over the last four years. They pastor a church plant and look for open doors in the community to connect with people and share life with them. Tonia loves teaching English, traveling, learning how to be a mom, listening to people's stories, good coffee, and writing.View all articles by: Tonia Pankova
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