“Can you give me some advice about adoption?”
Félix Correa hears that question again and again. As president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Adoptive Parents (Asociación Puertorriquena de Padres Adoptivos), he regularly talks with prospective adoptive parents, both in Puerto Rico and the United States.
Félix’s advice to prospective parents comes from the heart. He and his wife Rosana are the parents of three children, all adopted through the foster care system in Puerto Rico.
Fill out the papers!
“If you’re thinking about adoption, my first piece of advice is to go fill out the papers,” Félix says. “You’re going to meet a child and fall in love with him or her.”
“You will feel just as close as if you’d given birth to that child,” Rosana adds.
The birth of a family
After more than a decade of marriage and an infertility struggle, Félix and Rosana began the journey to adoption in 2000. Puerto Rico’s Department of Family (San Juan regional office) placed a seven-month-old baby with the family the following spring. Félix and Rosana soon bonded with the cute, good-natured baby. Following six months of supervised visits, the couple finalized the legal adoption of Félix Javier in 2001.
By 2004, the couple was ready to grow their family even more. The Department of Family contacted them about two birth sisters who needed care. Seven-year-old Anabelle and two-year-old Estefanía had been removed from their original home and had spent time in three different foster homes. The girls came to live with the family in May of 2004, and their adoption was finalized in June 2005.
Transitions and growth
“Despite having asked for siblings, Félix was jealous at first of the girls,” Rosana says. “At the same time, the two little girls badly needed our understanding and love.” Anabelle, who had been a victim of abuse, said that she could not trust in any adult. Félix and Rosana validated her feelings, telling her that they would help her feel that she could trust in them, and that they would prove it to her as long as she needed.
That trust was earned, as the new family bonded and became close-knit.
Today, Félix and Rosana have a houseful of teenagers. Eighteen-year-old Anabelle is enrolled in her first year of college and planning to study nursing. Félix Javier, now fourteen, likes video games and sports, and Estefanía is an outgoing thirteen-year-old with many friends.
About four years ago, Félix and Rosana made the decision to homeschool their children, in order to provide a more challenging curriculum than they were experiencing in school. The children have been motivated learners at home, the couple report, easily moving beyond the curricula for their grade levels.
As parents of teenagers, Félix and Rosana have gained perspective on the different phases of raising children. When asked about the number one quality needed to parent teens, Félix laughs and replies “patience.”
“We try to always remember that our job is to make our kids the good people of tomorrow,” Félix adds. “Sometimes, other adults tell us that our kids were lucky to be adopted. We know that we are the lucky ones, since they made us parents!”