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.