Do you remember Allen Larson's story of his twin daughters Erika and Emily? Earlier this year he shared his story of adopting and raising them to be the wonderful girls they are today. We were so encouraged to read about all of the love his family has for each other. Today we continue on with a second question we asked Allen, "What has being an adoptive father taught you?" Read his answer of what he has learned from being an adoptive parent below!
"I’m sure every fathers’ experiences with his adopted child or children are just as unique as the children themselves. I just know my daughters have taught me some powerful lessons and they have had a significant impact on my life.
When we arrived in China the day we were to receive Emily and Erika, we worked as fast as we could to get the room ready and then waited anxiously for the girls to arrive. After what seemed like the longest afternoon of my life we received a call from the front desk informing us they were on the way. A few minutes later there was a soft knock at the door and then our lives were changed forever. It is something I will never forget. Two little angels had just come into our lives.
The day my daughters came into my life they also taught me unconditional love actually is possible. It was instantaneous and we developed a bond that can never be broken. From day one I have absolutely loved every minute of being a father.
But I quickly learned that being the father of adopted twins isn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Emily and Erika both came to us with separation anxiety issues. After a few days in the hospital and their birth mother leaving, the girls were taken to an orphanage where they would spend the first eleven months of their young lives. After meeting them, we quickly discovered that any time they lost sight of us they would panic and start crying until we came back into view. They were afraid they were being abandoned again. I learned young adopted children crave security and develop a bond quickly. I believe the more time a child spends in an orphanage the more difficult it is for them to develop a bond, feel a sense of security and trust. That is why it is so important for children living in an orphanage to be adopted into a forever family at a young age.
In my case the sweet moments, the unconditional love, ability to participate in their growth and development far exceed the minor challenges that come along with adoption. I have learned adopted children don’t care what the family looks like, they don’t care about your income bracket, what kind of car your drive or the size of your house. They just want to be loved, feel secure, know you will be there for them tomorrow and be part of a forever family. At the end of the day they are normal kids that want to be part of a family.
Before I became a father, I was always looking 100 yards down the field, always looking toward the future. When my daughters came into my life, I quickly understood I needed to focus on the “here and now”, the things that are important right now. My daughters taught me to slow down, be more patient, present and take the time to see the world through their eyes. Becoming a father taught me there is a delicate balance between family and a career. I learned a job could vanish tomorrow, but your children are going to be with you forever.
As my daughters grew older, I realized children watch every move you make and listen to your every word. I learned I just needed to hold my breath and trust they would make the right decisions. I quickly discovered that actions speak louder than words. I found that even though it might not seem like it, they really do count on you to show them the way. I learned to talk to them about everything. Even those things I was uncomfortable talking about. I realized it was up to me to teach them about life. Their written words on cards and special notes taught me a father is a role model and it is important to always try to do the right thing. I have not been perfect, and I have made my share of mistakes. But I also found that when I did make a mistake and owned it, they have been forgiving. I learned they need a role model and not a critic. They face enough critics as it is growing up. I found that a father needs to be the one person they know will always have their back and will always be there for them.
I have learned that the words 'I love you' are the most powerful and healing words in the universe and parents cannot say them enough. I have been relieved to find that as I get older, they love me just the way I am. I have learned that becoming a father is the most important and rewarding experience of my life."
Erika and Emily are now college students. Erika is pursuing a degree in Nursing at the University of Washington. Her goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner. Emily is pursuing a degree in Human Physiology at the University of Oregon. Her goal is to become a Physician’s Assistant. We are happy to see how Allen and his children's lives came together, now with Allen having learned these valuable lessons and Erika and Emily ambitiously creating a bright future for themselves.