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Ordeal Ends with Happy Son, 8

  Barbara Lau  

Lori Leach Potts ’87 of Davenport, Iowa, is a high school vocal teacher. Last May she and her husband overcame surprise setbacks to adopt Alex from Nicaragua.

When the Cornell Report asked for adoption stories last spring, I was in Nicaragua struggling to bring home our 8-year-old son, Alex. After a fouryear wait, my husband, Bruce, and I traveled there on May 5. We learned that Alex had been given to his grandmother as an infant, then passed to an unrelated family. They made him sleep in the rain and beat him. At 5 he was put in an orphanage. We were fortunate to visit him in that setting so that we could understand his past. One of Alex’s last wishes was to give a pizza party for his friends at the orphanage. Purchasing 10 Domino’s pizzas required a five-hour round trip, but we got to see Alex and his 20 friends play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and perform a folk dance.

Alex was shy, thin, and covered with heat rash when he came to stay with us at our host family’s home. In a few days the rash disappeared, his stomach started filling out, and he began to talk. Our trip took longer than expected, however. After a month I returned home while my husband stayed two weeks longer to finish the paperwork. On the day before their planned departure, the American consulate denied Alex’s exit visa because one immigration form had expired. After three days pleading with the consulate plus my efforts contacting state legislators and the White House, Bruce had to leave Alex behind with our host family. We rushed to Des Moines to update our papers.

On June 25 I returned to Des Moines for the necessary papers, then boarded a plane for Miami. I arrived in Managua at 6:30 a.m. greeted by our smiling orphan, Alex. We returned to Iowa the following day. Alex is beginning to learn English and has entered second grade. His adjustment to family life, and learning how to treat and love his mom and dad, has been more difficult. He will grieve, for some time, for the loss of his former life, even though it was not a good life by our standards. Yet I am thankful he is happy and healthy.

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