Take Our Word for It

local parents share their adoption experiences

Claudia Lozano, photos by Jen Schultz |

Christy Evans Reppe

Adopted 3 brothers from Colombia (born 2006, 2007, and 2009). They arrived about a month ago.

Process “This process is a rollercoaster. A lot of families hit walls once in a while during the process, so we expected that when we started it in spring 2007.”
Challenges “We went in thinking of adopting an infant just because we thought that’s what we were supposed to do, but as we got into the process we knew we wanted to adopt a sibling group. … Adopting an older child comes with its own set of challenges. An older child has lived more of their life in a non-permanent family, you have more history to work through, they have a background that will always be part of the child and every child is different. A common challenge is that they haven’t had a permanent parent – the 4 year-old is learning he has one mom and one dad and that we are the ones that are going to take care of all his needs. They were in orphanage for a little bit over a year, so it does take a lot of repetition to let them know we are their caregivers. We’re all learning together as we go.”

Advice “Talk to other people that have adopted, read books, and educate yourself about adoption and the options that are out there.”

Judy Patrie

Adopted 6-week-old Wisconsin boy (born 1975) and a baby girl (born 1977), both through Catholic Social Services.

Process “It only took about 6 months, now I think it takes longer. We had to go through a process where we worked with a social worker. She explained a lot of things and everything. Once a week had a little meeting, and a group meeting with other couples. She came to the house and made sure it was suitable to have a baby, and it worked out really well. She told us there was no timeline, and she said ‘don’t get a room ready.’ One night she called … she said ‘you can go pick a baby boy from La Crosse.’ We had nothing ready, but our friends that had babies helped – the baby got a lot of hand-me-downs. I’m so happy to have adopted both our kids. … We were very lucky and we feel blessed.”

Advice “Be open minded and have patience. It takes a lot longer now; our situation doesn’t happen now. Be prepared for some heartaches.”

Char & Lance Gurney

Adopted A newborn boy from Texas (born 2004)

Process “The process can be very overwhelming if you let it be, but at same time it can be a surreal process that can come with an amazing ending. There’s a lot of paperwork, and it can get overwhelming and it can scare people, but you need to remember you need to go through this to get to the good part which becomes an amazing event in your life.”

Advice “Keep an open mind, look into different agencies and social workers until you find a connection you are comfortable with.

Judy Berthiaume Leary

Adopted 3 infants from South Korea (born 2001, 2002, and 2007)

Process “It was intimidating, but we knew we had to stay positive; we were excited and nervous. This was a fabulous experience. … We had this helpless feeling, because you are in someone else’s hands, but you have to remember to look at the bigger picture, and it’s amazing how that (feeling) falls away once you have that child in your life.”

Advice “Be patient. The process can be long and complicated. At points it may feel right or it may feel like it’s not the correct path for you, so follow your heart. You have to be open minded in every aspect. … Talk to other families to talk about other agencies. Do a little bit of research.”