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Finding Cora

Cora and Maureen Atkinson

In this guest post, a mother in Maryland writes about finding her daughter, who was living in Utah, on AdoptUSKids.

In 2015, I started seriously considering adopting from foster care. I remember thinking that if I decided to adopt, I would get matched with a child fairly quickly. I had a good job and a nice home. And I wanted to adopt an older child.

I got licensed through an agency that would help me conduct a national search, and I registered on AdoptUSKids. Once I started inquiring about children, I realized that I’d been naïve. Some of the teens I expressed interest in did not want to move from their state. Some children and caseworkers preferred a two-parent family, and I was single.

A child I felt would be a perfect match was matched with a couple with parenting experience. It was quite a blow, but I couldn’t give up. I had my cry, and the next day I was even more determined to find my child. I knew she was out there.

The next day, I spotted a 12-year-old girl named Cora on AdoptUSKids. She lived in Utah. Her profile described her as a sweet, nurturing child who loved to do arts and crafts, which was also an interest of mine. She liked animals, which was critical because I have two dogs. And, the worker had written, Cora would do well in a family with two parents or a single mom.

I asked my agency to inquire about Cora. Soon I was participating in interviews with her caseworkers and learning more about her. Everything seemed to be going well, but I was still nervous. I’d gotten my hopes up before.

“The process that I thought would be quick took more than four years, but if I had been matched sooner, I wouldn’t have been matched with Cora.” Share on X

One afternoon, I was sitting in my car at lunchtime when I saw a Utah number on my phone. It was Cora’s worker. I steeled myself, thinking, “Here comes the bad news.” Cora and her team had chosen me! It was official. I was so happy that I got out of my car and danced around the parking lot! I couldn’t stop smiling. It was one of the best days of my life.

Since Cora was in Utah, and I live in Maryland, we were not able to communicate with each other until judges in both states signed off. As soon as they did, Cora and I started talking by phone. That first conversation and those following were easy—not awkward at all. Soon our calls were the highlight of my week!

After a month of phone calls, I flew to Utah to meet Cora at the group home where she lived. That four-and-a-half-hour flight felt like the longest of my life. All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind. Was I making a mistake? This would be a big change for me and for my mother, who lives with me. Most of all, I didn’t want to make a mistake for Cora. But when she came into the room and sat down to talk with me, it just felt right.

Cora’s adoption was finalized on October 16, 2019. The process that I thought would be quick took more than four years, but if I had been matched sooner, I wouldn’t have been matched with Cora.

People tell me: Oh, that’s so nice that you could give Cora a home. And of course, I hope I’ve changed her life for the better. I know she’s changed mine. She’s made me a mother. She’s made me more compassionate. She’s also made me mad, but don’t all teenagers? The bottom line is she’s a smart, amazing kid, and I’m proud and blessed to have her as my daughter.