Our Story

How we suddenly began our quest to adopt internationally

By Alan M. Murray

His room is emptier now. The baseball glove and Phillies ball cap are gone. Toy racecars that once “vrrroommmed” through the house are now silent. A single belt hangs in the closet, the only item of clothing left behind. And dust covers black and white Aztec-style chess figurines, frozen in battle, unmoved since he left.

“Alejandro” loved looking out the kitchen window into our small backyard in the townhome community where we live not far from Philadelphia, Pa. He was fascinated by squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. A friend from Colombia who lives nearby told us that it’s not common to see animals in their country because so many people scare them away or kill them. (Photo by Alan M. Murray)

I looked out the kitchen window. “Has it really only been less than a day,” I thought as a squirrel tightroped across the wooden picket fence in our backyard and jumped. “Alejandro” (that’s not his real name) used to sit there for hours watching them, fascinated by chipmunks, butterflies, and birds.

When “Alejandro” arrived, he carried only a small duffle bag with just a few changes of clothing, some toiletries, and a notebook. Clarissa made him a blanket and since he enjoyed baseball so much, we bought him a ball and glove with a Phillies cap. He kept his belongings neatly, placing them in precisely the same spot each evening before going to bed. (Photo by Alan M. Murray)

An orange Post-It, just one of several dozen spattered throughout the house, still sticks to the glass with the Spanish “ventana” written in scratches of black ink alongside its English counterpart, “window,” just one of the many words he taught himself.

After almost two years of researching, considering, and exploring adoption through the State of Pennsylvania, we were invited to host a 12-year-old orphan from Colombia in our home for three weeks.

We’re Alan and Clarissa Murray. We live in the Philadelphia, Pa. area, not far from where we grew up. We both speak Spanish fluently and have lived and worked abroad, Clarissa in Spain, and Alan in Argentina. We’ve been hoping to adopt children and unexpectedly met “Alejandro” when we were invited by Madison Adoption Associates to host an orphan from Colombia in our home over the summer. (Photo by Alan M. Murray)

Since we both speak Spanish fluently, we were excited about using our language skills to help a less fortunate child living in an institution over 2000 miles from our  home to have a good experience visiting the United States.

While we weren’t seriously considering the lengthy, costly international adoption process, we had no idea how the next month would change our lives. From the moment that he greeted us at the airport with his arms wide open and embraced us, it was obvious that he was someone special. That feeling only grew as his visit drew to a close.

“Alejandro” greets us at the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pa. Before meeting, we were allowed one thirty-minute video chat, where we showed him around our home, met his chaperone, Monica, and learned that he was hoping to see a baseball game and go to the pool. (Photo by Alan M. Murray)

On his last day, as we drove back to the Philadelphia International Airport, he sat in the backseat and said again and again, “No quiero ir. No quiero ir.” [I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go.]

But he had to go.

Immigration regulations and adoption policies for both countries insisted on that. Still, we couldn’t sit idly by while he resumed life without a family and a permanent home. Only a moment after he disappeared through the security line, we turned to the social worker and said, “How do we adopt him?”

On August 13, 2018 we said goodbye, not knowing if we would ever see “Alejandro” again. To protect him, we weren’t allowed to tell him that we were hoping to adopt him, so he still doesn’t know. As we get further along in the process, we will one day have opportunity to tell him. (Photo courtesy Diana Bramble/Madison Adoption Associates)

Some of you were able to spend time with “Alejandro” while he stayed in our home. Still, many more of you never had the chance to meet this energetic, likeable, courteous boy from Colombia who loves baseball, chess and wearing sunglasses indoors.

Some of you don’t know us, but you might know people like us. Perhaps you’ve been where we are now. Or maybe you’re contemplating going where we’re headed – perhaps you’re about to embark on the complex, rigorous, and expensive journey of international adoption.

So, whether you’ve met “Alejandro” or just want to meet him. Whether we’ve known each other for years, or have never met. If you’ve considered adoption yourself or you simply want to help us bring him home again, we invite you to join us on our journey as we share our experiences through this blog, hoping and praying to one day help him home.