GAME TIME- The Villeneuve family from left

Mother’s Day that much more meaningful for local family

International adoption proves an exhilarating, bonding experience

A bond between a mother and child is undeniably strong – even when that child is adopted into the family from a world away.

Terry and Randy Villeneuve along with their children Derek, Rachel and Nick looked at adoption to expand their family.

About five years ago, the family adopted a little girl from Port-au-Prince Haiti. Her name was Abby.

“We were interested in adoption many years ago after having our kids and it was a long, long process – about two and a half to three years from the time we started until we received Abby,” said Terry. “When Abby came she was 19-months-old and weighed only 16 pounds. She was very malnourished.”

Terry and Randy flew to Montreal where they would be united with Abby through the adoption agency.

“We were waiting at the airport and we didn’t know what Abby looked like. We didn’t have any pictures of her. We knew we were getting a girl and we knew her age, but that was all,” said Terry. “We’re in this airport full of people and we’re looking for kids and looking for the social worker.”

The waiting was intense as the flight Abby was on was delayed six or seven hours.

“When they finally did come, the gal handed her to us and said she was a good baby and gave her a kiss and told us to feed her as soon as we could because she was very weak and she hadn’t been fed on the flight,” said Terry. “And that was it. We were on our own in Montreal.”

Terry and Randy stopped by a store before heading to a hotel so they could pick up some supplies they might need.

“We got everything we could think of because we had no idea what she even liked,” said Terry.

The next morning, the family headed back to Red Deer to be reunited with the rest of the children and Abby’s new siblings.

Getting into a routine was relatively easy Terry said but with Abby being malnourished, mealtime was sometimes a challenge.

“We found out through trial and error that we couldn’t give her a lot of food because she was used to having very little food in the orphanage. She would save her food and put it all in her mouth until her cheeks were bulging and then she would want more food.”

Today at eight-years-old Abby is thriving.

“I like to read, play on the swings, bike and dance,” she said.

Since Abby’s arrival into their family, Terry and Randy have tried to adopt again.

“Adoption is a great option. International is extremely hard. We tried to adopt a child from Ethiopia and then Zambia. Now the adoption agency we were going through has gone bankrupt,” said Terry. “But it really is an exciting rollercoaster ride and I would recommend it. There are so many kids out there that need to be adopted.”

Eventually, the Villeneuve’s hope to return to Haiti and show Abby where she came from and look for her family.

Terry said adopting Abby has been one of the most joyous occasions in her family’s life.

“People always ask me and I even wondered when I went to pick her up if I would care for her, will the bond be there and will she feel like my biological child – I would say absolutely. The moment she was in my arms she was as bonded with me as if I had been pregnant with her for nine months.”

As Mother’s Day approaches, Abby said she is grateful for her mom and even working on a special surprise for Terry at school.

“My mom means the whole world to me. She means everything.”

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