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Colombian cuddles

A special bond forms when a mother holds her child in her arms for the first time.

Kandi Adkins knows that feeling well, despite the fact that her daughter Morganne was adopted.

"It was love at first sight," she says, recalling the day she and her husband, B.J., were first introduced to Morganne at an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia, last August.

"We couldn't take our eyes off of her," Kandi adds. "When we held her for the first time, it was incredible!"

B.J. and Kandi waited for almost a full year after filing the paperwork with Lutheran Social Services in Moorhead. During that time, the board at Los Pisingos orphanage in Colombia worked diligently to find the right match for them.

"They take a long time matching parents with their children," Kandi says, adding that the board closely examined all aspects of their lives and interests in order to make the best match possible.

Then, at 2:15 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2005, Kandi and B.J. received the news: They were about to become parents. After getting their passports updated and visas approved, the Adkins were finally ready: On Sept. 5, 2005, they were introduced to Morganne for the first time.

"We didn't know what to feel," Kandi says. "We didn't want to scare her (by crying)... so we were smiling and laughing. It was a really good bonding. She just ate up every ounce of attention."

For the next six weeks, the Adkins family remained in Colombia. One of the conditions that Lutheran Social Services places on its adoption process is that the prospective parents live in the country of their child's birth for a specified period before bringing him or her back to the U.S. to live permanently.

While some may have balked at the idea, Kandi and B.J. were looking forward to it.

"B.J.'s uncle is from Detroit Lakes, but he lived in Colombia for a while, and married a woman from there," Kandi says. "We just really enjoy being around her -- when we saw that Colombia was one of the choices (for their adoptive child's birth country), that's what we decided on."

Kandi says the experience of living in Colombia was nothing but happy.

"It was fabulous -- almost like a vacation," she says. "The place where we stayed was wonderful."

Kandi says the people they got to know during their stay were more laid back than the people they know in the U.S.

"I wish America was more like that (laid back)," she says, adding that the people put more emphasis on family and togetherness. "It's a beautiful country.

"We saw and learned everything we possibly could about our daughter's culture... Though we were happy to go home, it was bittersweet. "

In fact, Kandi says, she and B.J. are planning to adopt at least one more child from there, and hope to make frequent visits to the country for family vacations.

Though they were a little worried about how Morganne would handle the move back to the U.S., Kandi says, there was no need.

"She slept wonderfully the very first night (in DL)," Kandi says. "The family has just welcomed her with open arms."

In fact, Kandi adds, Morganne "gets everything and anything she could ever need" from her doting relatives.

While some adoptive parents choose to conceal the circumstances of their child's birth from the child until later in life, Kandi says she and B.J. plan to be completely open about it with Morganne, and to celebrate the holidays and traditions of her birth country with her as much as possible.

Kandi says this Mother's Day holds a very special meaning for her, because "There's nothing more I've ever wanted in life than to be a mother.

"It felt right from the beginning. The waiting time was hard because we so wanted to be parents... but it was good preparation for us."

As Morganne's first birthday (May 28) nears, Kandi says, "We can't imagine what life would be like without her."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454