Caring for another person is the greatest act of love. More importantly, an orphaned child without a home. Statistics show there are roughly about 400,000 orphans in the United States and foster care system. Out of the that number, 100,000 are waiting to be adopted.
It is our duty to care for those that are less fortunate or lacking love. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
WOE Magazine caught up with Staci Roberts and her daughter Laniah to chat about their adoption experience and how they are using their platform to change lives.
Part I: Staci Roberts’ Perspective on Adopting
WM: Most parents dream of having their children naturally. Tell us why you decided to adopt a child as a single parent?
SR: I grew up knowing that my dad was adopted and my mother worked for the Department of Social Services. So, for me, adoption was a natural option. I saw and even experienced the benefits of adoption and really wanted to provide a loving, stable home to a child that had not experienced living in this type of environment. One summer I was watching an adoption special on TV. The very next week, the dance studio where I teach ended the summer program with a rendition of the play “ANNIE.” I cried and called the Department of Social Services the next day.
WM: Describe the adoption process and why you chose your daughter.
SR: When I became a foster parent, I knew that my ultimate plan was adoption. I went through a pretty lengthy process of orientation, training classes, home inspection and then waiting for the call that a child had been placed with me. Because I would be a single mom and had sisters and nieces, my plan was to get a girl between ages 2-5. But I received a call from Social Services, May 3, 2006 at 2pm saying they had a 6-month-old baby girl that needed emergency placement. She had stayed at the Department of Social Services all that day with nowhere to go. They wanted to know if I would take her by 5pm. I had a room in my house but it was for a little bed and I had no crib. So I left work, went to the furniture store saying I need a crib right now! They looked at me and my stomach and asked may I ask why (I explained). With tears in her eyes, the salesperson called back to the storage area. Of course they helped me get the crib and a family friend came to meet me at my house to put it together. At 5pm that day, I had a baby! The rest is our beautiful history!
WM: What were your biggest challenges in the adoption process? What was the most rewarding part of the process?
SR: I got Laniah when she was six months— but I wasn’t able to adopt her until she turned three. That’s how long it took for her to be considered legally available for adoption. That waiting time was the hardest part. During that time my prayer was for her to be healthy, safe and for us to be able to stay together. October 2008 was when I adopted her and it was one of the greatest days of my life.
WM: Most parents wait until the child is older to reveal they were adopted while some keep the truth a secret. When did you share with Laniah she was adopted? How did you communicate the news to her and what was her reaction?
SR: Because of my parents I was already working with some adoption support groups and had recognized that adoption should be celebrated and not kept a secret. So my mom created Laniah a book that had pics and our story. Some of the pics were drawn by my nieces. We would read that book to her regularly. But she really started asking questions when she was 4 and I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. Thankfully we had already started the discussions with her and I tried to answer her questions as open and honestly as possible. The key for us is to tell her the positives of her adoption before the world can give her the negatives.
WM: When you first adopted Laniah, you were a single parent. Now you are married living with a blended family. Tell us about how Laniah adjusted to her new family dynamics.
SR: I met my husband about six months after Laniah was adopted. She was still three and he had a son that was nine. Ironically, my husband had thought too about adoption. Once we started discussing marriage we did a lot of things together with the kids so it made the adjustment easier. Also, we got pregnant and had a baby very early in our marriage, which Laniah was pretty excited about. I am thankful to have children three ways—through birth, marriage and adoption.
WM: What advice would you give to anyone looking to adopt a family?
SR: I have been fortunate to talk to various possible adoptive parents and I tell them all it was one of the best decisions I had ever made! Giving love, your heart, your home and yourself to someone that would not have been able to have it is truly indescribable. My Niah -boo (that’s what we call her) is the absolute best and fits perfectly in our family; I’m so thankful and blessed God brought us together. I tell everyone who is thinking about adoption to make that call. It’s definitely beyond worth it.
Part II: Laniah’s Perspective on Being Adopted
WM: How do you feel knowing you are adopted?
LR: I think I was surprised and shocked at first but I feel good about it.
WM: Do you feel different than your friends?
LR: No. One of my friends is adopted, too.
WM: Is it a good thing or bad thing to be adopted?
LR: It’s good because I would not have my family and friends. And I don’t think she (birth mom) would have been able to take care of me and given me the opportunities that I have now. I have my mom, dad, big brother and little sister. I dance and have lots of friends. I like my life.
WM: We hear you are now an advocate for other children who are adopted.
LR: I’m not sure what advocate means (laughing), but my mom and I dance at an adoption banquet every year. And I also compete in pageants and my platform is adoption. I have gotten the chance to attend many adoption events including a run where I waved the starting flag. It was nice! When I grow I plan to adopt a daughter and she and I are going to dance at banquets like me and my mom.
Staci Loftin Roberts is a proud wife and mother of three. God has blessed her with children three different ways; through birth, marriage, and adoption. She is a Training Specialist at John Hopkins, a Dance Director at Studio A Modeling, Etiquette and Dance Academy , a Zumba Fitness Instructor at Loftin Love Empowerment Suites and the Maryland/ Mid- Atlantic Director for the Exquisite International Pageant system. Her pageant platform is Changing Lives through Adoption.