Friday, August 14, 2009

Some memories from Merrily

Sarah was the first child adopted into our family. Today she turns 40. This special event has caused me to reflect a bit on how much adoption has changed over the years. We had three birth children and applied through the local welfare department to adopt a baby of any race and we were open to “handicapping conditions” as they were known in those days. Sarah was a bi-racial baby and at that time it was very unusual for a Caucasian family to be offered a black child. She had minor and correctable issues with her feet, certainly not what we considered a “handicap.”

I would describe the reaction of friends and relatives as “speechless” regarding our decision to adopt across racial lines, rather than disapproving. At that time no one could say that they knew someone who had done it and it hadn’t worked out at all, because there were very few who had “done it.”

Sarah quickly won friends wherever she went. She smiled and cooed and was generally charming. Our other children adored her and before long we decided to apply to adopt internationally, from Korea. Again, our application stated that we were very open; we just wanted a child who needed a family.

Soon thereafter we received a passport sized photo of a nine-year-old girl who had a Korean mother and a black GI father. The agency said that they had many children in the orphanage with mixed parentage but had never placed a Black-Korean child,. They asked if we would be open to accepting her because we already had one bi-racial child. We accepted immediately.

Without knowing it, we became “pioneers” in trans-racial adoption. Many more children joined our family over the years, from a variety of racial backgrounds. We didn’t set out to do anything different or special; it just happened. Families today have dozens of books and other materials to help them with the issues presented by transracial adoption. There are email groups, seminars and trainings available. Now parents have an opportunity to make a much more educated decision when considering adopting across racial lines. For our family, it was simply a matter of being a family available for a child that needed one.

Sarah has traveled many times to escort children from Taiwan and Ethiopia. She lives in Burlington, WA and works for Costco. There are many adoptive families in that area and many have met Sarah. She can always find a tactful way to ask racially unmatched families if they have adopted through AAI!

Ripley Family Photo from the 70's


  1. Happy birthday, Sara! What a beautiful family!

  2. Thanks for sharing that great story of your family.
    Becky Wright

  3. Merrily, thanks for being such a pioneer. I bet you never knew it would all lead to this. What an amazing journey you have had. Now, years later, many of us are blessed because of your first steps into the adoption world. Thank you for sharing some memories.
    :) Tami

  4. Mom, Thank you for sharing the story of Sarah, and how she changed adoption not only for you and dad, but for other families as well! I sure love seeing the pictures of Sarah when she was younger.
    Holly Ripley Raines