Dec. 18 , 2006

A new family, and a new home

Palmers adopt two children from Taiwan

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

After more than two years of paperwork and waiting, Natalie and Richard Palmer of Delano have successfully adopted two children from Taiwan, Titus and Kiera.

The decision to adopt came to Natalie early in life.

“When I was 14, I read a book called, ‘The Family Nobody Wanted,’” recalled Natalie, who has a background in psychology and is now a stay-at-home-mom.

This book inspired her, and she believed, “It was something God wanted me to do.”

It took her husband, Richard, who is a chemical enginner, a little longer to convince.

“In the beginning, Rich was hesitant to adopt, but after much time spent thinking, he felt that this was God’s will for their lives also.”

“He knew that adoption was a special desire of my heart and he chose to unselfishly put my wishes before his own,” Natalie said. “He continues to stand steadfastly beside me as my best friend and as an incredible father to all of our kids. He’s a keeper.”

The adoption process

Upon being asked about the preparation of work involved with adoption, Natalie said, “It’s long, and you have to be very organized with the paperwork.”

To adopt a child, a person must start by contacting an adoption agency, and by selecting a country to adopt from.

The Palmers originally thought to adopt from Haiti, but due to struggles, adoption was unattainable. The same fell true for Guatemala, Vietnam, and China.

Finally, the family stumbled onto the country of Taiwan. New to the practice of adoption, the process was long and, at times, unpredictable.

Like standard paperwork for any job, there were deadlines. The Palmers had to complete fingerprints at the county level (Wright County) and the state and federal levels (in St. Paul).

The couple had to have a social worker come to their home to complete a home-study to determine if they would be able to parent adopted children.

They also had to complete a short class through their state adoption agency about the negative and positive effects of adoption on children .

Finally, they had to write a letter to the country of Taiwan about their desire to adopt.

“It typically would not take two years to adopt a child,” Natalie noted, “but we were slow getting our paperwork in.”

A change for their children

Even with already having three children, it was a priority to adopt two more. Natalie felt that it would be best for an adopted child to have a “buddy.”

They also wanted their adopted children to be younger than their youngest child, Abbie.

These new additions to the family have changed everyone, even the kids. Both Natalie and Richard have seen their first three children change over the course of the summer.

Caleb, 12, was typically quiet and a bit shy. He has become more out-going and is often seen wrestling or joking with his little brother, Titus.

Hannah, 10, was “very tender-hearted;” now, she has taken on a responsibility as a big sister and become mom’s “helper.”

Abbie, 8, has grown to love and share with her new brother and sister.

How was America different than Taiwan?

“Imagine growing up in a place where you couldn’t see the sunrise,” Natalie said.

Titus, 7, and Kiera, 6, arrived in America with nothing but a backpack on their shoulders and a new family to show them love..

Titus and Kiera grew up separately in a “bad part of town.”

“They had not come from disciplined homes,” Natalie said “Their histories were very rough.”

Titus had been to three foster homes during the nine months prior to his adoption by the Palmers. Kiera was in an orphanage.

Titus and Kiera lived in a city in the middle of the mountains. They never were able to see the sunrise or the sunset.

Waking up every morning to the sun beaming through their window has sure been a change, Natalie said.

With surviving primarily on noodles in Taiwan, America’s sugar-oriented food culture was a whole new ballgame.

Sugary foods, like cake and candy, did not taste appetizing to Titus and Kiera; who ran to the garbage and spit out their cake the first time they tried it.

“During their first few days here, they basically wanted nothing but ramen noodles,” Natalie noted. But that has now changed.

When asked what his favorite food is, Titus openly affirmed, “Oooo, ice cream!”

Since they arrived in June, the Palmers have exposed Titus and Kiera to restaurants, zoos, and movie theatres. As a family vacation, the Palmers traveled to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Titus and Kiera also enjoy attending church with their family in Maple Plain.

All the traveling and family time helped them tremendously, considering they left Taiwan without any knowledge of the English language.

Beginning with grunting, and working their way up to words, the first three weeks in the Palmer house were quite rough. By the time school started, Titus and Kiera were quite fluent in English.

Learning has not stopped since they started the school year. Faith Wokasch (Kiera’s teacher) and Debra Lovegren (Titus’s teacher) can attest to that better than anyone else.

Wokasch and Lovegren are both amazed at Titus and Kiera’s ability to learn so quickly.

“She (Kiera) has jumped right in” and she has “adapted well,” said Wokasch.

Lovegren added, “It’s like the light bulb flickers.”

If Titus does not understand something, eventually, everything will come together, she said.

“He’s definitely happy,” Lovegren added.

Both teachers can recall the first month of the school year when both Titus and Kiera would bring them fistfuls of weeds, which they excitedly referred to as “flowers” for their teachers.

The Palmers are very appreciative of the teachers at Delano Elementary School.

“They have invested extra time with our new kids in getting them up to speed academically and also offered many kind comments, queries, and encouragement throughout the entire process,” Natalie said.

“Titus and Kiera thank us almost every day for bringing them from Taiwan,” Natalie added with a smile.

Adopting Titus and Kiera has changed their lives. Although it required some major adjustments in the beginning, the Palmers have grown to love their two additional children.

The memories and love between them will be forever and unchanging.

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